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Old 09-13-2005, 01:03 AM   #1
Richard Waller
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Default Americanisms

Did! Didn't! Did to!
... couple things. (leaving out the of).
.. already .... at the end of a sentence

I have a nice feeling when I see these cute words. Are they common to all of the US or just certain areas. Already is a Jewish usage I know.

   
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Old 09-13-2005, 04:18 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Waller
Did! Didn't! Did to!
... couple things. (leaving out the of).
.. already .... at the end of a sentence

I have a nice feeling when I see these cute words. Are they common to all of the US or just certain areas. Already is a Jewish usage I know.
These expressions are common everywhere as a part of casual speech--so common, perhaps, they are becoming trite, and we might predict their demise. However, speech like this, I think, makes a person feel uniquely American and in a positive way--we enjoy being common folk. And, anyhow, we can rely on the British to preserve proper English. I think colloquialism are dying out--the world is getting too small (so I don't "redd up" the house any more). However, as hard as it might be to imagine, Americans are focusing on language even less and less, and where the new generation might be going with it, I don't even want to think about. Still, in general, I don't think their language usage will descend to the level of communications in the medical field. Yesterday, I read a press release from a large national hospital system on how they responded to Katrina--hmm, but I'm pretty sure they can do treatments fairly well.

One thing I've always wanted to discuss with a Brit some time is, their use of simple expressions regarding everyday life to represent complex ideas in general regarding what living is all about. It seems to be a part of the culture. It was so evident in the music of the British Invasion--"Do you want to know a secret," "Mrs. Brown you've got a lovely daughter." I wonder, however, as an American, how well do I really understand it.

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Old 09-13-2005, 05:45 AM   #3
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"Do you want to know a secret,"
"Mrs. Brown you've got a lovely daughter."

I think these both come from popular music-hall songs, and their beauty is that they say simple things in delightful words.

Urban slang is more complex to understand - there are a rash of books on the shelves, most of which I have acquired, that try to explain these. What I do first is to key a mystery phrase into Google and normally Wikipedia suggests something.

   
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Old 09-13-2005, 07:24 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Waller
Did! Didn't! Did to!
... couple things. (leaving out the of).
.. already .... at the end of a sentence

I have a nice feeling when I see these cute words. Are they common to all of the US or just certain areas. Already is a Jewish usage I know.
Leaving out the of in couple things is just casual speech — I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen it in print (outside of dialogue).

What is shocking is that we do see should of in print. Poor have — one of the most important verbs in English, losing out to a pathetic preposition!

You’re right about already — a lot of Yiddish English features inverted sentences, but I think already at the end of a sentence caught on because people liked the sound of it. It is now very common in New York, no matter what ethnic background you have (or how far back). All right already! is a very common way of giving up (crying uncle).

Now tell me: Why do the English say someone is “in hospital”? We say “in the hospital” here.

   
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Old 09-13-2005, 07:49 AM   #5
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KT:

Why do the English say someone is “in hospital”? We say “in the hospital” here

Do you? Then we'll probably say it soon too: for some reason we pick up Americanisms as fast as we catch colds. We've long said 'we don't have', instead of 'haven't got' (which was puzzling to Americans); that's pure idiom, because grammatically it's simply 'haven't'; and although we've been saying 'railway station' for about 150 years, we now say (and write in the papers) 'train station', which though not universal in America (what is?), is a common Americanism.

To come back to your question: I don't know, but does there have to be a reason? And to muddy the waters, I would point out that 'in the hospital' is a Germanism ('im Spital'); 'already' is also a Germanism ('ich komme schon'), not confined to Yiddish, but any German or Yiddish speaker would translate it literally when introduced to English.

   
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Old 09-13-2005, 09:06 AM   #6
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Quote:
We say “in the hospital” here
You do? Isn't 'hospitalized' more common? But perhaps that has a subtly different meaning. In any case, I wouldn't think twice about 'in the hospital' or even 'train station', but that may be my Scottish upbringing. I have a feeling Scottish is closer to American in many respects, which is not surprising, of course, given the number of scots who emigrated to the US.

There's one Americanism I can't get used to, and that is 'momentarily'. As in 'the doctor will be with you momentarily'. Like is he going to just stick his head round the door and run away again? <g>

   
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Old 09-13-2005, 10:19 AM   #7
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Ian:

or even 'train station'

If you think back, no one said 'railway station' either: it was always 'the station', unless the town had several. A bus station was always called that though, being anything up to a hundred years more recent.

   
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Old 09-13-2005, 10:31 AM   #8
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. . . As in 'the doctor will be with you momentarily'. Like is he going to just stick his head round the door and run away again? <g>

Yep, that's usually how it goes her in America <g>!

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Old 09-13-2005, 11:36 AM   #9
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Surely "in the hospital" means a specific hospital - meaning the one that everyone knows is the one. "in hospital" says generally he is really poorly and has been taken away to some healing place unspecified.

   
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Old 09-13-2005, 11:58 AM   #10
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And why "in Suchandsuch Street" vs. "on SuchandSuch Street"?

I don't think I've ever heard anything but the latter and thought the former was strictly British English usage until I ran across it in a few Damon Runyon stories from the '30s

   
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