I nearly uttered the phrase beloved by Americans, and consciously I had to stop it forming on my lips;”“latte to go please”, from the assistant (or should that be barista) in Starbucks the other day.
Located opposite the Globe Theatre, with good service, clean toilets (unless the English language students haven’t been there first) and boasting one of the best views in London from its ‘al fresco’ tables, there I’ve said more drivel.
[A]ll the time these inane phrases are replacing perfectly adequate English. One you’ve heard and seen them enough they get into your brain circuits, just like songs they’re called ‘ear worms’, and remain in your memory and are impossible to remove.
I know our greatest gift to humanity is English and that its strength is it being an open language adapting itself to incorporate foreign words, but do we have to have these inane sayings?
I swear that if I reply to a group of American tourists with “Have a nice day”, I’ll commit Hari-Kari, God there it is again, another foreign phrase.
Or if I’m addressed by a passenger as “drive”, I’ll lose my cool, what am I, the tarmac connecting my garage with the road?
And if that’s not bad enough, when I listen to the bastion of the England language, the BBC it refers to measures as ‘litres’ or ‘metres’, leaving the rest of us to make a mental calculation into English equivalents.
When driving around London, and my passenger needs extra help do I ‘go the extra mile’ for him announcing “no worries, mate”? Note he is my passenger not my ‘fare’, for that’s what I charge.
Well, I’m off to grab a sandwich at Prêt a Manger, Catch you later!
2 thoughts on “Drivel to go”
Language changes. We no longer speak like Shakespeare or Chaucer or the Anglo-Saxons. To try to prevent linguistic change is to play at Canute turning back the tide. Nor would it be advisable: the language that ceases to evolve, dies.
People like linguistic changes: they like being able to say “mobile phone” and “laptop”. They like the little words and phrases that mark them as part of an in-group. Linguistic changes are good: without them we would become inarticulate in a changing world.
Inevitably, we don’t like some changes. These offend us because we find them inelegant, illogical, uncouth. Get over it: your objections will be ignored just as the tide ignored Canute.
And rightly so, because the language does not belong to you or to me or to the newsagent on the corner. It belongs to all of us and has to serve all our needs. A language that changes is a language that is alive and vigorous. The only thing we have to fear is inarticulacy.
Will American English take over the other Englishes? Probably not. Will the English language diverge into distinct languages just as Latin turned into French, Spanish, Italian, and other languages? Again I hope not.
But who knows? Only time can tell, but in the meantime, let’s celebrate the diversity of languages by learning words English has borrowed from some of the less-known languages: Hungarian, Hebrew, Nootka, Afrikaans, and Persian. Even though they’re not as well-known to most of us, they are still spoken by thousands or millions of people.
Just stop asking for your coffee “to go”. To go where?