Thursday, November 13, 2008


You all know I love America, especially now that Barack Obama is heading for the White House. Its music and movies and its poetry have had a huge influence on my life. But it does make me laugh when I'm in Sosta Coffee on Abington Street in Northampton and I hear a procession of people in clothing combinations obviously copied from Sunday newspaper fashion supplements saying, to the congenial Greek chappie behind the counter, "Can I get a Latte?" or "Can I get a mochachocachino and two blueberry muffins, buddy?" or "Can I get an hour on the internet?" Since when was "get" an adequate or even necessary substitute for the word "have"? Since when was it even accurate? Obviously he can get a Latte, he's in a coffee shop, not an aquarium.


l.c. said...

That's great. Not only do we shove our bad politics, business practices, and style on the rest of the world, but we top it of with our bad English. I don't know why the Anthropology classes call it "Globalization," because it's clearly "Americanization." If it were truly Globalization you'd think that America would be obtaining a higher level of cultural integrity and diversity. But no, we're just becoming more bland too.

Anonymous said...

Get = obtain. It sounds like your real objection is to using "can" in place of "may."

All This Trouble... said...

I'm greatly offended by the "Can vs. May" tradeoff.

And I think the use of "get" rather than "have", although permissible, isn't very proper.

Thank you, Mother. May I have another?

Bruce Hodder said...

I don't know why I don't like it really. Maybe because it makes people sound like they're imitating television programmes.