Nearly 20 years after the Cool Britannia cultural invasion of America, the transatlantic sway continues.
Britishisms are everywhere, writes – or complains, to be more precise – Alex Williams in the New York Times.
Call it Anglocreep. Call it annoying. Snippets of British vernacular – ‘cheers’ as a thank you, ‘brilliant’ as an affirmative, ‘loo’ as a bathroom – that were until recently as rare as steak and kidney pie on these shores are cropping up in the daily speech of Americans (particularly, New Yorkers) of the taste-making set who often have no more direct tie to Britain than an affinity for Downton Abbey.
Williams is not alone in detecting the upsurge. Similar trends have been detected by British newspapers the Guardian, the Telegraph, as well as in the online BBC News Magazine, which ran a followup with readers’ picks of the 30 most common Britishisms in use in the US.
The use of British verbal imports is acceptable if there is “no direct American equivalent”, Jesse Sheidlower, the US-born editor at large of the Oxford English Dictionary, tells the NY Times.
So “twee” is OK. But “loo” is a no-no: “If you say that, you’re just being pretentious.”
And beware the shifts in meaning. Such as with “chat up”, a helpful British linguist tells Williams. “It means ‘flirting with intention to bed’ here, but is used in the US to mean ‘talk to’.”
Ah. That explains a lot.