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The Supersessionist Drift of American English

The cultural dominion of American English as reflected in language use is well known. Native words in many languages of the world are habitually being replaced in ordinary speech (especially in media language) by items adapted from American English. Franglish has long been the bane of purist French speakers, and Japanese is increasingly being overwhelmed by English lexemes in their American forms (with the appropriate phonetic overlay). British English is no longer the default model for such adaptations.

Speaking of the British variant of English, it is noteworthy that the Americanization of Britain has affected language as well as other aspects of culture. When one listens to the BBC World Service, for instance, one regularly hears the use of truck instead of lorry (which has practically disappeared from the speech of English presenters), and even the noun patent pronounced to rhyme with latent has all but disappeared under pressure to conform to the American pronunciation. Apropos, it should be noted that for purist native speakers of American English the adjectival form retains the traditional British phonetic form.

MICHAEL SHAPIRO

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