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This is from John in London. And John says: .

“Oftentimes” just makes me shiver with annoyance. Fortunately I’ve not noticed it over here yet. So it makes him shiver with annoyance. och och it’s so annoying. Calm down John, it’s not that bad. Oftentimes. Well, actually‘oftentimes’ is used in Macbeth, by Shakespeare. Banquo. One of the characters in the play, Macbeth says oftentimes. So it’s an example of English that was used over here, the Americans then took it over there. We stopped using it, they continued, and now we just get pissed off about it because we assume it’s wrong. So, Shakespeare used it, John. You’d know that if you’d read some. Then again, if you read Shakespeare these days it’s seriously difficult to understand. At least, so oftentimes is pretty clear, isn’t it?Oftentimes - really it’s not necessary though. We just say often .So I agree that it’s not a great word, but actually , if you say, if you say: Fortunately I haven’t noticed it over here yet, well, you haven’t noticed it because you haven’t read any Shakespeare. In fact it was over there five hundred years ago when Shakespeare was knocking around. So, okay.

Number 28

Eaterie. An eaterie. This is from Alastair in Maidstone.

And he says eaterie to use as a prevalent phrase – oh my gaad! So aneaterie is a noun which is a place where you eat. Okay?


prevalent feeling/opinion:vorherrschende Meinung

Grammar Man says: While you’re at the eatery, would you like some fish and some French fries with your whine?

Okay that’s another kind of word joke here from Grammar Man.

With your whine. Wine, as we know is a drink, red wine or white wine. But also whine is another word, spelled w h i n e and to whine is to complain about things in an annoying way. Like:

‘Oh God, why you are making such a huge difference in English? oou! That’s to whine about something. So he is saying: Would you like some fish and French fries with your whine? So he is just suggesting that Alastair is just whining about this particular word and also there is a kind of a dig here from Grammar Man about ‘fish and chips.’

In America they don’t call them chips they call them fries or French fries so he is saying fish and French fries and actually it’s fish and chips.


Number 29

This is from Ami in New York and the comment goes ‘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.’

it get sb.:jdn.nerven

So the woman always gets me is the American need to use the word bi-weekly when fortnightly would suffice just fine.’

Okay, so fortnight is two weeks, okay, I’ll see you in a fortnight. It means I’ll see you in two weeks. Fortnightly is the adverb and the Americans might saybi-weekly. But, okay. I don’t think there is really anything that wrong with bi-weekly. Bi you know it’s a prefix which means two, like bicyle, bisexual for example. Bi means two. Bi-weekly. I mean, I think it’s really clear. A bi-weekly meeting means a meeting that’s gonna happen every two weeks.

And . Grammar Man says:

The meaning of the former term is more obvious, and it’s three characters shorter.

So he is saying that bi-weekly is actually more obvious than fortnightly and I kind of agree and it’s three characters shorter, so it’s actually a shorter word. So he is suggesting that bi-weekly is better. Judging whether – deciding whether a word or one word is better than another is really very subjective and so if the Brits say fortnightly, they prefer it just out of habit just because that’s the language that they speak and it’s all part of their cultural identity. And so it’s very such a subjective choice. We just know fortnightly because you’ve heard it since you were a child and so when you hear bi-weekly, it just feels wrong, feels unnatural. But really if you take a look at the language properly, it’s not really wrong, it means something, it is not grammatically incorrect, it’s just different. Okay.

Number 30

I hate “alternate” for “alternative”. I don’t like this as they are two distinct words, both have distinct meanings and it’s useful to have both. Using alternate for alternative deprives us of a word. That’s Catherine in London.

And Grammar Man says:

You have a point. But I don’t think the confusion is particularly American.

So he is saying we all get confused with alternate and alternative and that’s not just an American thing.

Number 31

“Hike” a price. Does that mean people who do that are hikers? No, hikers are ramblers! That’s M Holloway from Accrington in England.

So to hike a price basically means to raise a price. Okay, but we also have a word ‘hike’ which means go for a walk in the country side.

to raise a price:einen Preis erhöhen

to hike up fares:die Fahrpreise erhöhen

And a hiker is a person who goes for a walk in the country side. A rambler is the same thing and

Grammar Man says:

No, hikers are backpackers; ramblers are wanderers. Okay, so he is saying that basically in America a backpacker – they call hikers backpackers and they call ramblers wanderers. So backpackers and wanderers- just two sets of words – they mean the same thing. Right? So in England we say hikers and ramblers, in America they say backpackers and wanderers. So there you go. Deal with it!

Number 32

Going forward? If I do so I shall collide with my keyboard.

That’s Ric Allen in Matlock. So going forward is an expression. Again you might hear in business meeting and it basically means going into the future – moving forward into the future. So going forward. But it’s a cliché. So people just drop that into a sentence all the time when they are talking about things to do in the future. For example going forward, I think we need to look carefully at our marketing campaigns. Right?

Going forward we need to broaden our product range for example, okay? So going forward. So, I think Ric Allen is saying that going forward is confusing because if you go forward you’ll collide with your keyboard. Literally go forward. But come on, Ric, going forward is clearly an idiomatic use of the language and you can’t be unaware that English is full of idiomatic expressions as like most languages are. So going forward doesn’t mean literally going forward, come on, it just means metaphorically going forward.

metaphorically speaking:bildlich gesprochen

Grammar Man says:

British schools must be in a worse state than American schools, if a Brit is allowed to pass English without understanding the difference between figurative and literal language.

So figurative language is like methaphoric language and he is saying basically he is surprised that Ric doesn’t know the difference between figurative and literal language.

Right let’s take another break from the list here and look at some commentary about the idea of language change and how people feel about unwanted elements in language. This is from an article by Sue Fox from the linguistic research Digest and you can see the link on the page. And it goes like this:

Kate Burridge, a researcher and Professor of Linguistics, has taken a look at the attitudes and activities of ordinary people as reflected in letters to newspapers, listener comments on radio and email responses to her own comments made about language in various broadcasts. She states that linguistic purists tend to make a very clear distinction between what they see as ‘clean’ and ‘dirty’ in language – in other words, what is desirable or undesirable. There are two aspects to this distinction; the first is that purists tend to want to retain the language in its perceived traditional form and they therefore resist language change and the second is that they want to rid the language of what they consider to be ‘unwanted elements’, including foreign influences. Burridge likens linguistic purism to dealing with taboo practices generally – ‘the human struggle to control unruly nature’.

Some of the examples that Burridge provides are quite alarming. People often get very abusive, this is when they feel upset about unwanted elements in language or language change. People often get very abusive making aggressive statements about how people who use certain “wrong usages” should be killed. Some people seem hysterical about language change. One person referred to the ‘rape of the English language’ as ‘escalating out of control’ and ‘indulged in by people of all ages’. As Burridge notes, these are clearly passionate and confident responses, indicating that language matters to a lot of people.

Burridge also notes that many extracts that she has examined express concern over the ‘Americanization’ of English, especially as it pertains to New Zealand and Australian English, where the topic is hotly debated. She refers to newspaper headlines such as ‘Facing an American Invasion’ and to one writer who considers that English is deteriorating into a ‘kind of abbreviated American juvenile dialect’.

Why, then, do people hold such strong views about language use? The view held by Burridge, and indeed most linguists, is that such concerns about language use are not usually based on genuine linguistic worries but are reflections of deeper and more general social concerns. She suggests that the opposition to American English is more to do with linguistic insecurity in the face of a cultural, political and economic superpower and that somehow American English poses a threat to authentic ‘downunder English’ and perhaps to Australian and New Zealand cultural identity. Similarly, links are often made between ‘bad language’ and ‘bad behaviour’ and there is often an (unjustified) idea promoted that if a person has no regard for the nice points of grammar, then that person will probably have no regard for the law. With such deeply embedded attitudes towards language use, it is perhaps no wonder that we find such emotionally charged responses.

What, though, are the views of younger people who have grown up with awareness of linguistic variation and change? Schoolchildren are taught about standard and non-standard uses and in the media there is a wide array of regional accents used by presenters and broadcasters. E-communication is also playing a role in promoting colloquial and nonstandard language to the point where it may be achieving a new kind of respectability within society. We might think that these new attitudes could signal the end of linguistic purism but according to a survey conducted by Burridge among first year university linguistics students, the results revealed that there was still an overwhelming intolerance towards language change, especially when it came to American English influence. Of the 71 students interviewed, 81% expressed concern that the use of American elements was detrimental to Australian English.

It seems then that language attitudes are very deeply entrenched and that new attitudes and practices will take much longer to change, if they ever will. As Burridge concludes, the ‘definition of ‘dirt’ might change over the years, but the desire to clean it remains the same’.

Okay, so, I guess making a few points - one is that people are very very passionate about their feelings regarding language change particularly when it’s from a foreign source like America and so they get upset about it because it somehow goes right to the core of their cultural identity and also it seems that even young people who are sort of educated about linguistics, they still don’t like the American influence and so fact is, these things are very deep and personal.

Okay, moving on

Number 33

Let’s get through this list in this episode. Let’s keep it in one episode, if possible. Okay! Number 33:

This is from Joseph Wall in Newark-on-Trent in Nottinghamshire. And Josephsays: I hate the word “deliverable”. Used by management consultants for something that they will “deliver” instead of a report. So, you know, we will be able to sense a few deliverables. What kind of deliverables can you give me on this? I suppose meaning sort of what kind of reports can you deliver?

Well, Grammar Man says:

I will not be held accountable for either the actions or the discourse of corporate America.

So again he is gonna distances himself away from the business world and saying, he is suggesting, I suppose that in business people do strange things and they speak in strange ways. So, in this case they turned the word deliver into a noun and said deliverable. But there we go again. The Americans turning nouns into verbs. They are quite fond of that.

Number 34:

This is from Gordon Brown in Coventry. I don’t think that’s the former Prime Minister of Britain. Gordon Brown. I think it’s probably just a coincidence. Maybe this Grodon Brown - maybe I should do it in a Gordon Brown voice. Let’s try that.

I have never ever tried to do a Gordon Brown voice in my life before but I am gonna do it now. You probably don’t know who Gordon Brown is. Well a fact is he was the Prime Minister of Britain for quite a few years between 2000 – when did he become Prime Minister? 2007 I think – until about 2010. So just about three years. He wasn’t very popular. But anyway this is what his voice sounds like. This is what I think his voice sounds.

The most annoying – no, I can’t do it. No, in fact I’ve just realised that I can’t do it. But what I will do is, I will do it in the voice of John Connery because it’s the closest thing I can do to Gordon Brown. Okay, so

The most annoying Americanism is “a million and a half” when it is clearly one and a half million! A million and a half is 1 million point five where one and a half million is one million five hundred thousand. That’s Gordon Brown in Coventry.

That was the crappiest John McConnery voice I’ve ever done. Honestly, I do it normally much better than that.

Anyway, the most annoying Americanism is ‘a million and a half’ when it’s clearly one and a half million. A million and a half is one million point five where one and a half million is one million five hundred thousand.

Hmm, okay.

Well Grammar Man says:

You may have a point. Maybe you have a point. A million and a half could mean a million and half of one - you know like a million point five.

Okay, fine! a million and a half. But I think we all know what a million and a half is. If you say that. I think so. But maybe there is a point. Maybe you should say one and a half million. Okay.

Number 35

This is Nerina in London. and she says: “Reach out to” when the correct word is “ask”. For example: “I will reach out to Kevin and let you know if that timing is convenient”. Reach out? Is Kevin stuck in quicksand? Is he teetering on the edge of a cliff? Can’t we just ask him? says Nerina in London

So to reach out to someone instead of ask someone. Well, Nerina, these kind of – these kinds of phrasal verbs they are not just exclusive to American English, are they? I mean we have plenty of these phrasal verbs in English. It’s not just something the Americans are doing. For example let’s see: To go past in fact. To go past is a good one. Alright to copy me in on a message. You copy me in on that message. Copy me in on the message. Can’t you just say: Can you copy me in a message. Copy me on the message? Why do we have to say in on the message. I mean there is no real logic in many cases to phrasal verbs in the way they are used prepositions. They just become separate items of lectures. So reach out to is okay but I understand that the meaning of it. Why do we say reach out as if someone is like somehow difficult to reach - we reach out to them, like stretching your arm out to get in touch with someone. Okay, well

Grammar Man says:

That idiom has its uses, but it can be overused, I agree.

So to reach out to someone can be useful. Maybe if someone is a – like some difficult to contact or they are not likely to get back in touch with you, you reach out. You know it’s difficult. You can say maybe you reach out your arm and hope that they’ll come and grab it in the same way that you try to contact with someone and just hope that they reciprocate and make contact with you. So you reach out to someone maybe - someone is very angry with you and you want him to forgive you - you don’t know if they will but you just kind of reach out to them and eh you know really politely plead that they forgive you, might be the case when it’s used. But maybe reach out to is overused and you should just say ask in many cases.

Number 36

Surely the most irritating is: “You do the Math.” Math? It’s MATHS in capital letters.

Okay, you do the math. So you do the math is like you work it out, okay. So let’s see. I’ll think of an example. You do the Math ..okay, so let’s say you are speculating on something so you’d say something like Kate Middleton is in hospital and William is being talking about buying baby clothes. You do the maths.

That means you work it out, meaning, I think that Kate’s pregnant. You do the maths - meaning if you look at the evidence, Kate Middleton is in hospital and William is like buying baby cloths. You do the math and work it out. You work out. ‘Wow, Kate’s pregnant.’ The issue is that in America they say Mathfor mathematics and we say maths – with an s on it for mathematics.

Okay, mathematics. Math or maths, it’s pretty small thing. I mean maybe maths is correct because it’s plural. But it’s an abbreviation. So you don’t always pluralize abbreviations.

So math, I think it’s all right. It’s just again just two different ways to say something. Two different ways to abbreviate mathematics.

Grammar Man says:

Really, do we have to capitalize all the letters too or are you trying to compensate for something.

So that’s because Michael in his message capitalized the word math so M A T H S in capitel letters. So he is saying is that necessary or are you trying to compensate for something?

Okay, if you make something a lot bigger. you may be trying to compensate so

maybe if something that you have is small, you need to make something else big in order to compensate for the fact that you seem to have a lot of smallness going on in your life. That’s difficult to explain.

Well, let me give you another example. Let’s say a man has a small penis, okay, let’s say a man has a small penis and so in order to compensate for that – what he does is, he goes out and he buys a really big car, because he feels inadequate – feels soemhow not good enough, not big enough and so he buys a big car in order to compensate for it. So basically Grammar Man is suggesting that Michael by putting MATHS in big letters is trying to compensate the fact that he has a small penis. So basically, Grammar Man is saying

Michael Zealey in London: You’ve got a small penis, okay!

Number 37

I hate the fact I now have to order a “regular Americano“. What ever happened to a medium sized coffee? says Marcus Edwards in Hurst Green in London.

Is it in London? Marcus Edwards in Hurst Green, England. Now a regular Americano. Yeah, okay - it sounds like rather complicated language, just immediate coffee or small coffee, but the fact is you know, coffee is a bit complex. There are many different ways to serve it and prepare it and anAmericano is basically an expresso with water in it, isn’t it? It’s like a long coffee or maybe a filter coffee, I think. Could be that. So

Grammar Man says:

First, we take over your language. Then, we take over your coffee. (Although I hear the antipodeans are making a move on your coffee, too.)

antipodeans:aus Australien oder Neuseeland

So, he’s just making fun of Marcus saying: First we take your language then we take over your coffee. But that’s quite an interesting point that maybeMarcus’ complain is not necessarily about the language but about the fact that the culture is changing too and that we now order Americano coffeerather than just a black coffee. So maybe there is something in that. But it’s not just a question of language change, but general cultural change as well. How do people feel about it? Well they get a bit upset about it. Don’t make it. It’s all part of their way of life.

Number 38

My worst horror is expiration, as in “expiration date”. Whatever happened to expiry? said Christina in London.

Well, okay – expiration date or expiry date. You know if you buy something, let’s say you buy a yoghurt from the supermarket and on the top of the yoghurt there is a date. And that’s when you should eat the jogurt by. You should eat it before that date. So in the UK it’s called the expiring date and in America expiration date.

And well, again two words that mean the same thing. But expiry might be better because it’s slightly smaller. It’s slightly more efficient.

Grammar Man says:

I had never considered the latter word. I quite like it. And it’s shorter.

So here we go. He quite likes expiry.

Remember latter and former, when you got two options. The former is the first one, latter is the second one, okay?

Number 39

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 said James in Somerset.

So, James gets very upset about the fact that Americans do have like family from Scotland or Ireland call themselves ‘Scotch-Irish’ and apparently that’s not correct because Scotch is a kind of whiskey and that the correct word is Scots not Scotch. This is kind of common thing. People say that Scotch is the adjective of Scotish and apparently it is not. But I think in America if you have like family history from that part of the world and everyone in America who comes from Scotland or Ireland might call themselves Scotch-Irish. Can you not just let them chose the way they talk about their own culture.

Grammar Man says:

I never get between a Celt and his drink.

So he is saying that never get between a Celt and his drink because Celtic people are known for drinking a lot. So you should never get between - never get in the middle of a Celtic person when they drink because it’s just not gonna be a happy situation. All right!

Number 40

I am increasingly hearing the phrase “that’ll learn you”

That’ll learn you - that will learn you.

When the English (and more correct) version was always “that’ll teach you”. What a ridiculous phrase! says Tabitha in London.

That’ll learn you!

So, that will teach you. For example if someone – let’s say a child is doing something stupid and then fall over and hurt himself.

‘Aha, hurt and that’ll teach you. You shouldn’t climb on that. It’s dangerous, don’t do it. That’ll teach you’.

Apparently some people say: That will learn you. And sure it’s not strictly correct because something doesn’t learn you, you learn something, right? Something teaches you. But I think that will learn you is kind of part of usage in certain American dialects like maybe in the South. They might say: That’ll learn you.’ But most people don’t say that.

And Grammar Man says:

No self-respecting American with a high school diploma would ever say that, except in jest. So, they would only say as a joke. (Actually, that phraseology may reflect the standard convention in the Appalachian dialect, in which case it would indicate a systematic, and therefore regionally appropriate, use of the verb.)

So if – enough people in that region use it – then that kind of makes it allright. I suppose. That is what Grammar Man is saying. But most people don’t say it. It’s just something in a particular dialect.

Number 41

I really hate the phrase: “Where’s it at?” “Where’s it at?”

This is not more efficient or informative than “where is it?” It just sounds grotesque and is immensely irritating, says Adam in London.

Grammar Man says: You are absolutely right. This is one of the two Americanisms listed here - actually worthy of your scorn.The preposition at the end is unarguably superfluous. So superfluous means not necessary. Okay, so where is it at is not necessary to say ‘where is it?’ Fine. But you still hear that. It’s like ‘cool language’. Yeah the language of the kids. I don’t know why I am making a fool of myself but - where’s it at? Where is the party atmeaning where is the party? I suppose if you want to sound cool with your friends - if you are a teenager or something - no I am obviously making a fool of myself here because I am in my thierties. I have forgotten what it was like to be a teenager. But if you are a teenager you might not want to say to your friends: ‘Come on where is the party?’ you might want to say: ‘Where is the party at?’

If you are a teenager and you listen to this:’What would you say?’ You can send your emails to Luketeacher@hotmail.com or alternatively just leave a comment below this episode of the podcast and I’d love to hear from you, oh, yes.

Number 42

Period instead of full stop from Stuart Oliver in Sunderland.

Well a full stop is the dot at the end of a sentence. It just shows that the sentence is finished. Full stop. But in America , they call that a period. Fine! Two words – same thing. Full stop, the Americans say period. You might hear that like in movies. ‘You are off the case, you are off the case, Johnson, period.’ Meaning you are not the police officer that is gonna handle this case and that’s it. Full stop. okay.

Grammar Man says:

They’re just different terms for the same thing.


Number 43

My pet hate is “winningest“, used in the context “Michael Schumacher is the winningest driver of all time”. I can feel the rage rising even using it here. That’s Gayle in Nottingham.

So, she get really angry at the expression ‘winningest‘.

Okay, so the word winningest – well, you have the word to win, obviously it’s the verb. You win a contest, winning is – you know – if you say: ‘I am winning.’ Obviously that’s the present participle. So winning has become kind of abuzz word on the internet.

buzz word:Modewort

So if you are winning it means that generally you are sort of like being cool or doing something well. As opposed to failing. Failing is when you are doing something badly or doing something wrong, winning it means you doing it well you are having a good time, you are cool. You are ‘down with the kids’, yeah - winning, right?

So winning, Charlie Sheen, for example said winning a lot when he was on the internet having a mental breakdown

Winning, so it just means being successful, right? So winningest is now like a new superlative, adjective from the word winning. So it’s just the case of the language being – some people are just playing around with the language, changing it around just for their own enjoyment.

Grammar Man says:

If I were living in a country that could never use that term self-referentially, I would hate it, too.

So he is saying that when people say winningest they are doing it as an ironic self-referential thing. They know that they are doing it. So he is saying that …he is critisizing Britain saying that in Britan people can’t use a term in a self-referential manner. But that’s not really true, because British people love to be ironic about the language they use but basically Gayle in Nottingham: ‘Don’t get too upset about it just people playing around with language.

Number 44

My brother now uses the term “season” for a TV series. Hideous. That’s fromD Henderson in Edinburgh. Hideous!

Hideous means absolutely awful. Absolutely horrible. So using the word season for a TV series – hideous – but it’s not really hideous. Is it because like a TV series. A TV series is obviously like a set – a number of shows that are broadcast within a certain period. We call it a series in the UK whereas in America they call them seasons, you know. If you have seen the first season of Lost for example. But I don’t see what’s wrong with season, really because it – kind of – often these TV series from America. They are quite long. They might last for months in which case it’s approbriate to call it a season. It’s all right. It’s not hideous. It’s fine..

Grammar Man says:

A TV series can run for multiple seasons. Do you, or your brother, not realize that?

Number 45

Having an “issue” instead of a “problem” says John in Leicester.

So an issue or a problem. Well, there is a difference between the word issue and the word problem. First of all the word problem has a kind of negative feel to it. So what happens is people tend to avoid using the word problembecause they say don’t want to accentuate the negative. They want to keep it positive. So they say: We’ve got a couple of issues to deal with. It makes it sound more positive, and makes it sound less dramatic and it’s very common. At work, we talk about issues rather than problems just because it is more positive. So that’s really a case of subtle nuance. Subtle means like with very small details, differences and nuance means detail difference or slight difference. So there is a slight difference between saying there is an issue here and there is a problem here. Maybe you have an issue with the idea of like chosing to paint something in a positive light – maybe that seemed contrived but really it’s okay as a piece of usage because it’s clearly using a new ones –it’s expressing something in a slightly more nuanced way, isn’t it. What’s wrong with that?.

Grammar Man says:

Apparently, the Brits have an issue with nuance.

Very funny!


Number 46

Date: 2015-01-02; view: 1563

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So this is an example of the creative misuse of language. | I hear more and more people pronouncing the letter Z as “zee”. Not happy about it! said Ross in London.
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