Kate Middleton just cain’t say no to William

ENGLISH language purists may be appalled, but I’ve gotten a soft spot for the things American usage does to what we still think of as our mother tongue.

Or, in some cases, the things it doesn’t do.

For instance, that “gotten” may have offended your ears as you read my first sentence. You may have thought it was a mistake. A ghastly Americanism.

But actually “gotten” is older than “got” as a past participle of the verb “to get”.

It’s just one example among many of America not having moved on as we have.

The USA may be proud of being a modern leader among nations. Yet in so many ways their outlook is still stuck in the 17th century, the era when their founders left Britain in order to pursue their quirky faiths in peace.

That reverence for cultic and fundamentalist religion is one survival. “Gotten” is another.

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And, paradoxical as it may seem, the American ability to keep making the language may also be a leftover from that pre-dictionary age.

My favourite quotation on the subject, from an anonymous GI, is this: “Ain’t a word that cain’t be verbed.”

Beautiful. It demonstrates perfectly the freedom it describes by making the word “verb” – in English English a noun only – into a verb. While at the same time riffing delightfully on the good old English “ain’t”, which has fallen into unfair disrepute on this side of the pond.

One apparent example of verbing a non-verb is the current trend in the US media for using the term “trending”. As in: “Trending now.” Or, as we might put it: “What’s trendy.”

Turns out, though, on consulting my dictionary, that “trend” was a verb before it was a noun. So maybe what sounds trendy and hip is just old hat after all.

Except I don’t think that when Time magazine uses “Trending Now” to advertise its latest stories it means “turning, bending or winding”.

So what is trending now in the US press?

Egypt Turmoil. Well, no great surprise there. Any regime change in the world’s largest Arab nation – the third largest state in Africa – embodies both hope and fear for us all.

Super Bowl. Also no surprise. Absorption in faintly ridiculous games the rest of the world doesn’t play is somehow a key component of the American psyche.

The Oscars. Everyone, it seems, loves the movies. And nearly everyone, oddly, still seems to care about showbiz honours and awards. I even used to take an interest myself.

And finally: Royal Wedding. Oh, good grief.

From whether Kate Middleton’s wedding attire to whether she will take over royal duties at Wimbledon; from Kate Middleton condoms (I kid you not) to casting for a TV movie called William & Kate (I still kid you not), America is obsessed. With what must surely be the least interesting thing happening in Britain this year.

The dreary Beckhams, the talented Mr Firth (playing royalty, of course) and the pointless pageantry of a couple of toffs getting spliced – is that the sum of what Britain means to America? To the world?

Sure looks like it’s gotten that way. Which cain’t be good.

IN the same month that Darren Bent became, albeit briefly, the costliest British footballer ever, another striker announced his graduation from the Ipswich Town academy.

Tamas Priskin’s goal may have taken the headlines and the plaudits, but the truly outstanding performer in a great team effort in the Carling Cup first leg against Arsenal was Connor Wickham.

It was, of course, Roy Keane who gave Wickham his first-team debut at 16. But it was in that first game of the post-Keane era that the youngster really came of age.

We’d heard a lot about Wickham’s potential, but that was when we – and the wider football world – really saw it.

He scored a few goals for Keane – four in 44 league appearances – but he’s playing with more freedom now.

A freedom he enjoyed to the max with his breathtaking goal against Sheffield United at the weekend. If you haven’t seen it – or if you only saw it live – it’s worth looking up online.

His first touch brought down and controlled a high ball that was heading out of play 20 yards inside his own half. And from there no other player touched it until it was nestling in the Blades’ net.

All eyes will now be on Wickham until the summer. Town will do well to hold onto him them. If they can’t, they should at least hold out for a Bent-like price.

And I don’t mean the �2.5million Charlton paid Ipswich in 2005 for Bent – whose moves since have racked up combined fees of �44.5m.

In the meantime, if Paul Jewell can keep alive the spirit the side have shown for him so far, we can all start looking towards the play-off zone again instead of the drop zone.