One would think that the British and Americans could easily communicate with one another. After all, we share much media, and the occasional differences in vocabulary are more fun than disruptive. Still, as Vicki Hollett recently pointed out in the case of Tony Hayward’s bungled appearance before the U.S. Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, there is often more to it than mere words. See “A British Apology” on Vicki’s similarly themed blog, Learning to Speak ‘merican.
Perhaps our very commonalities cause trouble in the first place. At least when someone speaks with a non-native accent, we can make some allowances for cross-cultural differences—well, some of the time, anyway. BP Chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg’s empathy for the “small people” affected by the mess in the Gulf of Mexico still rubbed Americans the wrong way.