A while back, Mr. Scalzi wrote about The New York Times calling him a “pretentious git” because he described something using a well-known, U.K. phrase. You can read about it here on Mr. Scalzi’s blog. And here’s the offending article.
You should read the NYT article. The author (Mr. Alex Williams) even attacks the use of ‘cheers’. I use that all the time. I never thought it specific to Britain. I mean, New Zealander’s use it (of course, because, guess what, they speak English, too) and wasn’t there that American show popular in the 80’s and 90’s called Cheers? Wikipedia lists ‘cheers’ as a common, informal email valediction.
I just don’t see that word belonging only to Britons, so I was a bit surprised to see it included in the many British phrases that are filtering over the pond.
Here’s part of Mr. Scalzi’s response to the article:
I intend to enjoy as much of the English language as possible, and snack on other languages when it suits me. Because it’s fun and because language is meant to be used. Others do not approve? C’est la vie.
We all snack on each other’s language. Hell, I even take on the gait and lilt of my friends’ speech patterns. If you spend a lot of time with me, before you know it, you’ll hear phrases and speech patterns that sound eerily familiar. I’ve even lost a couple of budding friendships because of it. My new-found acquaintances thought I was making fun of them. I’m pretty sure one of ’em thought my speech mimicry was some bizarre mental illness. (Wait, maybe it is…)
Anyway, it is not like I’m great at it, but I do find myself doing it (I even passed for a New Zealander once!) and I’ve never thought anything of it. I even do it with my writing. I use the Canadian ‘eh’, the Spanish ‘no’, and the ubiquitous Californian ‘whatever’ with abandonment, and even mix-and-match to suit my mood.
Why on earth anyone would fault someone else for borrowing words and phrases from either another country or language is beyond me. We do it all the time, don’t we? Every day, every second of our lives, we do it. Isn’t that how we, well, learn language? Learn to communicate with each other?
Which is why I liked Mr. Scalzi’s statement: Language, English or not, is meant to be used.
Until later, snack on words til ya burst at the seams.