BRITISHISMS IN AMERICA.

BBC News had an uncharacteristically good piece on language by the delightfully named Cordelia Hebblethwaite; it discusses how “British English is invading America” without trying to hype the subject excessively, including sensible quotes by Jesse Sheidlower (who calls it a “very small, but noticeable” trend) and Bill Kretzschmar, professor of English at the University of Georgia (“while the spike in use of some British terms may look dramatic, it is often because they are rising from a very low base. Most are used ‘very infrequently’, he says”). There are quite a few quotes from that personable lexicographer Kory Stamper (don’t miss her blog harm·less drudg·ery):

One new entrant into the Merriam-Webster dictionary in 2012 was gastropub (a gentrified pub serving good food), which was first used, according to Kory Stamper, in London’s Evening Standard newspaper in 1996, and was first registered on American shores in 2000.
“The British pub is a very different critter from an American bar,” she says, but bars with good beer and food are springing up in many cities in the US, and the British term is sometimes used to describe them.
Twee (excessively dainty or cute) is another “word of the moment”, says Stamper, as is metrosexual (a well-groomed and fashion-conscious heterosexual man) which “took off like wildfire”, after it was used in the American TV series Queer Eye. There was even a backlash against it – a sure sign, she says, that the word had “absolutely made its way into the American vernacular”.

There are lots of good examples, and even some historical background. Frankly, the only thing that bothered me was the (to me, very surprising) objection to such borrowings on the part of Geoffrey Nunberg, who as a linguist should surely take a more detached view. What on earth is wrong with borrowing, a process that is as inevitable as sound change? Even Jesse Sheidlower (American editor at large of the OED), while not objecting to them en masse, says anyone who says bespoke is just “showing off” (assuming, of course, he was accurately quoted). Hey, people are like magpies, they pick up words that strike their ear and insert them into their conversation; you can call it “showing off” if you like, but that seems peculiarly hostile to me.
I should point out that Nunberg has a Language Log post complaining about the journalist’s talking about him “snapping” and “quivering” with “revulsion”; I understand his irritation at being presented in that way, but since he says she described him, “accurately, as generally deploring the practice,” my point is not affected.


While I’m on the subject of journalism about language, remember Quentin Atkinson’s Science paper about how language came out of Africa (see my irritated post about it)? Well, there’s a nice short takedown by Magnus Pharao Hansen in Anthropology News; don’t miss it if you have any interest in the subject.

Comments

  1. I’m not sure how accurately I was quoted, and I don’t think my comments should be regarded as “hostile,” but I think that my characterization of American uses of _bespoke_ as primarily for the purpose of “showing off” is correct. The word has a highly specific meaning and context in BrE, and in AmE it is chiefly used for marketing purposes in much broader contexts where perfectly fine existing terms like _custom_ or even _well-made_ would do just fine. The OED files have many examples of _bespoke_ in AmE, and precisely none of them are from people who “insert[ed] them into their conversation.”
    “Hey, check out my new bespoke bike!” — no examples; “WhizBang Bikes in Williamsburg sells only bespoke fixies”–yes examples. “Wanna come over after the movie for some bespoke cocktails?” — no examples; “The newly opened Witherspoon & Fotheringay serves the finest bespoke cocktails to a discerning clientele” — yes examples.
    I also wouldn’t be bothered by an American use of the word accurately in the British sense, e.g. “A beautiful bespoke suit made by William Fioravanti” [sc. a New York tailor who makes fully custom [i.e. bespoke] suits]. (If I really did say (as quoted in the article) that I thought that Americans who use the word referring to custom-made suits are always showing off, I hereby retract this criticism.)
    But in general–and from the viewpoint of the evidence, not just my personal feelings–I do think that Americans who use certain Briticisms, _bespoke_ especially, indeed do so for the purpose of pretension.

  2. Bespoke software, software which is written by a company not for sale but for its own use, seems to be in fairly common use as an AmE technical term. Of course it’s used in BrE too, where it’s just a ordinary productive use of bespoke. In some cases the software is written by another company that specializes in doing such work, giving a sense closer to bespoke suit.

  3. J.W. Brewer says:

    “Cordelia Hebblethwaite” is so Wodehousian a name it makes one suspect a put-on. Was her colleague Nigel Frump-Ditherington unavailable to write the piece?

  4. A Meddock says:

    Ginger to described red-haired people has come into vogue among Americans in 2012. I haven’t heard it used to imply homosexuality or orange kitties, other Britishist uses of “ginger;” these uses have not made it to these shores that I have noted.

  5. I don’t think my comments should be regarded as “hostile,” but
    I’m pretty shocked that Jesse Sheidlower confuses showing off about a bicycle with showing off by using flashy or current or obscure vocabulary. There’s nothing wrong with bespoke, it’s none of those things, it’s the advertising context he is objecting to.

  6. I suppose I ought to have deleted “current” from that comment.

  7. I can attest that ‘gastropub’ has recently made it as far as Honolulu–to very good effect, IMHO. Of course, the basic concept got here many years earlier from the opposite direction in the form of ‘izakaya’.

  8. Well, perhaps GN’s unscientific, and uncharacteristic, reaction can ultimately be taken as evidence of just how important language is to us – similar perhaps to Hat’s acknowledgement, on occasions, of the inner battles he sometimes has with the Prescriptivist who dwells within him.

  9. Ginger to described red-haired people has come into vogue among Americans in 2012
    ג’ינג’י Gingi (both Gs soft) has been used to describe redheads in Israel at least as far back as the 1960s. I presume the term is a leftover from the days of the British Mandate (which ended in 1948).

  10. I assume GN’s negative reaction is connected with some sense that people who adopt Britishisms are showing contempt for everyone else. I have some very Anglophile friends, mostly in NYC for some reason, and adopting British expressions is a way to show you’re part of a cosmopolitan inner circle, implicitly “better” than ordinary Americans who don’t get it. Somehow this must be connected to the incredible increase in popularity of Premier League soccer over the past decade and Doctor Who. You could also blame Tony Blair, maybe that “Cool Britannia” thing actually worked. It doesn’t bother me – tribes will always latch onto some private jargon to distinguish themselves from outsiders. Britishisms seem more accessible than certain varieties of skateboarder slang, and less obnoxious than upper class whites using inner city slang borrowed from gangster rappers.

  11. From your last link: “history does not is not necessarily follow the most parsimonious trajectory”. A friend has a much better version: “Nature need not shave with Occam’s razor.”

  12. Unlike in the UK, there is no anti-ginger prejudice in the US, she says
    Wrong there.
    Though of course ours is all in good fun….

  13. I also wouldn’t be bothered by an American use of the word accurately in the British sense
    Ah, then I withdraw my objection to your objection. Of course it’s equally futile to protest against people using borrowings differently than they were used in the source dialect/language, but that’s a futile protest I can get behind. I wasn’t aware of the marketing context (I avoid advertising whenever possible), so I was just thinking about Americans who might talk about “bespoke suits.”
    Well, perhaps GN’s unscientific, and uncharacteristic, reaction can ultimately be taken as evidence of just how important language is to us – similar perhaps to Hat’s acknowledgement, on occasions, of the inner battles he sometimes has with the Prescriptivist who dwells within him.
    Oh, absolutely, but there’s a big difference between acknowledging the battle (“I can’t help feeling annoyed sometimes, even though of course as a linguist I know there’s nothing wrong with it”) and straight-out deploring, which is (in my opinion) as unseemly for a linguist as open partisanship is for a judge. Popular understanding of language and how science views it is at such a low level that linguists should take every opportunity to raise it rather than letting their peeve flag fly.

  14. I withdraw my objection to your objection.
    I can’t imagine why. His objection is that bespoke:
    is chiefly used for marketing purposes in much broader contexts where perfectly fine existing terms like _custom_ or even _well-made_ would do just fine.
    That’s one of the most narrow-minded and potentially prescriptive opinions about a word I’ve ever heard coming from a linguist: “don’t say x, because we have perfectly fine existing terms like y or even z” – who’s “we”, by the way? Do you legislate just for US-English speakers or for everyone?

  15. J.W. Brewer says:

    There are two things going on here that are easily conflated. The first is an empirical/social-science claim (which might be right or wrong, but is a perfectly valid question for sociolinguistics to concern itself with) that when an AmEng speaker uses a particular Britishism it should typically be understood as a reasonably self-conscious way of signalling that one is or aspires to be a particular sort of person. (Of course, some Britishisms could start out that way but then get domesticated and thus no longer imply the same social signal.) The second is an arguably non-scientific value judgment that the sort of person that this linguistic signal identifies is a bad sort of person to be. And that can be a matter on which tastes differ. (I find many subtypes of US Anglophiles somewhat irritating, but presumably they enjoy themselves and it is useful to them to have mating signals etc. that attract each other, not to mention mildly useful to me to have signals to warn me off.) I am entitled to draw plausible inferences about people from certain of their language choices just as I am entitled to draw plausible inferences about them from their choices in bumper stickers or clothing, recognizing that in each such case the inference may be inaccurate (either because it’s based on bad data or because the data suggests a correlation between signal and underlying personality type that is meaningful but not 100%).
    Marketing jargon would actually be a good subject for sociolinguistics. Lots of people will claim to dislike transparent pretentiousness and snob-appeal tactics (which can include Britishisms like calling your shopping mall the X Centre rather than X Center), but presumably these tactics are used because they are believed by marketing professionals to work on their intended target audience, or at least attract more people than they repel.

  16. Hepplethwaite portrays Ben Yagoda as a happy collector of Britishisms, but I believe if you look at his NOOB blog you will find that he is also irritated by many of them, perhaps in the same way that Nunberg is, perhaps in the same way I am. In fact my reaction on first looking at his blog was to be irritated by his public irritation, his readiness to assign unattractive reasons to people’s adoption of new words. The peevish impulse can always be rechanneled, but it never seems to go away.

  17. from the viewpoint of the evidence, not just my personal feelings–I do think that Americans who use certain Briticisms, _bespoke_ especially, indeed do so for the purpose of pretension.
    There’s evidence that people from the US are using Britishisms in order to be pretentious? Or do you just mean there’s hard evidence they’re being pretentious? Hard to prove either way.
    It’s absurd to link English from England with pretentiousness. I’d say it’s merely the use of foreign coinages, particularly ones that require some education to understand, that makes USians uncomfortable: à la carte,Weltschmerz, auto-da-fé etc. are not expressions most Americans would use in conversations with their servants, they limit this stuff to museum visits and after-dinner conversation.

  18. Crown, I think you’re making a distinction without a difference: Briticisms[*] in America are just as foreign as words from other languages, except insofar as we can figure out what they mean (and we often cannot).
    [*] What is this Britishisms anyway? Nobody talks about “Englishisms” or “Scottishisms”.

  19. That’s my point. Americans apparently regard foreign expressions as pretentious, therefore there’s no reason to single out British (but really English) coinages as pretentious. It’s not me who’s making a non-existent distinction, it’s the other lot: Sheidlower, Ø, Nunberg et al.
    “Britishisms” is a US expression. Don’t ask me. In Britain they talk about “English” and “US English” (, “Malaysian English”, whatever).

  20. Incidentally it’s wrong to imply there was an actual need in the US for the word “gastropub”. Sometime in the 1980s, San Francisco became overrun with establishments called the something “Bar & Grill”, which I believe is not very different to a gastropub. It’s just a marketing update – more so than bespoke, which has additional uses.

  21. Crown, you’re attributing to me things that I didn’t say and attitudes that I don’t have.

  22. I’m sorry – or perhaps I mean I’m happy to hear it. What did you not say?

  23. J.W. Brewer says:

    Active anti-Anglophilia is I think more culturally salient in Australia than it is in the US (the pejorative phrase to keep an eye out for is “colonial cringe,” said to be exhibited by fellow Aussies who allegedly seek to emulate those whinging bloody Pommies). But I don’t know if there are words or turns of phrase common in BrEng but rare in AustEng which can serve as shibboleths for identification of colonial-cringers.

  24. J.W. Brewer says:

    “Gastropub” is a good example of how there are many different imagined Englands or Britains that Anglophilia can latch onto (the Miss Marple version versus the Manchester rave version and so on and so on). A “gastropub” was an innovation that needed a neologism to describe it because it involved less-awful-than-you’d-expect-in-the-U.K. food, right? The stereotype of the U.K. as not-a-culinary-paradise was pretty well established in the U.S. when I was a kid, so using a U.K. neologism in the U.S. to connote something positive in the culinary realm is quite striking.

  25. I’m sure the internal paradox of a gastro pub was implicit at the word’s coinage. Pub food in the Irish Isles can even nowadays be astonishingly bizarre (in a bad way).

  26. “Gastropub” kills my appetite.

  27. AJP Crown – what motive would you ascribe to american centers and theaters calling themselves centres and theatres? (I do professional work for both local theaters and theatres. I don’t like it (the spelling variation, not the work), in no small part because it’s a professional nuisance.)

  28. I don’t know. Perhaps it is pretentious – although I have US citizenship I grew up in London, so it’s VERY difficult for me to see the -re spelling as pretentious – but my point is that if it is, it’s no more pretentious than any other foreign word used in the US. It seems unnecessary to lumber Britain with the stigma-by-association of “pretentiousness” that I’m getting in this thread.

  29. …in fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if more than a few centres and theatres in the US are trying to sound French rather than English.

  30. …and if it’s irritating professionally, blame Noah Webster. He’s the one who deliberately created the -er/-re distinction, not the British.

  31. J.W. Brewer says:

    The house (sorry, “distinguished residence for the discerning few”) of pretentiousness contains many different mansions. So gratuitous-use-of-Britishisms is slightly different from gratuitous-use-of-bits-of-French (which ain’t going away anytime soon – “everything sounds fancier in French” according to a popular series of newish books for young U.S. girls which both of my daughters have enjoyed) which is in turn different from e.g., politicized college kids of my generation who back in the day would show their sympathy for the left-wing side in Central American conflicts by exaggeratedly (and often inaccurately!) echt-Spanish pronunciations of “Nicaragua” or “Salvador.” I’m not sure if I’ve ever noticed an American who had enough gratuitously-borrowed-from-German words/phrases to contitute a notable tic or sociolinguistic subgenre, outside of e.g. conversations about Heidegger or other German-philosophy-dudes where the pretentiousness-if-any inheres in the subject and isn’t really further amplified by using untranslated technical terms. There probably aren’t enough Americans left with decent Latin to form a coherent subculture bonded by gratuitous use of Latinisms. (US lawyers have their own Latinisms, but they’re just part of the trade jargon and at this point I think most of us use the same set whether or not we ever studied Latin.)

  32. “Gastropub” kills my appetite.
    What about gastropods?

  33. The only thing I don’t like about the process is the name. ‘Borrowing’? It’s outright bare-faced theft!

  34. I still find the idea of Americans laughing at anyone else’s cuisine quite amusing.

  35. “Ginger to described red-haired people has come into vogue among Americans in 2012. ”
    Good. Maybe that new meaning will drive out the old meaning – light-to-reddish-skinned African American, as in “Thet theer ginger n*gger…” – can’t remember the citation; it was decades ago.
    Which reminds me – why would Britishisms be considered any more foreign in NAS than Southernisms? It’s all good.

  36. AJP, while you may feel uncomfortable with it, I have a strong suspicion that Americans use British terms out of snob appeal. That implies a certain view of the UK, its culture, and its language that may be quite at odds with reality, but that is not important. The point is that many people in the US appear to feel that using British English expressions is somehow more exclusive, or maybe classier than using the plain vanilla American ones. Whether a British person feels flattered that perfectly ordinary aspects of his/her culture and language are put on a pedestal, or upset that his/her language is being treated this way, or indifferent, isn’t really relevant.
    Recently I was watching a stand-up comedy sketch by a British person pointing out wryly that British men are found attractive (‘sexy’ was the word) not for their physique, fashion sense, or intellect, but because of their accent. This is actually quite funny when you think of it, but frankly, if it gives them an edge in the race to bed attractive women, then I can only suggest that they should stop complaining and make full use of their advantage!

  37. Well, it’s “AJP Crown”, isn’t it, not “AJP Rattingcap”?

  38. AJP Crown – There may be nothing exceptional about the words themselves in their native context, but it’s not unheard of for people to use foreign phrases or otherwise marked language to signal that they’re more worldly than the hoi polloi out there, and not at all absurd for anyone else to call them pretentious for it. The theatres are the ones who have decided to contravene two hundred years of American spelling for appearance’s sake, and a Bar & Grill will serve you a decent hamburger, but an american gastropub will top it with foie gras. It doesn’t matter whether or not the foie gras is mandatory in british gastropubs and the british themselves aren’t at all being blamed.
    Dearie me – how quaint of you!

  39. Gastropub sounds to me like invasive surgery.
    Bathmat, leave me alone, I’m half Australian, I’m not in a race to bed attractive women.

  40. it’s not unheard of for people to use foreign phrases or otherwise marked language to signal that they’re more worldly than the hoi polloi out there
    Of course not. It’s not unheard of for people to do all sorts of things.
    and not at all absurd for anyone else to call them pretentious for it.
    It certainly is unless there’s evidence that those specific people were being pretentious.

  41. british, american english, sure, are different dialects and that is maybe very meaningful to know the differences and use the respective words attaching some deeper meaning for being them british/american
    about that, implied pretentiousness, i think when one learns any foreign language, fluently, it becomes as if like a part of one’s own consciousness, at least vocabulary, it’s not just foreign anymore, something like any other skill like the skill to cook, to drive, so new words in one’s vocabulary also don’t remain something always “foreign” foreign, maybe the young people using the british expressions do not pay any attention to that that those are british, just that’s how their generation talks picking up words from wherever, tv, internet, street, i mean, i liked the expression people are like magpies
    so the people who like to talk inserting french expressions maybe also don’t feel themselves that pretentious, just they use the whatever word comes out first, the expression is maybe shorter and to the point so one wants to use it as if like it is something like a code or a road sign, one word and the meaning is clear, any more or less fluent bi- or more- lingual person can testify to that, i guess
    but mixing is perhaps also just a stage to some next, more advanced step of learning the language, talking fluently on only one of the languages at a time, without mixing
    but i don’t know, depends perhaps on the individual, if one is a snob, one can be snobbish in everything i guess, languages including
    i loved to watch the BBC’s _Keeping up appearances_, very funny, harmless pretentiousness of the granny with her bucket-bouquet pronunciation of her family name, feels somehow different from for example that, hipsterism, i really couldn’t get hipsters obsessing over mostly trifle things that could pass in the end as if like highly cultured interests, so very annoying kind of pretentiousness i used to think, then recently thought maybe these mostly young people just feel insecure to hide behind the whatever it is their attire and activity, so they are maybe glad to belong to some, hipster, group, in the end it’s not that very different behaviour from boyscouts or, say, komsomol, the same sense of belonging, shared interests it gives perhaps, loosely

  42. BBC News had an uncharacteristically good piece on language by the delightfully named Cordelia Hebblethwaite; it discusses how “British English is invading America”

    I agree/disagree. The headline turned out to be quite misleading; a considerable overstatement. I’m not sure that kind of sloppiness would be permitted in a major US newspaper.
    It seemed to me the story contrived to provoke alarm, yet the underlying tone was more in line with Bill Kretzschmar’s remark – that I took as evidence of the un-remarkable use of various words and phrases. In short, it’s a non-story presented in an alarmist manner. Really rubbish journalism, then.
    The story then closes with a particularly egregious misrepresentation – again seemingly intended to provoke: “In the UK, the use of Americanisms is seen as a sign that culture is going to hell.”
    That’s just plain offensive, nevermind inaccurate, and ought to get a retraction and an apology. Some innocent soul will read it and assume it’s true. A cursory study of polyglot Britain would show all manner of Americanisms happily in use, and a mature understanding of linguistic styles, e.g. in harmony with Yagoda’s comments.
    All told, I’m reminded of Richard Blackwell’s self-promoting pronouncements of the “Ten Worst Dressed Women”.

  43. There’s a well-known story about Dorothy Parker encountering an American actor who had been performing in England and liked to remind everybody about it by using British pronunciations for words like “schedule”. “I think you’re full of skit” was her comment. So it’s not a new phenomenon.

  44. Good, they’ve been bitching about American vernacular invading British English for years now, maybe now they’ll finally calm down a bit :P
    Cheers,
    Andrew

  45. “In the UK, the use of Americanisms is seen as a sign that culture is going to hell.”
    I think that’s quite true, provided we understand by Americanism not a word or phrase indigenous to, or preserved in, or even heavily used in, the United States, but rather a word or phrase which is believed to be etc.

  46. You get a very wide range of hat images by googling ratting cap. I would never have guessed any of those people were ratting.

  47. I feel compelled to report back that the comments at Language Log are just as chatty as anywhere else, except that they have long strings of additional comments about how certain people are not sticking to “the topic”.

  48. The headline turned out to be quite misleading
    You do realize that’s as sensible as complaining that the cover of a book is misleading, right? Headlines, like book covers, are created by people whose job it is to sell the product; their relation to what it is they’re supposedly representing can be quite tangential, and to blame the reporter for them is just silly.

  49. LanguageHat – Pretentious might be too strong a word. How about just “a little bit cooler”? A la Anna Pavlovna and la grippe?

  50. Refering to the article by Magnus Pharao Hansen I see our very own Languagehat mentioned in Related Sites.
    I also noticed that the Marija Gimbutas book in the References is the wrong one. The Language of the Goddess is about symbols found at archaeology sites revealing Old Europe, as she called it; a misleading title. The book he should have read is The Civilization of the Goddess which gives her vision of the world of Old Europe.
    One thing she got wrong is assuming that the language(s) of the time were non-Indo-European. At the same time that she was working, the Bulgarian academician Vladimir I. Georgiev was analyzing the diachronic layers of toponyms in the Danube basin and concluding that each one, including the very first, river names, were all Indo-European.

  51. @John Cowan: From H. W. Fowler’s Dictionary of Modern English Usage: “Briticism, the name for an idiom used in Great Britain and not in America, is a barbarism; and should either be Britannicism or Britishism, just as Hibernicism or Irishism will do, but not Iricism. Gallicism and Scot(t)icism and Scotch are in Latin Gallicus and Scot(t)icus, but British is Britannicus. The verbal critic, who alone uses such words, should at least see to it that they are above criticism.”
    Take his advice how you will.

  52. “I still find the idea of Americans laughing at anyone else’s cuisine quite amusing.”
    You’re dating yourself, it’s 2012. There is a lot of great food in America these days. (And European standards have arguably slipped). I also know from personal experience that bakeries in Boston are a lot better than bakeries in Vienna. Sachertorte might have seemed like a good idea in 1900 but times change.

  53. Nothing wrong with Sachertorte or croissantes. I’ll tell you what’s a really bad and totally sick idea and that’s 2012 70% chocolate bars with no sugar in them.

  54. languagehat at 08:56

    Headlines, like book covers, are created by people whose job it is to sell the product

    I suppose that’s true for profit-making enterprises like Fox News, but as the BBC is a non-profit funded by a tax on TV owners, the standard of reportage is meant to be much better.
    If it were a commercial paper, I’d spend my money elsewhere, in line with my expectations for the headline to reflect the contents.

    to blame the reporter for them is just silly

    I suppose so. But I think my point holds if one takes ‘the reporter’ as a metonym for the entire operation. It’s still rubbish journalism. It also happens to chime with my sense of UK journalistic standards more generally. The Leveson Inquiry corroborates some of that. I’m not aware of what goes on behind the scenes in US papers like the LA Times, Chicago Sun-Times, Boston Globe and other major regionals, but near-daily reading of those papers leaves me with a better impression than this BBC article.

  55. Dp, the point of yours that holds is that when a non-USian starts complaining, based on their experience of McDonalds, Coke & Disney etc., that US culture isn’t up to snuff, then as night follows day a USian will certainly respond with similar smears. It’s human nature: if I say your sister’s stupid, you’re going to reply that my brother’s ugly. Conversely, I bet if you met me and I gushed about how wonderful the food is in NY and that I love Tom Waits and Saul Bellow, you’d tell me in return how you’ve always liked Shakespeare or Private Eye or you think Boris Johnson’s way funnier than Mitt Romney. So why not follow your own advice and stop making nutty pronouncements that are based on your “impressions”? They don’t change anyone’s mind, and you’ll probably find you like yourself better for the change.

  56. By the way, the BBC is also funded by selling crap programmes like Top Gear all over the world.

  57. I haven’t heard [ginger] used to imply homosexuality [among Americans]
    That’s because “ginger = gay” is rhymning slang – ginger beer.
    It IS funny for Britons to hear Americans reacting to Britishisms being used by their fellow countrymen, because the assumption in Britain has always been that the traffic is entirely one-way – that Americanisms are constantly infiltrating the pure language of the Bard. I don’t believe anyone in the UK would start a blog called “Not One-Off Americanisms”.
    Changing the subject again, as someone who has written thousands of headlines in my career, I can tell you that the point of a headline is to make you want to read the story below, and is meant to be enticing rather than totally accurate, rather like the picture on the outside of a packet of frozen food. Would anyone have bothered to read a story that said: “A few originally solely British expressions now being used by a tiny minority of Americans”?

  58. The fact that the BBC is non-profit doesn’t make it any less in competition with commercial enterprises. If nobody’s watching or listening, the government will turn off the flow of money, so they need market share as much as anyone else.

  59. the point of a headline is to make you want to read the story below, and is meant to be enticing rather than totally accurate
    ___________________
    Smart, taut headlines are hard to write.
    But they’ve become easier in the digital era. Writers are no longer confined to x characters per 18, 24, 30 and so forth point-size per column-width, where the headline writer also had to know the width of each character.
    Print headline too short? Up the size by two points. Too long? Knock it down by half a point. And if you know how, kern it too.
    Electronic publication? Let it break where it will and forget the flow of phrases.
    ___________________
    A madman escapes from a lunatic asylum, runs into a commercial laundry across the street and rapes a female worker.
    Next day’s newspaper headline:
    Nut bolts and screws washer

  60. “A few originally solely British expressions now being used by a tiny minority of Americans”
    It’s so unusual, I’d definitely read it now.
    I strongly recommend Zythophile‘s current blog post about bar names (no, not pub names) in northern & southern English drinking establishments.

  61. Trond Engen says:

    Thanks, Crown, and thanks, Zytho! I knew someone going by the name of Zythophile had to love his beer, but apparently I have never clicked to discover the blog.

  62. That is an amazing essay; I’m gonna post the sucker.

  63. I have never been to Boston, so am unable to comment on the quality of the baked goods sold there, but I love Sachertorte and so do lots of people around the world, otherwise the Hotel Sacher et al would not be doing a roaring trade in them.

  64. Should be “Nut screws washers & bolts”.

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