Queue

I am pleased to discover that, after generations of one-way traffic, some small elements of British English are now making a creeping entrance into American English.

President Obama seems less immune than most. He spoke last week of Britain going to the back of the queue in trade negotiations if it left the EU. Queue is not a word often heard in American mouths (they prefer the more prosaic ‘line’); and it was put about that Obama used the word to ingratiate himself with the British electorate. But it turns out he has form with the word queue, having used it several times in off-the-cuff situations which had nothing to do with Britain. He is also on the record using such items as full-stop, run to ground and take a decision (as I read in the somewhat niche blog Not One-Off Britishisms, devoted to exemplae of British English in American mouths).

And while that might seem to be more ‘evidence’ of Obama’s Kenyan (hence British colonial) background – evidence useful both to those who like to think he is not American, to to those (like the Mayor of London) who like to think that he is anti-British – it is more likely an indication that the flow of globalised media is omnidirectional: if Americans watch Downton Abbey and Top Gear for long enough, they will sooner or later start to naturalise otherwise exotic Britishisms (and sound in the process like Jeremy Clarkson snogging the Duchess of Devonshire).

No doubt eradicating such perversions is what Donald Trump has in mind when he talks of making America great again.

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