According to a new analysis of children’s writing by Oxford University Press children are using much more American English in their writing. They carried out research using over 74,000 entries in a national radio station story writing competition.Children used words such as cupcake rather than fairycake and tuxedo instead of dinner jacket. It made me think about the Americanisms that have become common in the English language.
In schools we are used to the end of school party, once called the leavers’ disco or dance now referred to as the Prom.
There are many other examples and words such as trash, sidewalk and candy, once only heard in American TV dramas, are now just as likely as their English counterparts to feature in any conversation.
America was not the only influence on the use of English the study revealed.
Children did not use the term phone and certainly not telephone but Blackberry in the way that previous generations referred to hoovering rather than vacuuming the carpet.
Children used exclamation marks and lots of them, 351,731 occurrences to be precise, to emphasise their point and the use of other punctuation was either poorly or not applied.
What was of the most interest for me as a Headmistress of a girls’ school is that the majority of entries were from girls – two thirds in fact – and you may wonder why?
Is it because girls are more creative?
Do they read more than boys?
Perhaps the answer lies in the fact that the noun ‘school’ featured in the top ten for girls and did not feature at all for boys.
Girls do work hard and are diligent and therefore find school suits them well.
The most popular noun overall in the research is ‘door’ and we need to make sure our education system is not shutting the door on either gender and certainly at Portsmouth High School we open doors for girls to develop all their talents.