Friday, 7 October 2011

English UK

Strange things are happening in the editing world. A friend has recently come up against her present editor changing every ‘on to’ to ‘onto’. Many years ago a copy editor would not allow ‘onto’ in any circumstance and replaced them all with ‘on to’.

Naworth Castle courtyard

It is rather like the 'in to' and 'into' argument. There is a difference. The window was open so the cat climbed in to get his milk and fell into a bucket carelessly left there. I’m sure you can all see the difference.

Something my American friends are always correcting in my chapters is when I use 'different to'. They insist it should be 'different than.' Now, if enough people tell you a thing, you begin to believe it. So I looked up the grammar books and found that typical British usage is 'different to' when it introduces a clause and 'different from' when preceding a noun or pronoun. British usage doesn't include 'different than' at all.

I know it is unwise to generalise, and it is possible that all editors are not a) American or b)young twenty-somethings, (as if that is somehow a reason or an excuse, though I’ve it put forward as both!) but it is a shame that British English seems to be slowly caving in to American English. Why do British newspaper journalists and tv presenters think it is ‘cool’ to use the language of another culture? Why have I used the shorthand language ie ‘cool’, rather than think out a phrase that will describe what is meant by the slang phrase ‘cool’? Can it be that I am a) lazy or b)already indoctrinated?

Is grammar not taught in schools anymore? Have the teachers themselves got confused? Or is it the herd instinct, the reason that the less confidant follow the more confidant by adopting their style, their way of speaking? Food for thought, I think.

5 comments:

Anita Davison said...

I agree Jen and have come up with similar contradictions. One being the insertion of 'and' before 'then' and I hate 'bored of' when I was raised to say 'bored with'.

neblessclem said...

Thanks for some-one who thinks as I do and has a respect for the English language.
I have a great dislike for what I call 'americanisms'. I hate for instance, the prevalence of 'absolutely', now used throughout our land instead of 'yes'. It really rankles, as does '24/7', 'I know where you are coming from', 'it ticks all the boxes', and many more.
Getting old? Certainly. I'm 'cemetery side of 60'. Still I'm young at heart. Off for my latest lesson in textspeak - a universal language full of colourful imagery and nuances.
Have a nice day!

Jen Black said...

Good to know I'm not alone! (Though I have to confess I have been known to say Absolutely instead of Yes. I only use it when I really want to emphasise the Yes - hope that makes a difference!

Jen Black said...

Bored of is so ugly, isn't it? Makes me shudder. Good to hear from you Anita!

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