The Fall of #RichardArmitage

And some fans think I’m the one who picks apart his words!

My favorite Englishman in New York is taking some good natured ( I think it’s good natured) flack for using the word fall for that season that’s just around the corner – instead of the word autumn.

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Apparently some British fans think he’s a turncoat for describing the season of turning leaves in what they consider to be  American and not British.
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One fan even questioned whether he had really passed his O levels in English. (lightheartedly, I think)

I’m a New Yorker, hence an American, and I use the words interchangeably depending on the topic. Thus, the new television season is always the Fall Season ( can’t help it – it’s all over the press), and school always starts in the fall. When friends ask me when I’ll be back in NYC, I’ll be answering, this fall, yet, I always refer to autumn leaves and if you ask my favorite season, I would answer that it was autumn – especially autumn in New York. And when it comes to describing  a certain color palate, I frequently use the term autumnal  (orange, browns, rust, dark red, greens,gold).

So, I did a little research, and i mean, very little, and I came up with this link. The article says that the word fall was actually the original word used in England, and that it was only in the 18th century that the word autumn gained popularity in the UK, derived from a French word, but was used as early as the 15th century. It also claims that the term fall is becoming more popular in the UK – and here’s where they’re wrong – as they say, in connection with TV seasons ( right) and tourism in New York City ( wrong).

Just for the hell of it, I also disagree with one of the citations used in the article:

Sure, there are fall-colored M&Ms, but autumn candy otherwise looks unappealing. [Boston Globe]

images (11) HUH?images (12)

So, to my British fellow fans, take it easy. Let’s not make our Richard Armitage FALL on his sWORD over his alleged Americanisms. Anyway, chocolate is still his favourite flavour, he wants us all to empathise and he would probably prefer that I not over-analyse this. (My spell-check is really angry)

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So,to UK fans, (WARNING THIS IS A JOKE), I say, perhaps it’s more a generational thing than a national thing? Get with the new lingo;get with the new zip code – er postal code.

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42 thoughts on “The Fall of #RichardArmitage

  1. “Autumn Leaves” is the title of a jazz standard, I think — I seem to remember learning to play it at some point? I use “fall” when speaking in most situations but if I were trying to sound more elegant in speech or writing I’d say “autumn.”

    I usually don’t have any issue with US / UK code switching, but theater vs theatre — this is a killer. I try to spell all proper names as they are spelled in their original variant (“Old Vic Theatre,” but “Roundabout Theater Company”), but when I am writing my own prose I try to stick with the rules of U.S. English as I learned them in school. I try. I am sure I mix it up plenty.

    I find a lot of Britishisms creeping into my writing, though. Particularly the subject / verb agreement problem for collective nouns; I stumble over that one all the time. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Collective_noun#Metonymic_merging_of_grammatical_number

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    • I looked up Autumn Leaves, the song, because I wanted to include it, and I thought it was Irving Berlin. Turns out, it’s French. I was shocked because I consider it an American Classic. I’m pretty inconsistent about the collective nouns thing – I usually go with my ear, which isn’t always correct. I agree about the spelling of theater vs theatre. In the US, I think some venues use the British version intentionally, to make it even crazier.

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      • so I looked it up because you looked it up, and Johnny Mercer wrote the first English lyrics — that makes it kind of an American classic, too. At least the lyrics. Ella Fitzgerald made a point of recording his entire songbook. Although I confess to you that although I could hum the tune, I do not know the lyrics at all. So maybe not so classic. Argh. I am a philistine.

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          • I just looked up Mercer’s lyrics to the song and arguably the tune is way better than the words. However, at least two generations of Americans fell in love dancing to the works of Johnny Mercer, so … still a classic. (And my favorite fictional detective in American lit, Spenser, is a Mercer fan.) I *think* my connection to it was doing a piano improvisation jazz camp and that being the demo song we were supposed to start with. I think that’s when I learned it.

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      • The debate among theatrical-types about “theater” versus “theatre” rages pretty hard from time to time. The latest attempt settling it is to say that THEATRE = the art form and THEATER = the building. But some people will still have none of that. THEATRE = British. THEATER = American. I’m really sloppy about it, either way. I’m with Shakespeare: Spelling is fake. (joke. . . sort of!)

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  2. The ‘fall’-thing also momentarily threw me…”Huh”, I thought. What is an Englishman in New York doing when he writes ‘fall’ instead of ‘autumn’? He’s assimilating. Ha! My guess is he’s trying to tailor the message to the American viewers who are – sadly – apparently going to be the first watchers of Berlin Station.
    I’ve enjoyed reading the comments, and it seems you – Americans – are not entirely consistent either in terms of when you write/say one or the other. I’m actually rather pleased that I’m not the only one who sometimes has to think twice before stating ‘fall’ or ‘autumn’, ‘elevator’ or ‘lift’, ‘eraser’ or ‘rubber’ 😉 – and I also have a hard time with the subject-verb agreement for collective nouns. The marvels of the English language 🙂

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  3. I was taught, mostly by people who speak the words for a living not people who study linguistic history, that generally the more simple a word option, the older it is in English. Americans tend to use older, simpler words and colloquialisms (sayings) than the British do.

    This information could be entirely incorrect (wrong).

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    • I think it’s hard to generalize that fully. There are old English idioms still in common usage that are entirely absent from American English (anything to do with “bloody” as someone in the UK might use it today comes to mind, for instance) and American advertising and tech language has become highly complex and influential on the way we speak. Then you have the Latin / Romance vs German / Scandinavian word origin problem to explain as well. In other words: the answer to the question is overdetermined.

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  4. I’m English and can’t say I’ve noticed anyone other than Americsns using ‘Fall’ here rather than ‘Autumn’!

    However, ‘Movies’ does seem to have overtaken ‘Films’!

    Think RA may well have had a laugh with those Britons pulling his leg about Fall/Autumn!

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    • Here, films and movies are both used, except “films” is considered a little mor srty. On the other hand, the place you go to see a film or movie, we call a movie theater – or, we are going to the movies, whereas Brits say Cinema.

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  5. I have noticed that virtually all the theaters on Broadway call themselves “theatres.” The same thing is true of less exalted stage venues. I wonder if they do it to distinguish themselves from the movie “theaters.” I call those cinemas.

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      • I started to say it when it became confusing for my friends. If I say, “I am going to the theatre,” it’s ambiguous whether I mean a movie or a stage play. It works much better to make the distinction, and I use it in my writing too. Many of the movie theaters here call themselves cinemas, so although it may not be the most common usage among Americans, it is not “foreign.”

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  6. Fall/Autumn absolutely depends on the situation. Definitely fall for leaves, new tv season, sweaters. Autumn(al) for crisp air, decorations, vegetables, colors, and M+Ms. One further, harvest for comfort food. I actually like the spelling of theatre, just looks nicer to me. I would have to say that I watch so much Richard, and British tv and movies in general, that a more British way of speaking or writing seems to be creeping in.

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  7. Quite funny, had a good chuckle…

    Though, i am now frightened to write english (am./brit.?) as i am not a native speaker … Is it really so strictly handled (i mean, except the ‘rubber’ issue, which was luckily somehow already programmed somewhere deep in my brain)?

    I don’t envy RA, i would get frustrated seeing my each and every word dissected, but by now he might got used to it.

    (Please forgive me any mistakes in grammar, spelling or vocabulary…)

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  8. LOL! Before I read your essay, Your post title made me think that your post might be about people’s tending to use @RCArmitage in posting about him, more than the trending #RichardArmitage hashtag–with the hashtag feeding into the RA Daily paper and such., and it being less full these days because of people using @RCArmitage more than #RichardArmitage.

    And personally, I’m cool with people’s evolving word choices for every day words. We live in a global world–the internet exposes us to others and their cultures, traditions, languages, etc.–in addition to people traveling and living in different countries. I work at a university and we are blessedly like a United Nations–something like 120 different countries are represented among our faculty, staff, and students. It’s a wonderful comingling between us, and various turns of phrases get picked up by all of us–“yah, yah” for yes is one of them.

    And certainly within countries, there are dialectical differences for phrasing or word choice and pronunciations–coupon vs. “kewpon”, catty corner vs. kitty corner, ketchup vs catsup, etc. And phrasing uniqueness can be due to regional dialectic language patterns–such as more Southern U.S. “I’m fixing to ride my bike,” rather than a more Northern U.S. phrasing of “I’m going to ride my bike.”

    So I don’t see the need for chastising someone for their language choice–as if they were losing their “Britishness” by calling a season Fall rather than Autumn. Language is unique and always evolving. Live and let live, is my view.

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    • LOL – I didn’t see the need either – but I think it was all in fun. Some British fans are a little possessive about where he may call “home,” but as an expat myself, for me home is two places. And as you point out, he may pick up Americanisms because he hers them so often. I wasn’t aware of the ## issue. Good topic for a post, but I’m too lazy to track down the data, even if I would know how.

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  9. Richard’s an honorary American now- it’s just evidence he likes the USA. He’s adopting our seasonal nomenclature. Who’s going to see Love x3? I got tickets for early October in the 3d row from the stage so I’m excited! I hope my husband likes the play or I’ll never hear the end of it!

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      • Hubby has problems with Brit accents sometimes, but he’s gotten a lot better after we watched “The Tunnel” on PBS, which I highly recommend. Great acting, but hard to understand sometimes. I don’t think he will have any trouble understanding Richard. Richard’s had lots of training in diction. Also I love English premier league soccer, Go Spurs!, so hubby is used to British accents for 2 to 4 hours every weekend. He grumbles, but he can understand them. There are a lot of East London and Scouse accents in soccer so I think he’ll be fine!

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