We’re still American, so it’s “math,” not “maths.”

Masses of math.

My dear fellow Americans, you can suddenly all decide to say “maths” instead of “math,” but you still won’t be British, and you’ll just sound like you’re choking as you really try to enunciate that last “s.” Maybe you’re not trying to sound British. Maybe you’re trying to show that you know there are many ways of doing numbers, you clever devil you. But then you’ve just shown that you’ve forgotten that “math” is considered a mass noun in American English, so you’re not really ahead.

Photo by Roman Mager on Unsplash

Also, the “t” is often silent. Jeez.

I don’t know if the British are doing this, but Americans have begun to commit an alarming hypercorrection on “often” over the past decade or two. Perhaps it’s because they think it makes them sound British. Americans, please note: in the word “often,” there’s no need to pronounce the “t” that’s lurking in there. That “t” is silent, just like the ones in “soften” and “listen” and “chasten” and “hasten.” So relax and just say “off’en.” Over-enunciating it will not make people think you are British or even Canadian, eh.

I believe this hyper-correction is a relatively new phenomenon (looking at you, NPR). In Middle America, where I grew up, the only people I knew who said “of-ten” also said “heighth.” (Actually, it was just that one girl.) Everyone else properly said “off’en,” and it rolled smoothly off’en the tongue.

It’s not a “one-off” unless you have a foundry.

Closely related to the above, I remind you, is the fact that “one-off” is really a technical term for a unique design, not for any old event that is so meaningless it’s only going to happen once. So just say, “It’s a one-time event.”

And not everything is happening “at the end of the day” so stop saying that it is. “At the end of the day you get nothing for nothing.” At first, I think Americans borrowed it to sound clever and British, and now they just sound tired.

And unless you are from Great Britain, you are not allowed to say, “Well done, you.” Instead, in the United States, you have to say, as all the coaches and teachers and managers and trophy-givers in the U.S. are required to say, “Good jo-o-o-o-ohb!” with the broadest of broad, toothy smiles. I’m sorry; that’s just the way it is if you’re American.

Yep. Still American.

So does it really matter that we assume these little affectations, these bits of verbiage and slang and rhetorical gesture to show that we are cosmopolitan?

Yes, it matters, because: a) We should not try to sound like someone we are not (which I am guilty of all the time, let me just hasten to say before someone beats me to it); and b) We should be working to save and salvage and strengthen and educate and clean up and settle down the America we still have, rather than trying to sound like we’re not from here.

Canada doesn’t want me, either.

I checked on their website.


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