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Words and Stuff

Regulars | By Johnny Grimond

That’s the way the teacake crumbles

Awesome, like totally awesome.’ The word ‘like’, used in this way, has spread with the speed and potency of an invasive plant. Its popularity is to me – and I suspect to many – inexplicable. So let’s blame it on the Americans. Blaming America for messing up ‘our’ language is an old pastime. The good Dr Johnson declared: ‘I am willing to love all mankind, except an American.’ And now more than ever, the British like to complain about the Americanisation of their tongue. The latest lament is a book, That’s the Way it Crumbles by Matthew Engel, who believes that, by 2120, American English may have absorbed British English completely. His work is intended to help rid us of our ‘self-imposed verbal enslavement’. I can’t say I feel enslaved. There are plenty of American words and usages I don’t like. I prefer ‘rumpus’ to ‘ruckus’, ‘snigger’ to ‘snicker’, ‘goose-pimples’...

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