LINGUIST List 11.1622

Wed Jul 26 2000

Disc: Queen's English/American English

Editor for this issue: Karen Milligan <>


  1. Ronald Sheen, American English Influence on the Queen's English

Message 1: American English Influence on the Queen's English

Date: Mon, 24 Jul 2000 15:15:15 -0400
From: Ronald Sheen <Ronald_SheenUQTR.UQuebec.CA>
Subject: American English Influence on the Queen's English

Re: 11.1609, Sum: Teletubbies Language

Clauda Bubel reports that

>David Fertig pointedout that there are
>"semi-Britishisms that slip into the American version apparently unnoticed.
>The most obvious is when the American narrator asks: "Where have all the
>Teletubbies gone?", where an American would almost always say: "Where did
>all the Teletubbies go?" I've noticed several other examples that occur
>less frequently."

I doubt this. Over the last thirty years I have collected many examples
where North American English replaces the present perfect with the simple
past, as with the example given, (and published a couple of papers
thereon). This has tended to show that the two forms are in free variation
where British English usually uses the present perfect. Therefore, "Where
have all the Teletubbies gone?" and the other form are both quite normal
North American English.

Interestingly, recent data taken from British movies and TV show that
British English is now beginning to show signs of following North American
English and using the two forms in free variation in certain contexts. I
even heard one on the BBC World News last week.

"My God, Sir, what are things coming to when one of these upstart dialects
starts to influence the Queen's English?"

Ron Sheen U of Quebec in Trois Rivieres, Canada.
Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue