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

Page 165

reckon, … and here you are, my word!” C. J. Cutcliffe Hyne, in depicting a former American naval officer, makes him speak of saloon-corner men (corner-loafers?). E. W. Hornung, in one of his “Raffles” stories, introduces an American prize-fighter who goes to London and regales the populace with such things as these: “Blamed if our Bowery boys ain’t cock-angels to scum like this …. By the holy tinker! … Blight and blister him! … I guess I’ll punch his face into a jam pudding …. Say, sonny, I like you a lot, but I sha’n’t like you if you’re not a good boy.” The American use of way and away seems to have daunted many of the authors quoted by Mr. Bicknell; several of them agree on forms that are certainly never heard in the United States. Thus H. B. Marriott Watson makes an American character say: “You ought to have done business with me away in Chicago,” and Walter Frith makes another say: “He has gone way off to Holborn,” “I stroll a block or two way down the Strand,” “I’ll drive him way down home by easy stages,” and “He can pack his grip and be way off home.”
  Various other American critics have noted similar and even worse solecisms in the current English novels, and one of them, Miss Anna Branson Hillyard, once offered publicly in the Athenæum 16 to undertake the revision of English manuscripts for “fees carefully and inversely scaled by the consultant’s importance.” Miss Hillyard, in this article, cited a curious misunderstanding of American by the late Rupert Brooke. When Brooke was in the United States he sent a letter to the Westminster Gazette containing the phrase “You bet your—.” The editor, unable to make anything of it, inserted the word boots in place of the dash. Brooke thereupon wrote a letter to a friend, Edward Marsh, complaining of this mauling of his Americanism, and Marsh afterward printed it in his memoir of the poet. Miss Hillyard says that she was long puzzled by this alleged Americanism, and wondered where Brooke had picked it up. Finally, “light dawned by way of a comic cartoon. It was the classic phrase, you betcha (accent heavily on the bet) which Brooke was spelling conventionally!” And, as Miss Hillyard shows, incorrectly, as usual, for you betcha is not a collision form of “you bet your” but a collision form of “you bet you”—an imitative second