Picking up the “i” newspaper in London today, I read an interview with Alyssa Mastromonaco (lovely name), a former top adviser to Barack Obama who’s written a memoir of her time in the White House. She is an American. However, in the interview, she is quoted as saying: “OK, sure, there were arguments, because we were passionate people, but we always sorted our issues in house.”

My eye fixed on that word “sorted.” Although I have written a NOOBs post on the verb (it means, roughly, “take care of” and is unavoidable here), it really hasn’t penetrated to the U.S. And therefore, just as a few years back when I read an interview by a Welsh journalist in which American ex-CEO Al Dunlop was purported to say “rubbish” instead of “garbage,” I was dubious that Mastromonaco had actually used “sorted.”

Of course, it’s possible that she’s quite up on British lingo and purposely adopted it when talking to the reporter. But the only way to find out for sure is if Alyssa Mastromonaco reads this post. I await her comment.

Update: The internet sure is something. After posting this, I asked Ms. Mastromonaco on Twitter if she had said “sorted.” Within minutes, she replied that indeed she had. So this issue is sorted.

9 thoughts on “Suspicious

  1. Curious. To my British ears it doesn’t sound idiomatically British. You’d sort out issues. To sort issues would be to arrange them in some sort of order. “We sorted these issues by urgency.” But we would say, “We had some issues, but their sorted now” meaning they’d been dealt with. And that is often abbreviated colloquially to just “Sorted”..

    Unless it was a misprint and she said “We sorted out issues in house.”

    1. @Paul Dormer

      I grew up in England before emigrating to the US in the late 90s. “Sorted” for “sorted out” was something I knew only from “Only Fools and Horses”; it still sounds wrong to me. Either I was particularly behind the times, or it’s become standard since I left.

  2. I first noticed ‘sorted out’ – in the context of ‘solved’ or ‘fixed’ being replaced with ‘sorted’ in about 1988 in London. I heard only working class people saying it but it spread to all strata of society over time. I remember finding it ugly and lazy but now I have caught myself using it once or twice.

  3. I’ll have to think about it more, but ‘sorted’ – instead of ‘sorted out’ seems to come at the end of a sentence, as if you can’t end a sentence with ‘out’. Maybe Alyssa said ‘sorted out issues in house’?

    ps – I’m Australian

  4. @Nick L. Tipper Perhaps she’s a fan of Pulp (“Sorted For E’s and Wizz”) or The Shamen (#1 “Ebeneezar Goode”). The context from 1988 would be “sorted”=”I have purchased some ecstasy” (MDMA).

  5. There is also the more sinister use of the word “sorted”. Some years ago our company offices in the North West of England were broken into and some computers stolen. We directors were discussing the problem and were eavesdropped by one of our employees who moonlighted as a bouncer in a nightclub. He had an unsurpassed knowledge of the local hoodlums and offered to have the malefactor identified and “sorted”. As one of the city’s major employers we felt it politic to decline his offer, although were tempted!

  6. I recognise most of these ways of using ‘sorted out’, but another context is to get people back in a good state. I have often been at a party or on a night out where someone’s come up and said “John (for example) is being sick in the toilet. He needs to sort himself out”. Meaning he needs to get his act together and sober up. Similarly people who have given up drugs or alcohol problems or reformed wayward kids are often described as having “sorted themselves out”.

    Regarding “sorted” as a standalone word meaning done, I am in my mid 30s but would still only jokingly say that in a working class London accent. So maybe the ‘Only Fools & Horses’ comment above is true.

  7. I’m American, and I would agree that “sorted” sounds British. However, I’ve been hearing people use “sorted out” my whole life. As in, I’m glad we got that sorted out.

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