Americans are barmy over Britishism, says the New York Times. “Crikey, Britishisms are everywhere. Call it Anglocreep,” writes Alex Williams.
“Snippets of British vernacular — “cheers” as a thank you, “brilliant” as an affirmative, “loo” as a bathroom — that were until recently as rare as steak and kidney pie on these shores are cropping up in the daily speech of Americans (particularly, New Yorkers) of the taste-making set who often have no more direct tie to Britain than an affinity for “Downton Abbey,” he adds.
Well, I checked some of the words he cites on the Google Books Ngram Viewer using the corpus of American English to see if their usage has gone up in recent years. Not quite, if you look at the chart. I checked the words “brilliant” (blue), “lovely” (red), “cheers” (green), “loo” (yellow), “rubbish” (light blue) and “queue” (brown).
The one word in increasing use is “queue”, another word for “line”. Most of the other “Britishisms” have been declining in American use since the early 20th century, according to the Google Books Ngram Viewer.
Here is a look at their use since the 1950s. Only the word “queue” has become more common. The word “lovely” has picked up since 2000, but it was more widely used back in the 1950s. For some reason, the colours changed for “rubbish” (a darker shade of blue) and “queue” (purple)
This is not conclusive evidence, of course, of whether Britishisms are on the rise in American English. For we are looking at only a limited number of words. Still, I thought this was interesting because this is based on the Google Books Ngram Viewer, which offers literary evidence and not just isolated examples.