Six Americanisms we should adopt into British English

Although I’m renowned among my friends as a language pedant, I know that pedantry has its limits, and can be taken too far. For example, I fully accept the following facts about language:

1. Languages have different dialects, which are each as valid for their own speakers as any other

2. Language changes over time

So I hope it’s not too shocking to reveal that I’m perfectly comfortable with the existence of a dialect called “American English” with different pronunciations and vocabulary.

I’m even comfortable with some influence and exchange between American and British. It was absolutely right, for example, that we British standardised to the short scale and accepted that a “billion” is a thousand million – though it would be nice if the Americans, in return, would stop being idiots and convert to an internally consistent date notation system.

However, I think it will probably surprise many people to learn that there are a few Americanisms which I actually think are better than their British equivalents, and which I’d be happy to see adopted as standard British English.

Continue reading

Wolf Hall, bad grammar and literary style

A bit of a break from India for a minute, while I deal with some idiots on Amazon.

I’ve just finished reading Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel. It was the 2009 Man Booker Prize winner and it’s been raved about ever since. Normally I avoid anything with this much hype, but I decided to take a risk on it. Also, I needed a new book, and it was one of the few literary novels stocked by the Indian bookshop, among its stacks of get-rich-quick self-help tomes and Osho tracts.

It was a good decision. The book is, quite simply, terrific. It’s one of the best things I’ve read for years, and I’d zealously recommend it to anyone.

I’ve just read some of the reviews of it on its Amazon UK page, and a lot of people are criticising it for its bad grammar.

Continue reading