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Xenophobe's Guide to the Americans

“They call spade a spade, or possibly ‘earth-reorientation equipment’ if they work for the government.” American speech is remarkably straightforward. They tell it as it is. Linguistic subtlety, innuendo, and irony that other nations find delightful puzzle the Americans, who take most statements at face value, weigh them for accuracy , and reject anything they don’t understand. They call a spade a spade, or possibly ‘earth-reorientation equipment ’ if they work for the government, and have trouble with complex metaphors. The Americans’ love of tinkering, of making things better, of including those who might be left out, and of avoiding the negative means that recent arrivals view speaking English as just one more assimilation project. Thousands of words have been added from immigrants’ languages (such as ‘schmuck’, a stupid or contemptible person), or conflated out of two words (such as ‘brunch’, a combination of br-eakfast and l-unch), or abbreviated into and used for something only marginally related (such as ‘nuke’ for ‘heat in a microwave oven’, ‘ace a test’ for ‘getting a top grade’, or ‘repo’ for ‘repossession of an item that is behind on its payments’). “Thousands of words have been added from immigrants’ languages such as ‘schmuck’. ”

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