Alex Williams must be on the verge of clapping both hands over his ears, going by his lengthy complaint about American use of Britishisms in the New York Times:
MITT ROMNEY is not the “bumbling toff” he’s made out to be, wrote Daniel Gross, an American journalist, in a recent Daily Beast article. The latest iPad is a “lovely piece of kit,” in the words of John Scalzi, an American science-fiction author writing in his blog, Whatever. The Chicago Bulls were mired in uncertainty less than a “fortnight” after their star player Derrick Rose went down with a knee injury, according to an article in The Daily Herald, a suburban Chicago newspaper, last spring.
Crikey, Britishisms are everywhere. Call it Anglocreep. Call it annoying.
Call it traditional. If a 19th-century American could afford to own two books, they most likely were the works of Shakespeare and the King James Bible. The way things are said in England is assumed to be high culture and worthy of imitation – a bias that holds true even if the speaker is Liza Doolittle or Ringo Starr.
Also, as James Nicoll says, English is the language that rifles others’ pockets for vocabulary. The American branch of the family has maintained the habit and sometimes the English branch is its prey. Nor are these newfound idioms taken to be locked a vault, they’re to be used.
The article’s citation of John Scalzi reminds those of us in the science fiction field that no one surpasses our admiration for English as it is used by the English. Start with the 25 Best Fan Writer Hugos won by Brits. Then proceed to the long list of fiction Hugos voted to them: Eric Frank Russell, Arthur C. Clarke, Brian W. Aldiss, John Brunner, J. K. Rowling, David Langford, Susanna Clarke, Charles Stross, Ian McDonald, and China Miéville. (Possibly even Jo Walton — surely no less British than Henry V?)
[Thanks to David Klaus for the story.]