Category Archives: American speak

Overdosing Anglophiles

Downton Abbey has returned. Finally! It’s been a long time coming, and the first episode most definitely didn’t disappoint. However, it’s brought up some good laughs around here.

See, I read an interview with Michelle Dockery – Lady Mary to those in the know – in my new InStyle and something she said struck me as funny, given my group of Downton devotees. She basically said that, as a kid, she was a fan of American TV. Such a fan, in fact, that she started picking up expressions like ‘What-ev-er’ in an attempt to sound more American.

Funny, I was just noticing the exact opposite around here. Specifically, with my Texan friends. British-isms are cropping up more and more often in casual conversation. Now these are funny enough with an American accent and in the course of our casual conversations around here. But throw in a Texas accent and they’re downright comical. Take these:

  1. ‘Spot on.’ I’ve actually had someone agree with me using this expression. Really. With a thick drawl, no less. Honestly, it’s perfectly fine to just say OK.
  2. Overuse of the word ‘proper.’ As in ‘a proper cup of tea would be perfect right about now.’ This one makes me laugh. Even I would sound funny saying this one – and my Texas twang is pretty minimal. Or at least I think so. Come to think of it, does anyone really think they have an accent? Usually not.
  3. Using the word ‘mad’ to describe anything but anger. As in, ‘My kids’ habit of leaving dirty socks around drives me absolutely mad.’ I’m all for expanding your vocabulary, but on this side of the pond it’s much easier to understand if we just say, ‘My kid is driving me bat@#$% crazy!!’
  4. Throwing Britishisms into conversation here and there. Think ‘rubbish in the bin,’ ‘biscuits,’ and ‘solicitors.’ Instead of chunking it in the trash, eating cookies and greedy lawyers.

I could go on and on, really. But just hearing the few examples above reminds me of the absolute-best quote from one of my fave flicks, Gosford Park. In one scene, Bob Balaban is talking on the phone to Hollywood, trying to cast a popular actress in his latest British mystery film. His question regarding the actress: “Is she really British, or is she just affected?”

So, my fellow Downtonees, be mindful (another Brit word) – we’re just Texan cowboys here. No need to sound affected!

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Filed under American speak, Britishisms, Downton Abbey, Michelle Dockery