Wednesday, 18 August 2010

American English Terms

As an American, I always assumed I spoke English, but it turns out that in fact I speak American.  Every now and then, someone will be taken with surprise at something I say or write and it is then that I realise I'm not speaking English, exactly.  

For example, I emailed someone the other day saying "If I had my druthers...".  They wrote back seemingly charmed at having learned a new word (but I still didn't get my way).  Bill is forever pointing out each time I use the word 'gotten' that this isn't English anymore, though Bill Bryson says in Mother Tongue that this term - as well as using 'fall' for autumn - was used in England in Elizabethan times.  

The other day I happened across a word I'd not seen in a while:  lollygagging.  I remembered what it meant; I'm pretty sure I heard this often as a child.  Nevertheless, upon re-acquaintance it struck me as an odd word, familiar though it was.  As to the origin, the links I could find were uncertain except that it is old, having been around for at least 150 years or so.  

Must try this one out in an email sometime soon, just to see what sort of response I get.  What sentence would you come up with to use the word lollygag?



James said...

Remember when President Reagan used the word "keester", Most of the reporters had no idea what he meant.One of the great things about English is how it evolves , but I enjoy some of the out dated words and phrases as well.

Jo said...

I found that when moving from MN to OK. Used words they didn't understand, and also "talked funny" according to them.

Rick Stone said...

"Why do all these young people just lollygag around all the time?"

Struggler said...

I'm a great one for lollygagging when I should be cleaning the house!
What a wonderful word... almost as good as bumbershoot.

Toad said...

There have been several books published lately about "when Americans lost their British accent".

Appears that most of what we consider pure Britishisms, BBC english, came to the UK after the revolution. Until then we all spoke the same language