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.”
[HT: The peerless Anglophile Scott Harris]