In the latest issue of The Week, I found an account of an unusual – and highly topical – cultural event that was I’m sure uplifting into the bargain: “The great American cellist Yo Yo Ma celebrated receiving his second dose of the coronavirus vaccine by giving an impromptu concert … The 65-year-old … performed renditions of pieces by Bach and Schubert … to enthusiastic rounds of applause.”

Nothing remarkable about any of that, you may say. I would guess, though, that when Yo Yo Ma was growing up sixty years ago, the word ‘rendition’ in the sense used here was an almost exclusively American term. In British English it had a time-honoured technical sense, signifying the handing over, or surrendering, of a city under siege, or the giving up of an individual (or group of individuals) in a formal exchange, for instance under military circumstances. For ‘performing’ or ‘interpreting’, we had a separate word: ‘rendering’. It was in America that ‘rendition’ had come to be used, as in my quote, to describe performances of music.