For decades, Britain has seen Americanisms sneaking into its day-to-day language. If we’re not “cramming” for an important interview or exam, we’re “vegging out” in front of the TV.

However, it seems the tables are turning and Britishisms are now starting to crop up regularly in American vernacular. Of course, the internet is one integral factor in this development, as it’s easy to sit down and read an online copy of the Guardian while tucking into breakfast Stateside. Add to this the numerous popular British franchises successfully making the trip across the pond, including Harry Potter and Downton Abbey, and it’s no surprise Americans are speaking with a British twang.

The British are coming!

According to Alex Williams, writing for The New York Times, “Britishisms are everywhere”. He claims that previously seldom-heard words and phrases like “brilliant” and “cheers” are now cropping up regularly in American conversation. Mr Williams isn’t the only person to notice it either.

Ben Yagoda is a professor of journalism and English who writes the blog Not One-Off Britishisms, in which he explains the meanings of words and phrases Americans may have heard their Anglophile friends and colleagues using. Some terms people in the UK might be used to hearing every day are still pretty exotic in the States, like “cheers” and “brilliant”. For example, did you know that using the word “ginger” to describe red hair is still limited to British shores? From, “cock-up” to “knickers in a twist”, more British phrases than ever are slipping into American conversation.

Of course, it’s not only American and Britishisms that cross over. Australian vernacular also crops up regularly in both countries. In the UK, this could well be due to the popularity of Australian soaps. As a result, if someone invites us “to a barbie this arvo as the day’s a beaut”, we know to pick up some sausages and burgers to bring to theirs later and take advantage of the good weather.

However, there are some Aussie words that could cause confusion. For example, “bluey” has multiple definitions and may refer to anything from a red-head to a thick wool jacket.

Slang in translation

Thanks to the internet helping to expand the influence of popular culture in different nations, slang is no longer contained within one country’s shores. This is something that all good translators and interpreters have to keep in mind. Failure to do this will mean the work they produce is confusing and may even open them up for ridicule. Just look at Mitt Romney’s recent blunder, when he was asked on a Cuban-American radio show in Florida what his favourite local fruit was. Not being a Cuban native, how was the Republican presidential candidate to know that by saying he was a fan of papaya he had actually used the Cuban slang term for “vagina”?

At the same time as keeping up to date with the latest international slang terms infiltrating local dialect, translators and interpreters also have to be familiar with how different nationalities phrase things. Of course, translators only ever work into their mother tongue, but if they are British and producing a document for an American client, they must not mistakenly use any UK phrases that won’t translate.

There are terms that it’s easy to assume are used on both sides of the Atlantic, such as “fortnight” and “have a look”. However, a good translator producing a document for an American audience must know to use “two weeks” and “take a look” or risk the original message being lost in translation.

What examples have you come across of Britishisms that are becoming commonplace in American conversation?