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Many thanks for the mongrel bitch

Some remarks were made in this venue about a specious BBC article by one Matthew Engel carping that supposed Americanisms are corrupting British English. Now, in true patriotic Amurrican fashion, lexicographer Grant Barrett has given the BBC a riposte.

“The mongrel bitch you gave us as a parting gift is getting along quite well,” he says. He is referring to what Mr. Engel called “the original version,” or British English. That is, Mr. Barrett says, “like calling one's firstborn "the original child."

The fun apart—and there is a fund of it in the article—you’ll want to check it out for clear, sensible, informed remarks on language and the tribe of peevers who imagine that their idiosyncratic preferences and superstitions are authoritative.


Posted by John McIntyre at 5:33 PM | | Comments (3)


I especially like his comment on both countries' languages being siblings, not a parent and child. Great link, yet again.

Thank you for sharing.

As I get older, I find that being a spectator in this sport has its benefits.

Ah, if they are siblings, that does indeed explain the carping.

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About John McIntyre
John McIntyre, mild-mannered editor for a great metropolitan newspaper, has fussed over writers’ work, to sporadic expressions of gratitude, for thirty years. He is The Sun’s night content production manager and former head of its copy desk. He also teaches editing at Loyola University Maryland. A former president of the American Copy Editors Society, a native of Kentucky, a graduate of Michigan State and Syracuse, and a moderate prescriptivist, he writes about language, journalism, and arbitrarily chosen topics. If you are inspired by a spirit of contradiction, comment on the posts or write to him at
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