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Re: typos

From: Paul Eggert
Subject: Re: typos
Date: Tue, 08 Aug 2006 09:57:32 -0700
User-agent: Gnus/5.1008 (Gnus v5.10.8) Emacs/21.4 (gnu/linux)

Bruno Haible <address@hidden> writes:

> The American monoculture in cinemas is crying for a counter-
> culture. Besides that, English is simply more beautiful than American.

Hee, hee, hee.

I can't resist again quoting H.L. Mencken, who wrote the classic work
on the subject.  I recommend his _The American Language_, to anyone
who wants to translate between the dialects.  You can get a free copy
of the 2nd edition (published December 1921) at
<http://www.bartleby.com/185/>; I have a printed copy of 4th edition,
published April 1936.

In his 4th edition Mencken does have something to say about his
attempts to distinguish between American and English:

  For each of the three earlier editions of this book I prepared a
  list of couplets showing variations between the everyday
  vocabularies of England and the United States, and in every instance
  that list had become archaic in some of its details before it could
  be got into print.  The English reviewers had a great deal of sport
  demonstrating that a number of my Americanisms were really in wide
  use in England, but all they proved, save in a few cases of
  undeniable blundering, was that the exotic had at last become
  familiar.  Others undertook to show that some term I had listed was
  not only accepted current English, but also discoverable in the
  works of Shakespeare, of Chaucer, or even of King Alfred, but as a
  rule the most they could actually prove was that it had been good
  English once, but had fallen out of currency, and had then been
  taken back from the United States, where it had survived all the
  while.  From those reviews I learned that opinions often differ as
  to whether a given word or phrase is in general use.  Sometimes, two
  reviewers would differ sharply over a specimen, one arguing that
  every Englishman knew it and used it, and the other maintaining that
  it was employed only by traitorous vulgarians under the spell of the
  American movies.

That last line is a classic!  I wish we had more like Mencken
nowadays.  (And you get extra points if you can prove that the above
passage is written in American rather than English.  :-)

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