British Children Turning to American English

I’ve just been reading on the Internet, the story that British children are increasingly turning to American English in their and writing.

A report by the BBC shows that Americanisms such as cupcake, garbage truck, trash can, candy, sidewalk and soda were found in many of the entries for Chris Evans’ 500 Words competition, after Oxford University Press studied around 74000 of the entries.

I found it quite interesting that there is a trend for Americanisms coming in to the UK – of course, its nothing new, its been happening for well over 100 years – but it did got me thinking about how English is evolving.

I know that when I write, I often use Americanisms: not as extreme as replacing ‘bin’ with ‘trash can’ – mainly its minor spelling differences: sometimes deliberate, sometimes not. For example: writing ‘center’ rather than ‘centre’ (which, by the way, is underlined in red on my computer) and ‘license’ instead of ‘licence’ (not underlined in red on my computer) are conscious decisions that I make, because I like to write things in the way that we say them. But lets not forget, the spelling of ‘centre’ is itself not British. The use of ‘re’ in that order comes from French!

But there are other things that influence the English language, besides the Americans. With more countries joining the EU it seems every year, more people are coming to the UK from abroad and bring with them their culture.

And for me personally? There’s also the fact that I speak both Greek and German – I speak differently to people who don’t sometimes pronouncing things incorrectly.

One particular example of this is the first Director General of the BBC: Lord Reith – one time I incorrectly pronounced it as ‘Lord R-eye-th’ as opposed to ‘Lord R-ee-th’. This is because I read the ‘ei’ and pronounced it the German way: in German ‘ei’ is pronounced ‘eye’, and ‘ie’ as ‘ee’. Or in simple terms: the second letter of the two is the one you pronounce in German.

It is also not uncommon for me to use Greek or German terms when normally you wouldn’t. I like to refer to the Greek city of ‘Thessaloniki’ rather than using the Anglicized version, ‘Salonika’ (I hate the word ‘Salonika’). I eat ‘Souvlaki’ not ‘Kebabs’. I have, on occasion, read the word ‘Hamburger’ as ‘Hamburg’s’ (which is of course what it would mean in Germany), rather than the food. Can you tell I don’t eat Hamburgers? One of the German radio stations I listen to is based in Hamburg too.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with me allowing my use of the English language to be influenced by the US, Greek and German culture. In fact, it is the sort of thing I like. It is these influences that set me apart from everyone else. In the same way that I let Greek and German culture influence my everyday language, I am sure there are others who are influenced by the way that the French, or the Polish, or Spanish languages work.

This type of evolution of the English language is a direct result of the fact that air travel makes it easier for us to get out of the country, or for others to come to the UK, and being part of the EU means that some can do so freely, with very little restriction on how long they can stay here for.

Let’s not forget: Britain is a very multicultural society and I like that.


Fred Hart

Stock Controller and Radio Presenter/Producer

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