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H.L. Mencken (1880–1956). The American Language. 1921.

Page 159

such neologisms, and always use them when they get home—often, as we shall see, inaccurately. Dickens was the first of these visitors to carry back that sort of cargo; according to Bishop Coxe 4 he gave currency in England, in his “American Notes,” to reliable, influential, talented and lengthy. Bristed, writing in 1855, said that talented was already firmly fixed in the English vocabulary by that time. All four words are in the Concise Oxford Dictionary, and only lengthy is noted as “originally an Americanism.” Cassell lists them without any remark at all; they have been thoroughly assimilated. Finally, there is the influence of American plays and moving pictures. Hundreds of American films are shown in England every week, and the American words and phrases appearing in their titles, sub-titles and other explanatory legends thus become familiar to the English. “The patron of the picture palace,” says W. G. Faulkner, in an article in the London Daily Mail, “learns to think of his railway station as a depot; he has alternatives to one of our newest words, hooligan, in hoodlum and tough; he watches a dive, which is a thieves’ kitchen or a room in which bad characters meet, and whether the villain talks of dough or sugar he knows it is money to which he is referring. The musical ring of the word tramp gives way to the stodgy hobo or dead-beat. It may be that the plot reveals an attempt to deceive some simple-minded person. If it does, the innocent one is spoken of as a sucker, a come-on, a boob, or a lobster if he is stupid in the bargain.”
  Mr. Faulkner goes on to say that a great many other Americanisms are constantly employed by Englishmen “who have not been affected by the avalanche… which has come upon us through the picture palace.” “Thus today,” he says, “we hear people speak of the fall of the year, a stunt they have in hand, their desire to boost a particular business, a peach when they mean a pretty girl, a scab— a common term among strikers—the glad-eye, junk when they mean worthless material, their efforts to make good, the elevator in the hotel or office, the boss or manager, the crook or swindler; and they will tell you that they have the goods—that is, they possess the requisite qualities for a given position.” The venerable Frederic Harrison,