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

Page 24

paper 42 presumed to criticise the Americanisms in American advertisements, the editor of the Indianapolis Star replied with a vigorous denunciation of current Briticisms. “In British fiction,” he said, “with the omission of a few writers rated as first class, badly constructed and even ungrammatical sentences are by no means uncommon, and even the books of the ‘big’ authors are not immune from criticism. As for slang, certain colloquialisms and peculiarities of English speech appear so frequently in even the pages of Wells and Galsworthy as to be irritating. Right-o is an example; bloody and beastly, as applied to commonplace happenings, are others; the use of directly with a meaning quite unlike our usage, and many more of their kind, jump at American readers from the pages of English novels, and are there usually without intent of the writers to put color or accuracy into their delineations, but merely as a part of their ordinary vocabulary and with unconsciousness of any differences between their own and American usages.”
  Other Americans remain less resolute, for example, Vincent O’Sullivan, whose English schooling may account for his sensitiveness. In America, he says in the London New Witness, 43 “the English literary tradition is dying fast, and the spoken, and to a considerable extent, the written language is drawing farther and farther away from English as it is used in England.” He continues:
To most English people, many pages of the published sermons of Billy Sunday, the evangelist, would be almost as unintelligible as a Welsh newspaper. But is American at its present point of development a language or a lingo? Professor Brander Matthews does not hesitate to liken it to Elizabethan English for its figurative vigour. American figures, however, are generally on a low level. When Bacon calls floods great winding-sheets, he is more impressive than when the Pennsylvania Railroad announces that there is a wash-out down ‘round Harrisburg, Pa. It would, in fact, be impossible to express any grand or moving thought in American; humour, homely wisdom, yes; but not grandeur. Leaving aside the intellectual value of either, Bishop Latimer’s sermons are in the plain language of his time, and they easily maintain themselves on heights that Billy Sunday never gets a clutch on, even for a moment. It is a fair claim that American is more vivid than English.