Geoffrey Wheatcroft

Do we give a hoot?

Should we give a hoot that our language has been corrupted – or just back off and call it a day?

‘There is room for a very interesting work,’ Gibbon observed in a footnote, ‘which should lay open the connection between the languages and manners of nations.’ The manners of the peoples of the United Kingdom and of the United States are very different, although not always in the way that received prejudices have it: any English visitor to America must be struck by how much politer most Americans are than the average run of his compatriots.

But The American Language, as H.L.

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