Americanisms are now part of everyday life

A recent letter to this newspaper complained about 'Americanisms' in our daily language.
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Love it or hate it, it seems that ‘from here on in’ they may be here to stay and are changing our English language rapidly.

Americanisms are now part of everyday life.

Just before this lockdown started, I called into a coffee shop.

Bill Haley and the Comets introduced ‘See You Later Alligator 'and ‘in a while crocodile’ in 1956Bill Haley and the Comets introduced ‘See You Later Alligator 'and ‘in a while crocodile’ in 1956
Bill Haley and the Comets introduced ‘See You Later Alligator 'and ‘in a while crocodile’ in 1956
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I was asked if my drinks were ‘to go’ and then when I left the establishment the admittedly very pleasant young lady said, ‘Have a nice day!’

Well, the day so far had been ok and whether it continued like that was really nothing I could have any control over, but a simple ‘thank you’ would have sufficed.

Recently we have been swamped with the big soap opera that is American election fever.

Of course, over there they ‘run’ for office, whereas here our politicians ‘stand’ for election.

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I have noticed one or two commentators on the British political scene using the foremost which must mean that it is possible for candidates to stand and run at the same time.

They may well trip themselves up which of course they frequently do.

When I have completed a successful spell check on my computer it tells me that ‘I’m good to go!’ Would I prefer it to say that my command of spelling is superb! I wonder?

Of course, it is easy to understand why our language has changed so much.

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It had to happen due to the influences of the digital revolution and the way our television screens are swamped with American imports.

Young people are far more likely to copy the phraseology in film series they watch on Netflix than they are ‘Downton Abbey’.

But I wonder, with the worldwide popularity of Downton especially in America, are people there emulating us?

Although when I think back, I realise that Americanisms have been around longer than I thought.

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What about Bill Haley and the Comets in 1956 with ‘See You Later Alligator!

This popularised the follow up ‘in a while crocodile’ and became part of the newly created teenager’s vocabulary.

It is said in her biography that Princess Margaret used it frequently. In a terribly posh voice of course.

‘You’re welcome’ when you thank someone, ‘Let’s visit with each other’ when planning a meeting, ‘I’m good for’ when suggesting a convenient date and even ‘chill’ meaning to calm down and relax more.

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‘Let’s touch base’ or ‘hit the ground running’ when about to start something, after having had a session ‘spit balling ideas’.

All in use here today in office environments.

Sometimes it can be irritating.

‘You do the math’ what on earth is math?

We learnt maths at school.

In my case not very successfully, but it was definitely not the math.

‘I got it for free’ meaning that it didn’t cost anything, having ‘issue’ with someone when annoyed, and ‘I will reach out to him’ when wanting to contact someone.

And if someone is a bit clueless then they are ‘Out of the loop’

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Our young people now have end of year ‘proms’ instead of ‘discos’, do ‘trick or treating’ and eagerly anticipate ‘Santa Claus’ instead of ‘Father Christmas’

If visiting America, not on holiday of course, but on a vacation, having ‘deplaned’ rather than get off the plane, it can sometimes be confusing trying to work out what exactly you want in a sho p or restaurant.

Wanting chips with your meal, you will quite likely be served a bowl of potato crisps. Chips are French fries there.

Jeans are pants, biscuits are scones, trainers are not shoes, but someone engaged in a sports coaching capacity, and gas is petrol.

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If going for breakfast that can vary according to the part of America you are in.

I’ve been served strawberries and blueberry muffins with bacon and eggs.

In the Southern states you’ll get a bowl of ‘grits’ which are a traditional American breakfast dish and taste like a coarser version of our porridge.

You’ll be asked how you want your fried egg.

Easy over is the answer if you want it flipping over to be cooked on both sides, otherwise ‘sunny side up’ is the answer.

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And at the end of the meal you’ll get a ‘check’ rather than a ‘bill’

We have been familiar for long enough now with shopping malls which originated in America and if you think Meadowhall is big, you can visit ones there as large as small towns.

We’ve even now got a ‘drive in’ cinema in Sheffield which we can only hope will be a success in such uncertain times.

Wanting the toilet in the US, you’ll look for signs for restroom which Americans think is a much nicer name for it anyway.

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I f you need somewhere to keep your American dollars, remember that a bum bag is a fanny pack.

When driving, remember that a lorry is a truck, and whilst Americans park on a driveway, they drive on a parkway!!

When you’re sightseeing again in the United States, just keep saying ‘Hey, that’s awesome!’ or ‘Hey that’s cool!’

Give everyone you meet a ‘Hi Five’, and you’re well away.

And what’s more you will be understood over here in the UK also.

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(But make sure at the moment you’ve got your latex gloves on!)


In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a digital subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Nancy Fielder, editor.

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