British English being promulgated in New York



British Airways has started an advertising campaign in New York to help accustom Americans to British expressions before they arrive in the UK:

bq. On billboards and bus shelters across Manhattan, “Brit-speak” can be heard loud and clear. Next to one of the city’s busiest roads a huge billboard says: “This traffic is ‘bonkers’! In London, ‘bonkers’ means ‘crazy’.” On a bus shelter in Greenwich Village a poster reads: “Avoid ‘legging it’ by taking the bus. In London, ‘leg it’ means ‘to run quickly’.”

BA also has a ‘Brit-Speak Dictionary’ online.

(Via Onze Taal)

It’s all very well for British Airways to talk. But I remember when BOAC and BEA merged to form the new British Airways in 1973, there was a letter to the Times (that’s the Times of London for those across the pond, and in those days it was a respectable paper) consisting of only two words:

bq. British Airways?

5 thoughts on “British English being promulgated in New York

  1. Hello, I just saw your comments on the use of the Scots language by the Scottish parliament website (from last September), in which you said “I’ve classified this entry as ‘English language” but some of those linguistic buffs would not agree”.

    Well, you’re half right. What you saw there was actually a Scotticised English, rather than Scots. It’s akin to the mixed Frisian you might get in the Netherlands, or the mixed Danish-Norwegian of Norway.

    Whoever wrote the text for the parliament was clearly not a native Scots speaker as it lacked Scots grammer, vocabularly and idiom (a Scots speaker would say ‘Scots’ rather than ‘Scottish’ – an English word). Indeed, newspapers and others (mostly those opposed to the use of the language) were very critical.

    Anyway, I thought you might like to know more about the background.

    Dauvit Horsbroch

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