Another week, another homicide, writes Car lJones. Followed inevitably by an autopsy. Whatever happened to the good old British TV crime dictionary?
There are some spankingly satisfying American dramas on our screens these days.
From Boardwalk Empire to Homeland, you certainly can’t knock the studios for the way they have raised the bar by splashing out big-time budgets on small-screen shows.
But the downside of championing so many imports from across the Pond is the way that it has escalated the spread of Americanisms, which now seem to permeate every part of our daily life.
“Can I get a skinny latte?” asked the most British of young ladies at a certain well known coffee chain this week. It just sounded so wrong. I’m not even sure she knew what she was ordering. When did “Please can I have...” become wrong? Did she think she was in the bustling heart of New York city with the cast of Friends?
I’m no fuddy-duddy when it comes to language (although I have to be honest, inappropriate use of the apostrophe does drive me bonkers) but I draw the line at sitting at my computer, and being told I’ve mis-spelled something just because I’ve used British English, rather than American English. Imagine if that happened the other way round to our friends in the US of A.
There does seem to be an assumption that folk in little old Blighty should to simply adapt to the Americanisation of our language, when it quite patently doesn’t work both ways.
Remember what happened to Cheryl Cole. The moment she tried to inject a bit of Geordie heritage into the American X Factor, she was unceremoniously dumped because the locals couldn’t understand a word she was saying. Or at least, didn’t want to have to try.
But I’m pleased to report that, to use a suitably British phrase, Americans are becoming just as cheesed off as us.
To them, they’re caught in a swirl of Ricky Gervais, Simon Cowell, Russell Brand and Adele. There’s a whole generation of US citizens who have grown up on the public school antics of Harry Potter, and are now captivated by the stately home grandeur of Downton Abbey.
Crikey, New York writer Alex Williams has even put pen to paper to describe how he feels ‘Britishisms’ are everywhere.
Snippets of the British vernacular – ‘cheers’ as a thank you, ‘brilliant’ as an affirmative, ‘loo’ as a bathroom – were until recently as rare as steak and kidney pie on their shores. But UK imports are evidently changing all that.
“Call it Anglocreep. Call it annoying,” Alex says. “But the next time an American ‘mate’ asks you to ‘ring’ her on her ‘mobile’ about renting your ‘flat’ during your ‘holiday’, it’s fair to ask, have we all become Madonna?” Hmm, so much for our supposed ‘special relationship’.
The man’s clearly a patriot who bemoans the way cross-country TV shows are contributing to our loss of cultural identity. But consider this: if so many people are willing to give up these traditional forms and phrases this easily, perhaps we should accept that they didn’t have as much value as we might have imagined.<
One thing’s for certain; thanks to American dramas, our everyday language is at a crossroads . . . or should that be an intersection?