Americanisms


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Americanisms

 

lexical, phonetic, and grammatical peculiarities of the English language in the USA which represent comparatively few deviations from the British literary norm.

Some Americanisms are words that have arisen in the USA and have not been popularized in England. This group includes names of plants and animals found in North America, such as moose (North American elk); names of various phenomena connected with the state and political system of the USA, such as Dixiecrat (Democrat from a southern state); and words associated with the American way of life, such as drugstore (apothecary and snack bar). Another group comprises words that are used both in England and in the USA. The specifically American definition of a word in this group is only one of its inherent meanings, such as market (grocery store) and career (profession). The word faculty is used in England to mean department and in America to mean professorial and teaching staff. The noun pavement means sidewalk to an Englishman but means roadway to an American. Another category of Americanisms consists of words that have turned into archaisms or regionalisms in England but are still widely used in the USA—for example, homely (ugly, unpleasant), fall (autumn), apartment (flat), tardy (late). The verb ride meaning to go on horseback is used more often in America than in England.

So-called slang expressions constitute another group of Americanisms. A considerable number of Americanisms fall into this category, and the work of many American authors is filled with such slang as gold-digger (an adventuress seeking a rich husband), sucker (a simpleton), go-getter (an enterprising smart dealer), blind date (a meeting with an unknown person), and hit the big spots (go on a spree).

Since the 1950’s an increased use of Americanisms in the speech of Englishmen has been noticeable. In the process of borrowing, several Americanisms have been subjected to reinterpretation. For example, the definition of caucus as a closed meeting of party leaders has changed in England to mean a policy of juggling the elections or pressure on the voters.

REFERENCES

Shveitser, A. D. Angliiskii iazyk v Amerike. Moscow, 1965.
Evans, B., and C. Evans. A Dictionary of Contemporary American Usage. New York, 1957.

A. D. SHVEITSER

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