I've just run across an entertaining essay in The New Yorker: The Book Bench: Original English. Here's an excerpt:
As an English person living in New York, I find myself in the odd position of frequently receiving compliments for the simple feat of having a voice.
Because of my exotic accent, with its lingering vowels and well-behaved consonants, I tend to be mistaken for someone far more witty, widely read, intelligent, and authoritative than I really am.
This state of affairs suits me fine—I’m all for it. “Don’t lose that accent, honey,” I am often counseled by hyper-friendly barmaids and call center operatives, and I assure them I won’t.
The American accent has had less success in England, and judging by a recent and much-read piece in the BBC Magazine—Matthew Engel’s “Why do some Americanisms irritate people?”—the same could be said for American idiom.
Engel’s article lists several Americanisms the author finds “lazy and pointless”—”faze,” “wrench,” and “rookies” among them—and concludes with a puzzling plea to maintain “the integrity of our own gloriously nuanced, subtle and supple version—the original version—of the English language,” by which he presumably does not mean the West Germanic dialect spoken by the settlers who came to England in the fifth and sixth centuries.
The idea that there is such a thing as “the original version” of English is wrongheaded, as is the failure to recognize that the nuance and suppleness that Engels so treasures is the direct result of the language’s multifarious appropriations. English is sedimentary: on top of the Anglo-Saxon base was laid the French dialect of Norman conquerors, to which was then added the Latin coinages of Renaissance humanists.
And much as I like this essay, I must point out the subject-verb agreement problem in the last clause. It should be: "...to which WERE then added the Latin coinages of Renaissance humanists." Proofreading at The New Yorker is not what it once was.