Why do we use Americanisms when we speak?

It seems that we can escape the USA, be it in the films and series we watch, the politics we follow or the trends they set. It is so deeply entrenched in us, that we often use Americanisms in our language without even knowing it.

A book released this year claims that Americanisms will have completely absorbed the English language by 2120. Prof. Rajend Mesthrie, Chair in Migration, Language and Social Change Linguistics at the University of Cape Town says that this is an old debate.

We need a fresh look at this issue. Historically, South Africa was tied to British English, but the truth is not even British English is tied to British English anymore.

Prof. Rajend Mesthrie, Chair in Migration, Language and Social Change Linguistics at UCT

The reason why people around the world tend to use more Americanisms when they speak is that the balance of power has shifted towards the USA, according to Mesthrie.

He says this has been happening since a more positive view of America started after the World War, but is solidified by new media.

Since the rise of Hollywood, television and movies, the American media and language promulgated in that media has proved much more attractive to citizenry of the world than British English.

Prof. Rajend Mesthrie, Chair in Migration, Language and Social Change Linguistics at UCT

Listen to the full interview below:


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