Blog Profile / Separated by a Common Language

Filed Under:Academics / Linguistics
Posts on Regator:180
Posts / Week:0.4
Archived Since:February 24, 2008

Blog Post Archive

optional commas

I was tweet-talking with Lane Greene this morning about whether Americans' love for/Britons' indifference to optional commas can be quantified. And so I did a little experiment. And so I'm going to tell you about it.For this I'm comparing the British National Corpus and the Corpus of Contemporary American English. Show More Summary


It's the last morning of my (BrE) holiday/(AmE) vacation—off to the airport in less than two hours. But Will W just pre-wrote for me most of a blog post, so I'm going to take advantage and get another post up before I land back in work...Show More Summary


Will Fitzgerald has asked me more than once to cover British use of the adjective sorted. It has made an appearance on the blog before, as part of an Untranslatable October. But that short bit on it does not really give it its due. In...Show More Summary

thank you very/so much

Last week at Corpus Linguistics 2017, Rachele De Felice and I presented our research on thanking in US and UK corporate emails. We'll be writing that up for publication in the coming months. In the meantime, here's a tiny aspect of what...Show More Summary

"the" Americanization of English?

from the Guardian Today the Guardian reported on a new study by Bruno Gonçalves, Lucía Loureiro-Porto, José J. Ramasco, David Sánchez (you can get the pdf here) entitled The End of Empire: the Americanization of English. There are interesting...Show More Summary

(to) each (to) their own

Today's post, I'm happy to say, is a guest post by Maddy Argy, an A-level student who's doing (BrE) work experience with me at the University of Sussex. I've asked her to find American-British differences that she could research and have introduced her to some of the tools we linguists use. Show More Summary

Review: That's the way it crumbles, by M. Engel

Those who follow the blog may remember that in February I was on BBC Radio 4's Word of Mouth, where fellow guest Matthew Engel and I debated the effect of American English on British English. Engel had written many newspaper columnsShow More Summary

Barbados & the Caribbean

The scene behind the KFC near my Barbadian hotelis rather unlike the scene behind the KFC near my Brighton home As I mentioned in the last post, and as I have been wont to mention at any opportunity, I got to go to Barbados recently....Show More Summary

Review: Word by Word: The Secret Life of Dictionaries by Kory Stamper

I'm just back from a FABULOUS time at the Dictionary Society of North America conference. Fabulous not just because it was hosted by the University of the West Indies in Barbados (wheeeeee!), but because dictionary people are just the best people. Show More Summary

in/with hindsight

This was a recent Twitter Difference of the Day, and a conveniently simple thing to blog about during (BrE academic) marking season.I'd asked an American lexicographer to have a look at the chapter about (among other things) lexicography in my book manuscript. Show More Summary

squint, cross-eyed

If you have any interest in the doctor-patient relationship, I very much recommend Dariusz Galasi?ski's blog. He writes thought-provokingly about various things that he and I have in common: being immigrant linguist patients or linguist immigrant patients or immigrant patient linguists. Show More Summary


We've been having some problems with people starting to (jocular Linguist English) peeve about unrelated topics in the comments section. This has upset some readers (and also me, but I'm hardened by 11 years of blogging). More importantly is against the comments policy, so I've had to resume being a police-y person about it. Show More Summary

submitting slavishly...

Lately, I've been super-aware of people saying that British English "slavishly" copies American English. Like this: the UK slavishly adopts Americanisms !! (from an email to me this week) “To be snooty about Americans, while slavishly...Show More Summary


This is one of those posts where I'm going to let someone else do most of the writing. I got this message from Justin a couple of weeks ago: I’m from Malaysia, where BrE dominates in schools but AmE is prominent in pop culture (so too CanE and AusE). Show More Summary

Is Americanization speeding up?

Today I got to hear myself on BBC Radio 4's Word of Mouth talking with host Michael Rosen and anti-Americanism-ist Matthew Engel. This is just a picture. Click HERE for the program(me)! Biggest regret: that I completely blanked on the fact that sidewalk is originally a British word. Show More Summary

poo, poop

As I mentioned in the last post, I was at the BBC (on) Monday recording a Word of Mouth episode with Man Who Cries "American English is ruining Britain" Matthew Engel. One of his examples of Americanisms taking over was people in the UK saying poop instead of poo. Show More Summary

hit and/or miss

I have a little file of things I've looked up and should blog about some day, and in it is you can see, BrE has hit and miss, but AmE is more hit or miss.But while that was mo(u)ldering away in my desktop folder, Lauren Gawne aka Superlinguo actually did something about it. Show More Summary


I've done posts on cream and milk and sugar-refining by-products and other kinds of sugar have come up in passing. Now it's flour's turn, thanks to encouragement from my friend Sandra.I'm just going to do it as a list: table.GeneratedTable...Show More Summary

2016 US-to-UK Word of the Year: gerrymander

In a year like this year, it's no surprise that most of the Word-of-the-Year nominations related to politics, either directly or indirectly (like the 2016 UK-to-US WotY). Several of my correspondents have been noticing Americanisms in British political talk and Britishisms in American political talk. Show More Summary

2016 UK-to-US Word of the Year: gutted

The day after the US election, it became clear to me that the UK-to-US Word of the Year would have to be the adjective gutted The verb to gut is, of course, common to both varieties of English, but in this case I'm talking about an adjectival use of gutted to refer to a feeling of disappointment or sadness that makes one feel utterly emptied. Show More Summary

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