Saturday, June 11, 2011

The Americans are Winning

Being out of England for most of the time, I tend to notice small changes when I'm there that may be imperceptible to those who live there. One of these is the creeping Americanisation of the English language. Not only do we have a whole generation who use American spelling because they've never bothered to change the default spell checker in Word to British English, but American vocabulary is gradually replacing British usage.

One of the changes I observed on this year's visit is that the original British "railway station" has largely given way to "train stati0n", which in my childhood would have been understood but considered an Americanism. Now that usage makes sense, since "bus station" was already common British usage, but why don't we call an airport a "plane station" to be consistent?


dennis hodgson said...

I've been fretting over this for some time, although "train station" has been the default in the UK for almost 20 years, and there are a lot more Americanisms creeping into British English.

When was the last time you heard [or read] "he has proved his case"? Everyone now says "he has proven his case". I've also heard [on the BBC] references to the "Thames River" and the "Tyne River"; and I've noticed a widespread failure to understand the difference in meaning between "compare to" and "compare with".

Mind Your Language is not entirely on-topic, but it does outline my views on the use/misuse of language.

Private Beach said...

There are plenty of other examples. I don't object strongly to Americanisms like "train station", but it's a matter of greater concern when they affect the meaning of the language. For example, we used to protest at things (war, poverty, or the like). Americans just protest them, without the preposition. This completely reverses the meaning of "to protest one's innocence".