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
phrase 11/9
phrase all the time
abolishment noun abolition
advisory noun warning
advocate for phrase advocate
ahead of preposition before
noun aeroplane
 adjective alternative
aluminum noun aluminium
anyways adverb anyway
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 expectant mother extracting gifts
backstory noun past
baked-in adjective integral
bee noun competition
beer noun lager
bettor noun gambler
bite me interjection fuck off
black friday phrase clearance sale
blowhard noun braggart
boilerplate adjective ordinary
bougie adjective vulgar
bro noun pal
brownie noun cake
bum noun homeless person
(to) bum verb cadge
burglarize verb burgle
butt noun arse
candy noun sweets
caregiver noun carer
catfishing noun deception
cell phone noun mobile
chapter book phrase children’s book
cheat on phrase two-time
check noun cheque
chill adjective placid
chips noun crisps
cohort noun marketing category
condominium noun block of flats
consolatory adverb consolingly
consult with phrase consult
cookie noun biscuit
cookie-cutter adjective mass-produced
cosplay noun fancy dress
county lines phrase drug dealing
creative noun advertiser
critter noun animal
cupcake noun fairy cake
(to) curate verb select
curb noun kerb
(to) date verb go out with
deep-dive phrase analysis
dial back phrase adjust
dial down phrase reduce
diaper noun nappy
diner noun cafe
dirt noun soil
double down phrase reiterate
dove verb (past tense) dived
downtown noun city centre
(to) drawdown verb reduce
(to) drop verb release
drug store noun chemist/pharmacy
dude noun man
duke it out phrase fight to the finish
eatery noun cafe
eggplant noun aubergine
elevator noun lift
empathic adjective empathetic
‘erb noun herb
faceplant verb fall
fall noun autumn
fanny noun bum
(to) farewell verb attend a funeral
faucet noun tap
flashlight noun torch
flip-flop noun/verb u-turn
fries noun chips
from the get-go phrase from the beginning
fubar slang acronym snafu
(to) game verb manipulate
gas noun petrol
gaslighting noun manipulation
get-go noun start
ghosting noun ignoring
going forward phrase from now on
good to go phrase ready
gotten verb got
got your back phrase supportive
(to) graduate verb leave school
grits noun porridge
guys noun people
hack noun shortcut
handi-transit vehicle noun mini-bus
hardscrabble adjective difficult
hash brown noun fried potato
heads-up noun advance warning
hike noun increase
hole-up verb hide
hood noun bonnet
hook up phrase get off with
iconic adjective fairly well-known
i could care less phrase i couldn’t care less
ideation noun thinking
i guess phrase i suppose
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
king tide phrase spring tide
(to) kvetch verb moan
line noun queue
listen up phrase listen
lockdown noun curfew
mac’n’cheese noun macaroni cheese
mad adjective angry
main street phrase high street
math noun maths
mean adjective nasty
(to) medal verb win a medal
meet-cute noun encounter
meet with phrase meet
misspeak verb lie
mold noun mould
mom noun mam/mum
momentarily adverb soon
moreish adjective enjoyable
neurodivergent adjective fucked-up
normalcy noun normality
oftentimes adverb often
onboarding noun training
outage noun power cut
out of preposition from
pants noun trousers
paralegal noun clerk
parking lot phrase car park
passing noun death
pay raise phrase pay rise
period noun full-stop
person of colour phrase black person
pick-up noun van
playbook noun script
playdate noun prearrangement
pled verb pleaded
(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
realtor noun estate agent
(to) recuse verb withdraw
regular adjective normal
restroom noun toilet
résumé noun cv
retail noun shopping
right now phrase now
rock up verb arrive
role noun job
run for phrase stand for
sanctimony noun sanctimoniousness
scrubs noun surgical gown
season noun returning tv series
semi-trailer noun articulated lorry
shapewear noun corset
sheet cake noun slab cake
showrunner noun tv producer
shredded adjective grated
(to) shutter verb close down
signage noun sign
slated adjective due
slots noun fruit machines
smart adjective intelligent
smarts noun intelligence
sneakers noun trainers
snuck verb (past tense) sneaked
so exclamation um
sore adjective angry
(to) source verb obtain
specialty noun speciality
stan noun fan
start over phrase start again
stoked adjective pleased
stop light phrase traffic light
storied adjective eventful
streetcar noun tram
(to) summit verb reach the top
sundown noun sunset
suspenders noun braces
suss adjective shrewd
suv noun 4×4
sweatpants noun tracksuit bottoms
tailgate noun boot
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
the exact same phrase exactly the same
thrift adjective second-hand
thru preposition through
totalled adjective wrecked
transportation noun transport
trash can noun bin
trick or treat phrase give me sweets or else
trucker noun lorry driver
trunk noun boot
tub noun bath
tuxedo noun dinner-jacket
undershirt noun vest
unhoused adjective homeless
upscale adjective expensive
upskill verb teach
uptick noun increase
vacation noun holiday
veggies abbreviation veg
vest noun waistcoat
veteran noun ex-soldier
vicious cycle phrase vicious circle
wait on phrase wait for
welfare noun social security
wild swimming phrase swimming
windshield noun windscreen
woke adjective aware
write me injunction write to me
yard noun garden
zee noun zed
zucchini noun courgette