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BRITICISMS VERSUS AMERICANISMS

minds of the English precisians alternate feelings of disgust and indignation. Let it be premised, however, that it is not proposed to include ordinary slang in the present discussion. It must be admitted that too much slang is employed even in polite circles, not to mention the speech of those who make no pretense to refinement and culture. But one should not confuse vulgarisms with so-called Americanisms, just as one should not confuse vulgarisms with legitimate slang. The discriminating student distinguishes between ordinary slang and legitimate slang. The vulgar slang of the street is, of course, to be universally condemned and tabooed. Legitimate slang, on the contrary, performs an important function in the development of a living language. It is not to be inconsiderately ostracized, therefore, and put under the ban as the chief source of corruption of our vernacular, as certain of our purists, in their zeal without knowledge, tell us and attempt to maintain. It is idle for them in their self-appointed role of guardian of the pristine purity of the English tongue to endeavor to defend so unsound and so indefensible a thesis. For legitimate slang, far from being an unmitigated evil and a constant menace to the purity and propriety of our noble tongue, is standard English in the making, is idiom in the nascent state before it has attained to the dignity of correctness of usage. To change the figure, legitimate slang is the recruiting ground whence come the new and untried words which are to take the place in the vernacular, of the archaic and obsolete words, dropping out of the ranks. But it is aside from the main purpose of this paper to discuss the relation of slang to standard usage (cf. 'What is slang?' Popular Science Monthly, February, 1906), and hence this only in passing.

By an Americanism, as here used, is meant a word, phrase or idiom of the English tongue, in good standing, which has originated in America or is in use only on this side of the Atlantic. It will be seen, therefore, that all mere slang expressions, even though they be of American origin, are barred from the present consideration. In his dictionary of 'Americanisms' Bartlett gives a large collection, many of which the above limitation, of course, excludes.

Of reputed Americanisms, as one might surmise, there are several classes to be distinguished, without any very clearly defined line of demarcation separating them. One class includes a large number of phrases which had their origin in England and were transported thence to our shores by the first settlers who came from the mother country and established themselves in Virginia and Massachusetts. In the last analysis these locutions appear to be transplanted British provincialisms, not a few of which came over in the Mayflower. Some of our British critics who are not as familiar with the history of the English language as they might be do not hesitate to deliver an offhand opin-