Americanisms have been slyly coloring the English language for centuries, and this practice must stop. Period.
Are we tired of hearing that fall is a season, sick of being offered fries and told about the latest movie? Yeah. Have we noticed the sly interpolation of Americanisms into our everyday speech? You betcha. And are we outraged? Hell, yes. But do we do anything? Too much hassle. Until now.
In That's The Way It Crumbles Matthew Engel presents a call to arms against the linguistic impoverishment that happens when one language dominates another. With dismay and wry amusement, he traces the American invasion of our language from the early days of the New World, via the influence of Edison, the dance hall and the talkies, right up to the Apple and Microsoft-dominated present day, and explores the fate of other languages trying to fend off linguistic takeover bids. It is not the Americans' fault, more the result of their talent for innovation and our own indifference.
He explains how America's cultural supremacy affects British gestures, celebrations and way of life, and how every paragraph and conversation includes words the British no longer even think of as Americanisms.
Part battle cry, part love song, part elegy, this book celebrates the strange, the banal, the precious and the endangered parts of our uncommon common language.
Matthew Engel is a journalist and author. He writes regularly for the Guardian and Financial Times, among other publications, and was the editor of the Wisden Cricketers' Almanack for twelve years. He is also a baseball enthusiast. His books include Eleven Minutes Late: A Train Journey to the Soul of Britain, Extracts from the Red Notebooks and Engel's England: Thirty-nine Counties, One Capital and One Man (Profile, 2014) .
Writing & Language