Americanisms

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As an American, sometimes it's tough to know which commonly-used words and phrases are particular to America, and sound strange in other parts of the world. There was a fascinating round-up of "Americanisms" on this BBC blog the other day, and I wanted to share a few here. Some I find surprising -- what, you guys don't say that? -- and others irritate me as much as the Brits.

• I hear more and more people pronouncing the letter Z as "zee". Not happy about it! - Ross, London

Can't help you there, Ross. "Zed" sounds just as bizarre to our ears.

• "I could care less" instead of "I couldn't care less" has to be the worst. Opposite meaning of what they're trying to say. - Jonathan, Birmingham

I could care more, Jonathan. A lot more.

• My favourite one was where Americans claimed their family were "Scotch-Irish." This of course it totally inaccurate, as even if it were possible, it would be "Scots" not "Scotch", which as I pointed out is a drink. - James, Somerset

What about the phrase "Scot free" -- should that be "Scots free?" (As a whiskey aficionado, I prefer Scotch free. FOR free, that is. HEH.)

• "I got it for free" is a pet hate. You got it "free" not "for free." You don't get something cheap and say you got it "for cheap" do you? - Mark Jones, Plymouth

Damn, now they're picking on me. I have, in fact, heard people say they got something "for cheap." Not very often, mind you. While we're on the subject, "pet hate" is a really strange saying that we don't use here in America. It conjures visions of you taking your hate for walks, buying it organic food, letting it sleep at the foot of your bed. Getting a little too cozy with your hate, you are.

• Surely the most irritating is: "You do the Math." Math? It's MATHS. - Michael Zealey, London

OK, I am REALLY not on board for this one. My position on the matter is this: if you're going to shorten a word -- like, say, mathematics -- you don't get to use the first four letters and then cherry-pick the last letter, in some linguistic approximation of FRANKENSTEIN'S MONSTER. Furthermore, if it bothers you that much, Michael, perhaps we Americans will just start saying "Mathematic" and leave off that pesky S. What's plural about it? We don't say "I'm going to sciences class." SHEESH.

OK, time for our readers to weigh in. I'm getting too emotional here.

July 29, 2011 - 3:02am
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