BBC journalist Matthew Engel has written about how American words and phrases continue to pour into British common usage. Some intrusions he doesn’t mind; others, though, are fighting words, such as hospitalize and outage.
Engel invites his readers to comment. Sometimes, a British friend sticks up for us, as the one who reminds us that “oftentimes” was used by Banquo in Shakespeare’s Macbeth. Others note that British English has its own ugly words and turns of phrase. And some say that much from the list is not strictly or even necessarily American usage; some is, in fact, old British use or even just bad grammar common to both countries (or, perhaps, it’s Business English, a mess unto itself).
The only British usage that I can recall making any sort of foothold here recently is snogging (kissing), which came from the Harry Potter books. It’s a terribly unlovely word, and I’m glad it seems to have largely disappeared again.
It’s all quite entertaining and points to the frequent observation that the United States and Great Britain are separated by a common language. It should serve, too, as a reminder that any collection of sounds can stand for any real-world object or occurrence so long as there’s agreement on it. “That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” Where would any good English be without Shakespeare?