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British children using ‘American English’

British children are increasingly using American English in their writing, according to a report based on entries to a BBC short story competition.

Children using Americanised words in their writing

British children are increasingly using American English in their writing, according to a report based on entries to a BBC short story competition.

Oxford University Press studied around 74,000 entries for Radio 2's 500 Words contest and found that Americanisms such as cupcake, garbage truck, trash can, candy, sidewalk and soda were found in many of the entries.

Famous people such as Justin Bieber, Prince William and Radio 2's Chris Evans made repeated appearances. Children's writer Dame Jacqueline Wilson, singer Jessie J and the footballers Lionel Messi and Wayne Rooney also featured prominently.

Technology also had a big influence, with popular words including Google and app (short for application). So-called "text speak" only featured when the story included an imagined text message, demonstrating that children are aware when it is not appropriate to use it.

The six winners of the competition will be announced on Chris Evans's breakfast show during a live broadcast from the Hay Festival on Friday.

David Walliams, Charlie Higson, Lauren Child and Andy Stanton join Dame Jacqueline on the all-author judging panel.
"These results are absolutely fascinating," said Mr Evans. “It’s given us a truly unique insight into how children think and the language they use."

More girls than boys entered the competition, which was open to two categories - those aged nine years and under and those aged from 10 to 13.

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