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April 2001 - Damn Yankees

Now, I hope you're all sitting down for this exciting edition because if you're not, there's a good chance you'll fall down when you find out what wonderful subject I've chosen for this month's wonderful in-depth analysis.

As most of my regular devotees will be well aware, the Europeans have been known to come in for a little bit of stick in these Comments.

Thus far, however, I've managed to be fairly complimentary about our cousins from across the pond, the Americans. With the exception of the odd jibe about their necks only being that shape because of the weight of the cameras, I've been fairly nice to them.

This is all about to change as I launch myself at the entire American dynasty, or is it die nasty?

Now, I've been spending a bit of my time looking up the history of this particular species in the reference books. I gather to my surprise that they didn't start life over there as I'd suspected; but they went there some years ago by boat, from over here.

This, to my mind, puts a completely different slant on many of their habits.

I mean, if they'd all started life living in funny little pointed tents and having pow-wows with each other whilst smoking those horrible smelly pipes, you could understand why they are like they are; but they didn't.

The ones that live in the pointed tents are the lot that were there before the lot that are there now, if you follow my drift. The lot that are there now, arrived later.

The pointed tent lot, with the feathers on their heads are the true Americans. The ones that make the films, control the world's oil supply and take weeks to choose a president are the lot that went over on the boat from England.

Having read up on it and got myself sorted out, it makes me even more confused about why I spend so much of my time not understanding a word they say.

It's reasonable to assume that the feather headed brigade, having started off over there, are allowed to speak a foreign language as their native tongue. As they're all Americans, that language is, I can only assume, American.

The ones who went over on the boat from here took the English language with them, so there's little doubt what it is they speak.

Well, that WAS the theory. Trouble is, it doesn't just gently topple over; or fall over; it damn well collapses like one of those American suspension bridges in a gale.

If it's English that they are supposed to be speaking over there, how come none of them are capable of directing me along the pavement to somewhere where I can find a tap to wash the baby's nappy?

What I want to know is what on earth happened to them all as they crossed the Atlantic in that boat? Were they struck by a bolt of lightning or something and forgot half the language they were quite fluent in before they left?

They obviously had some of their words written down, like dynasty and tomato, but didn't have any pronunciation notes with them.

You WOULD think, however, that with all the subsequent traffic across the pond since that first journey, that some nice person from over here would have sent some notes on how to speak properly over to them.

Unless they have had the notes sent over, but they're just too thick to understand how to use them and correct all the inaccuracies in their language.

The only other possibility is that they specifically don't want us to understand them over here any more, and the language they use now is some sort of code to avoid us understanding the next moves they're going to make to control our North Sea oil.

I have to report, however, that this particular plan of theirs may not be completely successful.

Due to the large number of American programmes, or is it programs (see, they can't even spell properly) on television over here, we seem to be witnessing a strange form of reverse learning by our younger generation.

Having sent our pure and excellent English language over to America on that boat, only to have them modify it beyond all recognition, it seems to be coming back to us.

It all started when I began to notice some rather Americanised pronunciations coming back to us via our schoolchildren. I decided the time had come to investigate further.

If you take a couple of minutes out to enquire of them what a sidewalk is, they'll tell you instantly that it's the new word for what we used to call a pavement.

You can quiz them on all those other words which the Americans use to try to confuse us and they'll correctly translate every one for you. I reckon we're breeding a whole new generation of code crackers who'll save the entire British oil industry for us.

Imagine the confusion on the other side of the pond when they realise what our children are capable of.

You can just imagine all the high-ups in their secret meetings in the Pentagon, desperately trying to hurriedly compose a whole new language to replace their existing, useless code.

What they don't realise is that they have the answer right on their own doorstep, but they're too thick to even see it staring them in their faces.

If dear old George W and his tribe had popped off to one of those pointed tents, I'm sure the chappie in the feathers would have been only too pleased to teach them his original American language.

After all, if you don't read the subtitles, you haven't got a hope of understanding what those blokes say to each other whilst taking a drag on the great big pipe, have you?

Even when Broken Claw breaks into broken English it doesn't mean an awful lot to you and me does it? I mean, what exactly does "White man speak with forked tongue" mean anyway?

I've always assumed that the bloke with the feathers is accusing the bloke without the feathers of not speaking proper, original American. That's all I can make of it.

The only worry about George's boys all speaking original American is that they would all have had to forget how to do everything, so they could spend the whole time asking, like the ones in the pointed tents do.

In a sense, it's a pity it all didn't happen a few presidents ago. That one that came before George W's daddy would have found himself quite at home speaking original American.

Let's face it, whenever you asked old Ronnie a question, his only replies were "Ug", "Um" and "Er" in a weird sort of rotation anyway. Perhaps that was the problem and he thought he was still in pictures and talking to the men in the pointed tents all the time.

And, thinking about it, whenever he was asked about reducing the budget deficit, all he said was "How".

I reckon that might be the real answer. That Pentagon committee to replace the language has been going longer than we thought. It was our Ronnie who started it up, not George junior after all.

I wonder how long it'll take before we're speaking the new language over here anyway? If the current crop of Americanisms are anything to go by, we should pick it up pretty quick.

Well, if I can work out which of my many languages to write it in, I'll be back with another stupendous edition in May, so I hope to catch you then.

In the meantime, keep taking the elocution lessons. Right, I'm off, where's me dictionary?

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