Thursday, September 10, 2015

English American English

An English attempt “to do an advertisement in the American manner.” From the London publication Autocar, February 4, 1922:

Say, bud, jest haow do you calculate to buy an automobile? Do you act pensive after you’ve bought, or do you let a few facts form fours on your grey matter before you per-mit the local car agent to take a hack at your bank balance?

F’rinstance, what horse-power class do you aim to get into? Will your pocket bear a 20 h.p., and, if not, will a 10 h.p. bear your family? That’s the first problem, and the best way to answer it is to think what old friend Solomon would have done and cut th’ trouble in half by making your car an 11.9 — safe both ways up.

Wal, after you’ve laid out your cash an’ folded its arms on its little chest, there are just two people who are liable to hold you up for ransom; the tax-collector and and th’ polisman. Per-sonally, I give a polisman just nuthin’ and a tax-collector as little as George and Mary will let me. If I’m in the 11.9 h.p. class I can send the kids to school with th’ tax balance? Get me?

H. L. Mencken, The American Language: An Inquiry into the Development of English in the United States , 4th ed. (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1936).
Mencken adds: “Colloquial English is just as unfathomable to most Americans as colloquial American is to Englishmen.”

Also from The American Language
The American v. the Englishman : B.V.D. : “[N]o faculty so weak as the English faculty” : Playing policy : “There are words enough already” : The -thon , dancing and walking : The verb to contact

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