Differences Between American And British English (vocabulary)
This is one of a series of articles about the differences between British English and American English, which, for the purposes of these articles, are defined as follows:
- British English (BrE) is the form of English used in the United Kingdom. It includes all English dialects used within the United Kingdom.
- American English (AmE) is the form of English used in the United States. It includes all English dialects used within the United States.
Written forms of British and American English as found in newspapers and textbooks vary little in their essential features, with only occasional noticeable differences in comparable media (comparing American newspapers with British newspapers, for example). This kind of formal English, particularly written English, is often called "standard English".
The spoken forms of British English vary considerably, reflecting a long history of dialect development amid isolated populations. In the United Kingdom, dialects, word use and accents vary not only between England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, but also within them. Received Pronunciation (RP) refers to a way of pronouncing Standard English that is actually used by about two percent of the UK population. It remains the accent upon which dictionary pronunciation guides are based, and for teaching English as a foreign language. It is referred to colloquially as "the Queen's English", "Oxford English" and "BBC English", although by no means all who live in Oxford speak with such accent and the BBC does not require or use it exclusively.
An unofficial standard for spoken American English has also developed, as a result of mass media and geographic and social mobility, and broadly describes the English typically heard from network newscasters, commonly referred to as non-regional diction, although local newscasters tend toward more parochial forms of speech. Despite this unofficial standard, regional variations of American English have not only persisted but have actually intensified, according to linguist William Labov.
Regional dialects in the United States typically reflect some elements of the language of the main immigrant groups in any particular region of the country, especially in terms of pronunciation and vernacular vocabulary. Scholars have mapped at least four major regional variations of spoken American English: Northern, Southern, Midland, and Western. After the American Civil War, the settlement of the western territories by migrants from the east led to dialect mixing and levelling, so that regional dialects are most strongly differentiated in the eastern parts of the country that were settled earlier. Localized dialects also exist with quite distinct variations, such as in Southern Appalachia and New York.
British and American English are the reference norms for English as spoken, written, and taught in the rest of the world. For instance member nations of the Commonwealth where English is not spoken natively, such as India, often closely follow British English forms, while many American English usages are followed in other countries which have been historically influenced by the United States, such as the Philippines. Although most dialects of English used in the former British Empire outside of North America and Australia are, to various extents, based on British English, most of the countries concerned have developed their own unique dialects, particularly with respect to pronunciation, idioms and vocabulary. Chief among other English dialects are Canadian English (based on the English of United Empire Loyalists who left the 13 Colonies), and Australian English, which rank third and fourth in number of native speakers.
For the most part American vocabulary, phonology and syntax are used, to various extents, in Canada; therefore many prefer to refer to North American English rather than American English. Nonetheless Canadian English also features many British English items and is often described as a unique blend of the two larger varieties alongside several distinctive Canadianisms. Australian English likewise blends American and British alongside native usages, but retains a significantly higher degree of distinctiveness from both of the larger varieties than does Canadian English, particularly in terms of pronunciation and vocabulary.
Other articles related to "british, american, english":
... Britishor AmericanEnglish? ... The Oxford Guide to World English ... The Cambridge Guide to EnglishUsage ...
Famous quotes containing the words english, differences, american and/or british:
“The English are polite by telling lies. The Americans are polite by telling the truth.”
—Malcolm Bradbury (b. 1932)
“Quintilian [educational writer in Rome about A.D. 100] hoped that teachers would be sensitive to individual differences of temperament and ability. . . . Beating, he thought, was usually unnecessary. A teacher who had made the effort to understand his pupils individual needs and character could probably dispense with it: I will content myself with saying that children are helpless and easily victimized, and that therefore no one should be given unlimited power over them.”
—C. John Sommerville (20th century)
“The further jazz moves away from the stark blue continuum and the collective realities of Afro-American and American life, the more it moves into academic concert-hall lifelessness, which can be replicated by any middle class showing off its music lessons.”
—Imamu Amiri Baraka (b. 1934)
“Wearing overalls on weekdays, painting somebody elses house to earn money? Youre working class. Wearing overalls at weekends, painting your own house to save money? Youre middle class.”
—Lawrence Sutton, British prizewinner in competition in Sunday Correspondent (London)