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War of words: The rivalry between American and British English




Soldiers fighting in the Battle of Bennington during the American War of Independence.
Soldiers fighting in the Battle of Bennington during the American War of Independence.
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

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For Americans, the British accent can sound either sexy or snobby. To the British, Americans are ruining the English language. Why the love-hate relationship?

One linguist has set out to unravel this sibling rivalry. Why the widespread British phobia of American words? How’d Americans even get from centre to center? And what keeps driving us further apart?

Professor Lynne Murphy, a New York native who now resides in England, details her observations on the English language in her new book, “The Prodigal Tongue: The Love-Hate Relationship Between American and British English.” She’s used her longtime alter ego, Lynneguist, to blog about our intriguing separation by a common language.

Murphy speaks with Larry Mantle about her most amusing and insightful findings. Call us to weigh in with your questions and comments at 866-893-5722.

Guest:

Lynne Murphy, linguistics professor at the University of Sussex in England and author of the book, “The Prodigal Tongue: The Love-Hate Relationship Between American and British English” (Penguin Random House, 2018); she is also author of the blog, “Separated by a Common Language”; she tweets @lynneguist