So what if Americans misuse the Queen’s English? David Mitchell could care less.

If you’ve spent much time in the company of the British, you’ve probably been involved in one of those tired arguments about the proper spelling of color and why Americans have forsaken the entirely sensible football in favor of the word soccer. These arguments, in my experience anyway, almost never end with the two sides “agreeing to disagree.” Feelings are usually hurt, friendships are often ended, and foreign exchange programs are sometimes cut short.

So give credit to actor, comedian, and Guardian columnist David Mitchell for trying to establish some common ground between the two camps. In a new video for the Guardian website, Mitchell forgoes the “standard, tedious British sneering about lieutenents and aluminum” to embark on an English-usage crusade that even this American can endorse. Why, Mitchell asks, must Americans insist on using the phrase “I could care less” when in fact they mean precisely the opposite? “If you could care less about something,” Mitchell says, “then all you’re telling us is that you do care at least a little bit. Because you could care less… ‘I could care less’ is absolutely useless as an indicator of how much you care, because the only thing it rules out is that you don’t care at all, which is exactly what you’re trying to convey.”

You’ll find Mitchell’s humorous rant, including a discussion of the misguided phrase “hold down the fort” and a “graph of caring,” here. Also check out Mitchell’s hilarious series Peep Show on Hulu.

[HT: The peerless Anglophile Scott Harris]

Word for the Travel Wise (05/28/06)

With this being an extended three-day weekend for some of us in the world, excluding myself I’m thinking I’m going to keep things easy. I’m not going to take you to Kazakhstan, Chad, or Yemen by way of some funky foreign slang you’ll probably never use in your entire life. I won’t even bother to provide you with some off-the-wall Polish vocabulary word lacking vowels. That seems incredibly ridiculous considering how we fail to understand our own brethren and sistren across the pond, so tonight I’m taking it back to basics. Tonight I will present our first ever Gadling English Lingo Guide for English Speakers, because I’m not afraid to admit I don’t know what the hell those crazy blokes are talking about.

Today’s word is an English word used in the United Kingdom:

bimble – to wander aimlessly or stroll/walk without urgency to a destination

How I love this new addition to my own personal dictionary and I know I’m not alone here! Before picking this word I wanted to double check to see that I hadn’t missed this one some where long ago in fourth grade. I swung by first and sure enough it didn’t recognize the word. The only results that came up was the zip code for Bimble, Kentucky (40915). Next, I moved onto Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary and once again this odd English word did not appear. Instead it triggered suggestions like: bumble, bible, bramble and broomball. Lastly, MS Word gives me the red squiggly line underneath every time it appears. Ha!

And while I’m confessing my ignorance to my very own first language, let me add that I do not know how often bimble is used. Perhaps it isn’t at all. In other words – that’s my disclaimer until some kind individual on the web notifies the rest of us otherwise. To see a list of British words not widely used in the United States head over to this Wikipedia page. If you’ve got some of your own to share – please don’t be shy.