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Changing Faces of English: It's Awesome, Really!

London

'Marvellous', 'cheerio' and 'pussy cat' are among words fast disappearing from spoken English in Britain, according to a new study which attributed the change to a growing influence of American English on British speakers.

Britons are using more American words because of the digital revolution and a growing influence of the US, said researchers who found that the word 'marvellous' owes its declining popularity to the American cliche 'awesome'.

'Awesome' now appears 72 times per million words, according to the study by Lancaster University and the Cambridge University Press.

'Marvellous' was once twice as popular, being used 155 times per million words 20 years ago, but its usage has declined to only two times per million, the Times reported.

"The rise of 'awesome' seems to provide evidence of American English's influence on British speakers," said researcher Tony McEnery, from Lancaster University.

Other words that have risen in popularity since the 1990s include 'essentially', which has come to be used where people would previously have used 'really', and 'treadmill', a reflection of the increase in gym usage.

When people spoke of cats in the 1990s, they called them 'pussy cats' almost half of the time. In the 2010s, the modifier 'pussy' is usually dropped.

According to 'mirror.co.uk', since the 1990s 'fortnight' has been replaced by 'two weeks', 'cheerio' is only used by older people and 'marmalade' has gone from the list of the 10 most used words.

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PLACES: BritainUSA
TAGS: LanguagesEnglish
OUTLOOK 26 August, 2014
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