What is it with the UK press and Americanisms?
At the back end of last year, more than 70,000 kids in the UK entered a short story competition launched by Radio 2’s Chris Evans.
The entries were brilliant. The kids made up words like “dog-bot” and “zaporator”. Genius.
We know this because the clever word folk at Oxford University Press analysed all the entries to get an insight into how young people are using this fantastic language of ours.
This is a fascinating piece of research – and it’s a real shame that all the press has zoned in on is that the kids also –gasp – used Americanisms. Like “cranky”, “sneakers” and “candy”.
Unstoppable rise of American English: Study shows young Britons copying US writing style is how the Daily Mail reports it.
The authors of the study were altogether more positive. They say: “Children are extremely inventive in their storytelling and language use, with many stories focusing on genetic experiments, espionage, and futuristic gadgets.”
So not text speak zombies then.
And why do we get so uptight about Americanisms? A lot of what we think of as Americanisms came from Britain in the first place anyway.
As our hero David Crystal says: “While there’s social change, you’re not going to stop language changing – and why would you want to?”
The big news, we think, is that 70,000 children entered a story writing competition with gusto and flair. And invented words like zaparator.