The American Love of the Four-Letter Word

As an Anglophile with a traditional British education, we were raised on the sacred texts of Chaucer and Shakespeare, Keats and Shelley; the holy writings of Donne, Milton and Spencer; the hallowed historians of Asa Briggs, Sir Robert Ensor, AJP Taylor, Winston Churchill and Alistair Cooke. These writers not only defined our nationalism an d interests; they broadened the parameters and depths of our national identities and commonalities. But over and above that, they provided us with a language that elevated us to literary heights of stratospheric superiority over our American cousins across the pond.

And then I came to America. What began as a — LIKE — blip on the talking scene in normal American dialogue — well, LIKE — morphed into a 2st-century plague which has underscored — LIKE — how lost America has become in the ability ( or otherwise) to speak a basic sentence of substance and meaning without constant and repetitious use of this Four Letter Word.

You’ve — LIKE — probably guessed it by now ( did I give you — LIKE — enough hints ?? ). Listening to an Englishman talk used to be a natural extension of decent, precise, terminology, expressed thoughtfully, and stated exactly . However, listening to and American — LIKE — talk today has become one of the most jarring — LIKE — horrific experiences in my listening career. You at times just lose count of — LIKE — the many times this word is used in a sentence that never seems to conclude because of the need to repeat this word numerous times, and for every occasion.

Yes I know. In all of the major headlines hitting the newspapers and media world, this its hardly one of them. But a nation’s ability to express itself (or inability) gives expression to its standing and purpose on the world scenario. It supposedly radiates a level of sophistication and sophistry that excels into making it unique amongst the peoples of the world. Is this why the most powerful nation in the world continues to stand aside and give immediate and ready credence and wonder to every English individual who opens their mouth and …. just speak ? What comes naturally to the English seems to come with so much difficulty to the Americans!

So while it is — LIKE — obvious now that the American will never sound like their English cousins — and that’s before I get talking about their spelling of good old English traditional words — it really does seem apparent that this little Four Letter Word will become the basis by which American English will define the future of the American nation.

God help them!!

About the Author
Rabbi Chaim Landau is Emeritus Rabbi and President of the Baltimore Board of Rabbis. He served the Bnai Jacob Congregation and later Ner Tamid Congregation in Baltimore. He was born in the UK, graduated Jews College with Bachelors Degree in Jewish Studies, has Smichah from Israel.