Teach yourself American

The English language has long been an insatiable borrower of vocabulary from other languages, a consequence of the English being insatiable invaders of other countries, but there’s something categorically different about the avalanche of Americanisms that are being aggressively normalised into the UK mainstream with unprecedented rapidity, to the point where US English now penetrates every aspect of British Isles English; grammar, spelling, syntax, idiom, phonetics and pronunciation as well as vocabulary. No facet of verbal or written expression remains untouched. There’s a word for this process: acculturalisation (in American: ‘acculturation’). This isn’t the organic, evolving, interacting change that is intrinsic to all languages; it’s a sudden, unnatural, overwhelming and strictly one-way onslaught led by the rapacious Tech Giants of corporate America, Alphabet (Google), Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft and Netflix.

We know all about acculturalisation in Wales; it’s been the main weapon of our imperialist colonisers for 500 years. So I am able to derive a frisson of delight from watching the English hoisted by their own petard, those supposedly proudly independent bulldog Brits as usual surrendering like pissy lapdogs without so much as a whimper to US domination, absorption and cultural hegemony. However, looking at the bigger picture, the process is merely a flavour of what the extreme rightwing ideologues running the UK have in store for this dysfunctional, rotten to the core, rogue state. The very purpose of the Brexiteers was always to become much more like the USA, discard laws designed to mitigate the ill-effects of capitalism on employment, the environment, the climate, food, health etc, and unleash a free-for-all race to the bottom until their beloved Britain is a completely privatised, unregulated offshore tax haven arranged for the benefit of foreign corporations, laundered finance, billionaires and Tory party donors. In that fresh hell, getting ever closer as Hard Brexit looms, the biggest losers will be the very same lumpen proletariat brainwashed Sun-readers who voted for Brexit in their millions. Mind you, Britain’s multitude of stupid, crude racists are likely to forgive Johnson’s government any and every abuse, damage, failure, scandal and incompetence so long as he pursues a far-right direction. For many becoming the 51st State would be a dream come true: they would gain the right to bear arms.

It has been calculated that over 400 new Americanisms have become embedded in the UK in the last 20 years alone. Below is a random and by no means comprehensive selection I’ve happened to notice in the last couple of years, along with the part of speech and a translation. Some have long been familiar but only recently entered general use.

HOMEWORK: Print out the list and learn off by heart; you’ll be needing it.

911 phrase 999
9/11
phrase 11/9
24/7
phrase all the time
advocate for phrase advocate
ahead of preposition before
airplane
noun aeroplane
alternate
 adjective alternative
aluminum noun aluminium
apartment noun flat
appeal a sentence phrase appeal against a sentence
ass noun arse
assist noun pass
atm noun cashpoint
automobile noun car
baby shower phrase a way to elicit gifts
bee noun competition
beer noun lager
bettor noun gambler
bite me interjection fuck off
black friday phrase clearance sale
brownie noun cake
bum noun homeless person
(to) bum verb cadge
burglarize verb burgle
candy noun sweets
cell phone noun mobile
cheat on phrase two-time
chips noun crisps
consolatory adverb consolingly
consult with phrase consult
cookie noun biscuit
cookie-cutter adjective mass-produced
cosplay noun fancy dress
county lines phrase drug dealing
critter noun animal
(to) curate verb select
(to) date verb go out with
dial back phrase reduce
diaper noun nappy
diner noun cafe
double down phrase reiterate
downtown noun city centre
(to) drawdown verb reduce
(to) drop verb release
dude noun man
duke it out phrase fight to the finish
eatery noun cafe
eggplant noun aubergine
elevator noun lift
‘erb noun herb
fall noun autumn
fanny noun bum
(to) farewell verb attend a funeral
faucet noun tap
flashlight noun torch
fries noun chips
(to) game verb manipulate
gas noun petrol
get-go noun start
going forward phrase from now on
gotten verb got
got your back phrase supportive
(to) graduate verb leave school
grits noun porridge
guys noun people
hack noun advice
hash brown noun fried potato
heads-up noun advance warning
hike noun increase
hood noun bonnet
hook up phrase get off with
i love that… phrase i like the way…
i’m good phrase i’m well
(to) impact verb affect
independence day phrase july the 4th
john doe phrase joe bloggs
(to) kvetch verb moan
line noun queue
lockdown noun curfew
main street phrase high street
math noun maths
mean adjective nasty
(to) medal verb win a medal
meet with phrase meet
mold noun mould
mom noun mam/mum
momentarily adverb soon
normalcy noun normality
outage noun power cut
out of preposition from
pants noun trousers
parking lot phrase car park
passing noun death
pay raise phrase pay rise
person of color phrase person who isn’t white
(to) podium verb win a medal
preppy noun young fogey
prom noun school dance
protest a decision phrase protest against a decision
purposeful adjective deliberate
rambunctious adjective rumbustious
real estate noun property
(to) recuse verb withdraw
restroom noun toilet
résumé noun cv
retail noun shopping
role noun job
run for phrase stand for
season noun returning tv series
shapewear noun corset
showrunner noun tv producer
shredded adjective grated
slots noun fruit machines
smart adjective intelligent
sneakers noun trainers
so exclamation um
sore adjective angry
(to) source verb obtain
specialty noun speciality
stop light phrase traffic light
storied adjective eventful
(to) summit verb reach the top
sundown noun sunset
suspenders noun braces
suv noun 4×4
sweatpants noun tracksuit bottoms
tailpipe noun exhaust
takeaway noun lesson
takedown noun criticism
takeout noun takeaway
talk with phrase talk to
(to) task verb assign
thanksgiving noun harvest festival
thru preposition through
transportation noun transport
trash can noun bin
trick or treat phrase give me sweets or else
trucker noun lorry driver
trunk noun boot
undershirt noun vest
(to) uptick verb increase
vacation noun holiday
vest noun waistcoat
veteran noun ex-soldier
wait on phrase wait for
welfare noun social security
windshield noun windscreen
write me injunction write to me
yard noun garden
zee noun zed
zucchini noun courgette