We’re Amurrkins, and we tawk funny, m’kay?

The linguistic superiority on display from BBC readers is really quite funny. Some highlights:

2. The next time someone tells you something is the “least worst option“, tell them that their most best option is learning grammar. Mike Ayres, Bodmin, Cornwall

It’s less cumbersome than saying “the least of several evils” and more nuanced than calling it the “best option.” I won’t apologize for using the phrase.

9. “Touch base” – it makes me cringe no end. Chris, UK

Keep on clutching those pearls and you’ll break the string.

11. Transportation. What’s wrong with transport? Greg Porter, Hercules, CA, US

“Transport” is a verb. “Transportation” is a noun.

15. What kind of word is “gotten“? It makes me shudder. Julie Marrs, Warrington

We use a different participle for “get” here in America. We looked at all those verbs with irregular participles and decided that “get” would make a nice addition. It’s totally sound grammar here.

22. Train station. My teeth are on edge every time I hear it. Who started it? Have they been punished? Chris Capewell, Queens Park, London

You mean you call it something else?

23. To put a list into alphabetical order is to “alphabetize it” – horrid! Chris Fackrell, York

Oh, we’re such horrible, renegade Anglophones, with our using two words to do the job of six!

29. I’m a Brit living in New York. The one that always gets me is the American need to use the word bi-weekly when fortnightly would suffice just fine. Ami Grewal, New York

“Fortnightly” is one of those words we gave up when we told King George III to go fuck himself. We don’t need to pick it up again. “Bi-weekly” is much clearer.

32. Going forward? If I do I shall collide with my keyboard. Ric Allen, Matlock

It’s called an idiom, and our language is full of them. You might want to look up the concept some time.

36. Surely the most irritating is: “You do the Math.” Math? It’s MATHS. Michael Zealey, London

Here in America, we say “math.” No one here says “maths.” It’s just one of the ways that Americans’ use of the English language has changed since we ceased to be an English colony. We think “math” is a perfectly suitable abbreviation of “mathematics” and we tend to see it as a non-count noun. It saves us a tricky set of consonants.

42. Period instead of full stop. Stuart Oliver, Sunderland

Perhaps because “full stop” sounds like a driving instruction?

48. “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

Actually, we talk about getting things “for cheap” all the time.

I’m aware that the complaint was originally supposed to be about how US English is affecting UK English, but some of the list items are really just comments on the way Americans talk. Unless the British still speak exactly the same way as they did in the late 18th century, they shouldn’t be surprised to hear some different words coming from our mouths.

Classist, hostile control freak lectures stepson’s fiance on good manners.

As much as I lecture here on etiquette, I think it’s important to remember that behind every rule of good manners there should be some connection to the real world, and when the times change enough that those connections no longer apply, then the etiquette point in question needs to be reconsidered. The purpose of good manners is ultimately to make other people comfortable. If you’re using “manners” to make someone feel uncomfortable and unwelcome, then you’re doing it wrong.

There’s a post on Jezebel today about an email (which may or may not be real) that a British woman received from her fiance’s step-mother, and, assuming it’s real, it is a fascinating display of how proper etiquette is so easily abused. There are a lot of comments on the article saying, “Well, her tone is out of line, but it’s good advice she’s giving and the daughter-in-law-to-be is obviously very rude and needs to learn some things.” This is assuming that the recipient really is as obnoxious and ill-intentioned as the letter makes her out to be, and I would argue that the letter writer exhibits an attitude that begs a critical view.

Now, maybe this is just a culture that I don’t sufficiently understand. After all, I’m a metropolitan mid-Atlantic American; we’re not sufficiently concerned with manners for the South, and not sufficiently concerned with gentility for the North, and we’ve long since lost our British ancestors’ sense of propriety. Meanwhile I’ve been spoiled by the Albanian sense of hospitality, and I will tell you what, there are parts of that culture that make me tear my hair out, but they make a genuine effort to make their guests feel welcome and comfortable. I guess that’s a gene that’s been repeatedly reinforced in the Albanian population but conspicuously absent from some parts of the British upper crust.

So, let’s go over this sucker point by point. Weapons-grade sarcasm ahead!

It is high time someone explained to you about good manners. Yours are obvious by their absence and I feel sorry for you.

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Afshan Azad’s brother still an idiot, film at 11

Ashraf Azad, dumbassed older brother of the lovely Afshan Azad (aka Padma Patil in Harry Potter), has been sentenced to six months in jail for trying to kill her.

“The background to this offence lies in the concern that you, and perhaps other family members, had about Afshan’s relationship with a young man who was not of the Islamic faith.”

He added: “This is a sentence that is designed to punish you for what you did and also to send out a clear message to others that domestic violence involving circumstances such as have arisen here cannot be tolerated.”

IOW: the judge is having none of that “this is just our culture” nonsense.

I stand by my opinion that this family was colossally stupid to treat their daughter this way after she got her face on movie screens all over the world. It’s not quite as simple as the whole family turning on Afshan; Ashraf’s wife, Sonia, tried to get him to stop attacking his sister. She seems to be the only one still in that house with sense; their father suggested sending his daughter to Bangladesh for a forced marriage, their mother called her a prostitute. And now their names are in the news for all the world to see because the daughter they threatened and attacked is a famous film actress.

For her part, Afshan was bright enough to get the hell out of that house and move to London. But all that said, it shouldn’t really be surprising that she’s now asking the courts not to punish her brother. This is the only family she’s ever known, and she loves them. Besides, if this is how they treat her for dating a Hindu guy, just imagine how they’ll blame and shame her if her brother goes to prison “because of her.” It’s one thing to “know” your family’s attitude is bullshit and you shouldn’t have to live like this, and it’s quite another to cut ties and risk never speaking to them again. Perhaps she’s afraid the situation will escalate; that Ashraf will track her down after he finishes his jail term and attempt to kill her again if she doesn’t make a show of defending him. Somehow I suspect that her sticking up for him will only placate him temporarily, if at all. But those of us looking in have the privilege of not having grown up with that family. It’s easy enough for us to say that her brother’s a monster who forfeited her loyalty when he tried to strangle her, but it’s not so simple for her.


The martyrs are coming!

Via RD.net, the BBC gives us news of the Archbishop of Westminster telling his faithful to flaunt it if they’ve got it.

Writing a week after the papal visit, Rev Nichols said: “With the blessings of this visit we can be more confident in our faith and more ready to speak about it and let it be seen each day.

Perhaps I’m just too American a heathen to understand the plight of the poor marginalized British Catholics, but…what? Is this really a problem for believers in Britain? That they feel invisible, underconfident and silenced? Really?

“A small step we can all take is to be quicker to say to others that we will pray for them, especially to those in distress.

Depending on the nature of the distress, there are certain things one can do which might help. If I’m upset and crying in front of other people, for example, I appreciate it far more when someone hands me a tissue.

If you want to pray for someone though—and notice it’s not just about the praying, but about announcing the intention to pray—you can go right ahead and pray all you want. It won’t accomplish anything, but as long as you don’t genuflect where I’m trying to walk, I won’t try to stop you.

“Even the simple step of more regularly using the greeting ‘God bless you’, gently and naturally, would make a difference to the tone we set in our daily lives, as would the more frequent use of the sign of the cross.

Gently and naturally? As opposed to roughly and unnaturally? How exactly do you use “God bless you” naturally as a greeting? What kind of tone would it set to cross yourself more frequently? I guess it would make the nonbelievers give you a wide berth?

“Making faith visible is so much a part of the invitation the Holy Father has extended to us all.”

Something tells me—and again, this may just be the American atheist in me talking—that the Archbishop is hoping for his faithful to create more opportunities to annoy secularists (and perhaps Muslims, too, while they’re at it), which would therefore give Catholics more of a chance to feel oppressed and martyred and complain about how the nasty nonbelievers are so meeeeeeeean to them.

The Catholic Church is still one of the largest and most powerful religions in the world. The UK government just shelled out seven figures in major currency for the Pope to pay a visit, and the Archbishop uses that as a springboard to act like Catholics are an invisible minority who need to come out of their shells? What?