It's not spelled like that, old chap!
If you're like me, certain things irritate you - like being stopped at a red light when you're in a rush or turning on your favourite TV programme just as the end credits are rolling.
But as my wife tells me all the time, "Is it really that important?" Of course not...but some things take irritation to a whole new level...
I arrive at work late again (damn those red lights!). I sit down at my desk and open my next translation assignment. It tells me I'm required to translate an article into English. No problem. But then I take a closer look...it's American English! Stars and stripes flash before my eyes. My mind is awash with huge gas guzzlers and corn dogs, loud, brash people and, crucially, the corruption of my beloved language! How can I bring myself to write about an attorney repairing his punctured tire by the side of the freeway, which he's just fetched from the trunk of his station car, when all my instincts are screaming out to call him a lawyer repairing a punctured tyre by the side of the motorway, which he's just fetched from the boot of his estate!
The Empire is dead...long live the Empire!
When I moved to Denmark from the UK, I was surprised to see some Danes misspelling words like color and authorize. Then it dawned on me: I'm British, therefore I speak British English. For Danes, however, their exposure to English has been predominantly through the media of film, television and the internet. It's worth considering for a moment what kind of language you're most likely to listen to and read through these forms of media.
Of course, Britain used to be the great world power, ruling the waves and claiming ownership of much of the planet on behalf of the great British Empire, but those days are gone. Of course, Britain still plays an important role in world affairs, but it's America's turn to influence the world. A recent study carried out by the University of Tampere confirmed that America has a much greater influence on global mass media and media technology than Britain. It's logical, therefore, that more people have adopted American English.
Another interesting point made by the study is the 'cool' factor associated with American pop culture. Hell, I even do it myself when I'm shootin' pool and drinkin' Bud with the bros. For me, it just isn't that cool to say that I'm going to the pub to play some pool and have a pint with my mates. It seems that the chance to sound like your favourite TV star or Hollywood movie idol is too good to miss. Who wouldn't want to sound like Marsellus Wallace from the film Pulp Fiction when he eloquently said "You hear me talkin', hillbilly boy? I ain't through with you by a damn sight. I'ma get medieval on your ass!"
There is no British English
To claim that British English is the correct version of English is to ignore the fact that my version of British English is often quite different to someone else's version. Of course, Oxford and Cambridge publish lengthy tomes that they deem to be the last word (pun intended) in English vocabulary, but travel up and down the cities and towns of Britain and you'll come across a thousand words that aren't recognised by these two great establishments. I'm getting defensive about British English, but aren't my own people doing the very thing that I'm trying to protect them from?!
English is evolving.
Inspired by the world of the internet and text messaging, the urban dictionary contains over 3.5 million words or phrases spewed from the minds of people who communicate in a way that's gobbledigook to the rest of us (gobbledigook, by the way, isn't defined in the urban dictionary, but googledigook is). Still, I suppose terms like "post-Potter depression" and "homoblivious" are strangely meaningful...and also quite funny!
On second thoughts, English is not evolving, it's mutating. Same meaning, different connotations.
Is it coz I is British?
I think part of the issue is my 'Britishness'. To me, some things are sacred, like Royalty, like fish and chips, like the British pound......like the English language. It just isn't cricket to go messing around with a language that's been around since the 1st Century! But I have to think about what I'm saying. The version of English that I speak today is unrecognisable from the version that made its way from the coasts of northwest Europe. The language that I'm defending so vociferously is itself a product of evolution (or mutation).
Let it go, bro...
It seems that change is inevitable. I shouldn't think of it in terms of how my language is being eroded, but rather try to come to terms with the fact that the English language never was a static entity - and never will be. Who knows, in the future we might be so technologically advanced that the human race will adopt a single language - like binary!
01000110 01100001 01110010 01100101 01110111 01100101 01101100 01101100
Category: LANGUAGE WE LIVE BY