Americanisms in the UK …. you do the math

Math vs Maths. One letter, but it almost defines two languages, and certainly immediately highlights which side of the Atlantic the speaker is placing themselves.

Interestingly, whilst most traditional British English speakers balk at the shortening of the word losing the “s”, there is a fairly valid argument for doing so. ┬áDaily Writing Tips have an excellent breakdown of it here, but the essence is that it still depends where you are from.

This is incredibly helpful to the state51 cause, since the word can be dropped in for casual use, yet makes a very clear statement about our language and “mental home country”, something that’s increasingly natural among the under 15’s where “math” is becoming as common as “maths”.

Nowhere is as forthcoming as “you do the math”. Picked up from many a film or TV show from the US, this is slowly but surely entering the British vernacular. Essentially meaning “it is obvious” (see Urban Dictionary for some examples in usage), it is an easily passed quip but with a deep intention and slow burning language changing effect.

Kudos to Channel 4, using this at the end of the voiceover after Hollyoaks on Thursday, bringing this both to a mainstream audience in prime time, and of a great demographic to spread onward use.

Whilst we aren’t yet aware of any UK schools or colleges referring to “math” on their timetables, how long they can resist the change, well, you do the math.

One Reply to “Americanisms in the UK …. you do the math”

  1. Well, we’ve had some impressive feedback following up on this post, and it seems we’re out of touch on the last point raised. Of special note is Salfords Primary School in Redhill, Surrey where it’s not only referred to, but the children are actively taught to use “math” in the singular. Keep spreading the word – it’s entirely possible with some work that this is the last generation to have to endure “maths”.

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