CONCERNING THE AMERICAN LANGUAGE *
T HERE was an Englishman in our compartment, and he complimented me on — on what? But you would never guess. He complimented me on my English. He said Americans in general did not speak the English language as correctly as I did. I said I was obliged to him for his compliment, since I knew he meant it for one, but that I was not fairly entitled to it, for I did not speak English at all — I only spoke American.
He laughed, and said it was a distinction without a difference. I said no, the difference was not prodigious, but still it was considerable. We fell into a friendly dispute over the matter. I put my case as well as I could, and said:
" The languages were identical several generations ago, but our changed conditions and the spread of our people far to the south and far to the west have made many alterations in our pronunciation, and have introduced new words among us and changed the meanings of many old ones. English people talk through their noses; we do not. We say knew, English people say nao ; we say cow, the Briton says Mow ; we —''
* Being part of a chapter which was crowded out of "A Tramp Abroad."—M. T.