Early in the 19th century a number of British intellectuals and literary figures
visited the United States and on returning home wrote books based
on what they
As far as language was , they were for the most part at
what they heard. Frederick Marryat, in "A Diary in America", wrote, "It is
remarkable how very debased the language has become in a short period in America".
In 1842, Charles Dickens, in a letter to his family, stated that Americans used the
word "fix" for almost everything. On board a the steward "fixed" the tables
for breakfast; when a man is dressing in the morning he is "fixing" himself up for the day.
A stagecoach in which Dickens was
broke down and the driver said that
he'd "fix it" in a minute.
In 1828 Basil Hall, in his book, "Travels in North
America", wrote of his interview with Noah Webster, the man responsible for the first dictionary of
the American language. Hall was quite by
what the Americans were doing to the English language. Webster irritated him
by saying that his countrymen not only had the right to adopt new words but also to modify the language to
suit the circumstances.
He told Hall
it was as impossible to
the progress of language as it was to prohibit the flow of the Mississippi River. "If a word becomes universally
acceptable in America, why
should it not take its
place in the language?" Hall thought a moment, then
replied, "Because there are enough words already".