Americans don’t like snogging much. The generic term for the genteel art of sticking your tongue down someone’s throat remains kissing.
But more and more British terms are now crossing the Atlantic and ending up in general usage in the same way as US expressions such as “OK” hit Blighty a few decades ago, according to a new survey.
Will redheads like Christina Hendricks from Mad Men soon be gingers?
The Britishisation of American English was recently described by a number of news channels while last year Yagoda set up a blog dedicated to spotting the use of British terms in American English.
This hasn’t come a moment too soon for me; although come to think of it, it’s probably come too late. As a British journalist working in America, I always thought I was sensitive to the linguistic differences – that is until I made the mistakes.
“At the weekend?” one copy editor asked me quizzically down the phone, another editor questioned my use of the phrase “taken to hospital.”
“So why did he kill her?” asked the crime editor.
“Because she packed him in.”
“She packed him into what exactly?”
I had more problems explaining to the same editor why a trainer belonging to the deceased lay at the scene.
“So they also killed his personal trainer?”
“No like footwear.”
The problems continued. “What’s wrong with this? Why do you describe it as a scheme?” asked one editor gravely.
“Because a scheme means a project in Britain.”
Most of them were caught before publication. Advert got into print.
And then there was the alarming night I was asked to cover an event at a “shag club.” Boy was I disappointed.
The good news is, according to the BBC, some Britishisms are sticking stateside. Phrases gathering momentum over here include “chat up” and “spot on” as well as the expression “ginger” for a red head.
It seems Harry Potter is responsible for some of the Britishisms. The expression “sell by date,” which means expiration date is also gaining ground.
Of course there are still many British expressions that are yet to arrive in the US. It’s not polite to talk about “smoking a fag,” or buying a “rubber.” (eraser).
But the slow importation of British expressions means it’s probably time to stop casually referring to people as “wankers” because they may stop scratching their heads and end up punching me in the chops.