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Инфоурок / Иностранные языки / Статьи / Доклад по английскому языку "British English and American English. Similarities and Differences."

Доклад по английскому языку "British English and American English. Similarities and Differences."

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Introduction ………………………………………………….. 3-4

Chapter 1 American English and its Development…………... 5-7

Chapter 2 British English and American English…………….. 8-9

2.1 Similarities of two variants of English…………………… 9-11

Chapter 3 Differences of American English

from British English …………………………………………… 12-15

3.1 Phonologic distinctions……………….……......................... 15-16

3.2Lexical signs…………………………………….…………...16-17

3.3Grammatical features..………………………………………18-19

3.4 Spelling and punctuation features………………………… 20

Chapter 4 Youth Slang………………………………………….21-22

Chapter 5 Practical Part ………………………………………..23-30


Selective Research Bibliography……………………………… 32


Modern English belongs to the West German group of languages. It is native for 410 million people, not less than 1 billion people speak this language. It is an official language of Great Britain, the USA, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Ireland (in Canada together with French, in Ireland — with Irish, on Malta - with Maltese), one of official languages of India and 15 African states. It’s one of the official and working languages of the UN.

English comes back to languages of old-german tribes, who moved from the continent in the V—VI centuries to Britain, occupied by Celts. Interaction of different tribes’ dialects, developing in the conditions of formation of an English nationality, led to formation of territorial dialects. But in Great Britain there is a set of versions of this language, called as dialects and accents.

Colonial expansion of England in the XVII-XIX centuries caused spreading of English outside Great Britain and led to emergency of some regional differences, mainly in lexicon. For example, differences between the American English and British English can be explained by the first settlers who arrived in North America from London and its suburbs (1607), and the last settlers were natives, mainly, from northern part of Great Britain and Ireland.

It is quite difficult to draw a line between concepts: a language variant and a dialect since according to definition, both of them can be characterized as variants of this language, specific to a certain group of people. But it isn't necessary to forget that the main distinction consists that some variants of the language, in this case English, already began to play as independent languages (others will inevitably follow their example), that never will happen to dialect speech.

There are multiple local variations of English in the countries where it is native for a small amount of the exclusive population, it is considered the second official language or is used for communication with foreigners. Any of the countries using similar variations, isn't European one - India, Pakistan, Malaysia, Thailand, South Korea, Philippines, Nigeria, Uganda. In my opinion the topic “English outside Great Britain and how American English differs from British English" is of present interest.

The purpose of my work is: to find as much as possible information about British English and American English and to analyze it and to answer the question “British English and American English as the two variants of the English language.”

The following item will be researched in the work: similarities and differences of these two variants of English. Besides, the most important factors affected the studied item will be researched in the work: history of the English language, phonetic and lexical distinctions and examples of these distinctions.

The following methods will be used in my work: comparative research, discursive analyses. The research is based on the analyses of various source of information, such as division of American English from British English, the internet resource, articles from books and magazines.

The work consists of introduction, theoretical and practical chapters, conclusion, selective research bibliography and appendix.



The American English gained the international value after World War II when the United States began to play an important role in a post-war reorganization of the world, and achievements in the field of policy, economy and modern technologies allowed the USA to have considerable impact for the whole world. Today American English has dominating impact on "world English", and it is explained by the following factors:

- population (the number of American English speakers are 70% compared with 17% of British English speakers from total number who use English as native language);

- more powerful economy of the USA in comparison with the British one;

- a great number of higher educational institutions in the USA in comparison with Great Britain;

- developed printing industry of the USA;

- influence of the American mass media and information technologies on a global scale;

- influence of the American pop culture on world languages and people’s way of life in the whole world

- international political and economic situation of the USA.

At the beginning of the seventeenth century colonists from England brought their language to America. The first British settlers came to North America in 1607 and founded a city of Jamestown in the territory of the present State of Virginia. In November, 1620 the puritans who have arrived by the ship "Mayflower" founded the city of Plymouth. Inhabitants of these two settlements had various language traditions. Colonists of Jamestown "arrived mainly from the western part of England, from such counties as Somerset and Gloucestershire, with a characteristic pronunciation for these places – instead the sound [s] they pronounced [z], that is the name Somerset they pronounced as [´Zɔmərzət], and a rolling pronunciation of a sound [r] after vowels" [1]. Plymouth colonists arrived from east counties of England (Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire, Essex, Kent) and London where dialects were a bit different – so, they didn’t pronounce the sound [r] after vowels. These sound distinctions remained nowadays. Speakers of various dialects settled in the west and the South. And though the picture of spreading of dialects was never accurate because of mobility of population from the north to the south and in the opposite direction and inflow of emigrants from the various countries of the world, distinctions at the level of dialects remain in the USA nowadays. In the XVII-XVIII centuries flows of emigrants constantly grew, who brought a variety of languages and dialects to the country. For example, the State of Pennsylvania became populated mainly by Quakers who came, as a rule, from the middle and northern parts of England. But not only England had an impact to the development of American English. In the XVIII century a lot of immigrants from Ireland rushed to North America. All these new inhabitants of North America, including aborigines - Indians, made the contribution to the development of a dialect of colonies. Mass emigration to the new state – the United States of America – proceeded in the XIX-XX centuries. Despite a great number of languages and cultures of the new settlers, English was a predominating language. Thanks to natural process of assimilation the majority of families of immigrants started speaking English during one-two generations’ life. However it is easy to notice multicultural character of the United States as in the USA people use personal names which kept the national features: Spanish – Rodolfo, Dolores, Italian – Antonio, Niccolo, Paolo, Portuguese – Mario, Manuel, Raul, German – Rupert, Rudolf. However English of North American colonies was significantly enriched because it borrowed a lot of words from other languages . Settlers borrowed words from Indian languages for designation of plants unfamiliar to them (for example, hickory – a hazel grove sort, or persimmon) and animals (raccoon, woodchuck – a forest groundhog). From French it borrowed the word “chowder”– a sort of soup, prairie – the prairie; from Dutch – the word “scow” – a barge, the jolly boat, “sleigh” – sledge. Many new words appeared by a combination of two already known words, for example, a backwoods– a solitude, an isolated place, bullfrog – a frog is like a bull. Many English words received new meanings, for example, “lumber” in the meaning of “garbage” , in English is used in a narrower meaning – rags, a tatter; corn - in the meaning of “maize”, in English this word earlier meant any grain. It is obvious that new words appeared so far as in life of former Europeans a set of new realities appeared for which there was no designation in English and other languages.

Except a lexicon, there was a difference in a pronunciation, in grammatical designs, especially strong difference was in intonation. There is an opinion that if colonization happened two - three centuries before, American English would differ from British as strongly as modern French from Italian, i.e. instead of different variants of one language there would be different languages. However colonization happened after the invention of printing and proceeded during the education era with its ideas of a general education. For a long time the majority of the books read in America, were English. Moreover, many colonists continued to maintain relations with England in what they differed from the Anglo-Saxon ancestors, who, as we know, had no any communications with the continent after resettlement to the British Isles. Americans, who were for accurate English condemned any "Americanisms" emphasizing difference between them and British. In the present time many "Americanisms" gained their existence even in British English.



Learning of foreign language shows how closely any language is connected with history and culture of the society speaking this language. Considerable changes in language testify changes in society life. Spreading of English outside Great Britain caused emergence of new national variant of English. The status of such language variants caused many disputes, but now we can safely speak about the American English (AE) as one of the main variants of British English. We can see changes of the British English (BE) and American English (AE) during the various periods of their development. Now we can speak about two tendencies: their further differentiation and interference. Each language in its development experiences influences of internal (intra linguistic) and external (extra linguistic) factors. The initial extra linguistic factor causing development of American English (AE) was the separation of group of native speakers from their country, language and the culture, who arrived to North America in 1620 by the ship Mayflower. Thanks to this event there were the historical and cultural conditions favourable for development of independent language variant.

Northern dialect and Scottish dialect speakers arrived here later. Until the end of the XIX century the majority of immigrants came from Great Britain, Ireland, Germany and Scandinavia. Sooner or later all of them accepted English as the main means of communication since all the subjects at school were taught in English and the knowledge of English was an important condition of social growth. Thus, the American English developed on the basis of English national language of the XVII century. The same language was spoken at the first American universities – Harvard, founded in 1638 and Yale, founded in 1701, but a great part of youth was taught at universities of Great Britain.

The British English includes three language types: conservative English - language of royal family and the parliament, the accepted standard - the mass media language, it is still called BBC English and the “advanced English”, which is called youth language. The “advanced English” has mostly general tendency to language simplification. Changes happen first of all in the lexicon, one of the most mobile parts of language: new phenomena appear which are necessary to name, and old things get new names. The new lexicon comes to the British youth language from other variants of English, particularly, American. Therefore studying English demands continuous communication practice . People have a lot of opportunities to practise their language, it can be online English language course on which you can, without leaving the house or office, improve the colloquial skills. Language of the educated population of London and the southeast of England – got the status of the national standard. Its basis is made by "the correct English" – language of the best private schools (Eton, Winchester, Harrow, Rugby) and universities (Oxford, Cambridge). It is also classical, literary English on which any courses of English at linguistic schools for foreigners are based.

2.1 Similarity of two variants of English

Both American English, and British English are variants of one and the same language, that is, English. There are more similarities, than distinctions between them, especially when we hear literate, educated people’s speech or scientific language. The reason of the majority of divergences are in historical and cultural development of these two countries, a variety of local and regional idioms and set expressions, and also influence of mass media and advertizing. American English is a language variant of English, the accepted national standard in the territory of the USA. English in the USA, as well as in other regions of its spreading, was brought to North America by the British (mainly English) colonists in the XVII—XVIII centuries, and under the influence of various external and internal factors, a number of peculiar features developed in phonetic, grammar and lexicon. In the USA American English is native for 80% of the population of the country and is considered to be a standard language, which is used in educational system and mass media. It has a number of peculiarities in the field of spelling, grammars and lexicon. Nevertheless, it, as well as English in general, isn't fixed in the federal constitution as official language of the USA though actually it is. Recently, with growth of the Spanish-speaking population, movement for giving of the state status to American English is increasing and has already reached the level of many states. After the end of World War II considerable territorial and quantitative coverage of the American English supported with considerable economic resources of the USA, helped English to receive wider world value and influence on other language systems. It should be noted that in the majority of the countries where English has spread it happens voluntary, isn’t imposed violently from the outside. Both Americans and British mutually laugh and dislike languages of each other. From the point of view of the British people the American English is too rough, but British English is the language of polite people. Americans consider the British English to be too tense, hypocritical language of snobs, but American English is thought to be friendlier by them.

But the campaign for "purity" of English, begun somewhere in the 60-70s of the 20th century in Great Britain, finished in a failure! First, British often began to speak on "American" manners, secondly, it became "fashionable" to speak “American" among youth in England as movies, TV, video - all are often sounded "in American" and thirdly, American English became more popular with people in the whole world. So pure English in Great Britain can be met now only on secular receptions, in noble houses and rich suburbs where elite lives , but in the streets of big English cities many people speak American English. So, it is possible to say that "pure" English traditional language gradually disappears, and it is forced out by "universal". Now there is a new type of the universal English which has features of different languages. Instead of American English and British English appeared "a language of an international communication". It is, naturally, easier for understanding. First, it is neutral on coloring, secondly, foreigners speak English more slowly, pronounce sounds separately. Besides, it is more convenient: you don’t need to pronounce or speak “pure” American English or “pure” British English. Proceeding from all these facts, it is possible to draw a conclusion that we need to know differences between British and American English to communicate better with people from different parts of the world.



We know that the USA is a multinational country and there are a lot of various races there. Generally the black population suffers most often as there is a discrimination of this population. But there are also representatives of other nationalities who are also oppressed in America, and not only in language.

Taking into consideration a very important problem for the public theory of social differentiation of language and social structures two main measurements of social variability are highlighted – stratification and situational. Stratification variability is connected with social structure of society that is the social status of a speaker, and situational - social situations of functional usage of language. Between stratification and situational variability there is a close interrelation: the distinctions caused by social stratification of society, are imposed on the distinctions caused by a social situation. Let's address to following sentence: "We will go, Peter", he said. Here the form of future tense of the first person where in the British English the auxiliary verb ” shall” is used, is forced out by a form of future tense of the second and third person. We can see coexistence of two models of future tense in American English. In the first, the most widespread, as a universal indicator of future the verb “will” is used, but also in England the most part of the population now use the same form of speech.

Social classes in the USA are defined indistinctly and their moving up or down in social hierarchy is simply associations of people with identical social and economic characteristics. Grammatical features typical for an informal context are quite various. So, there are structures, the general for all a society level which directly depend on sociocultural and sociophsichological factors (social norms, values, motivations, orientations and mechanisms of social control).

Besides the listed factors, prevailing impact on various use of language is made by a social situation. One of its parameters is the relations, that is relationship between participants of the communication, defined by a social and communicative situation. During social interaction the person should play more or less extensive repertoire of social roles. Thus he/she plays the various roles: a teacher - a pupil, a judge - an accused, a customer - a seller, a husband -a wife.

Changes of roles significantly changes structure of social situations, and, therefore, influences a choice of language means. These constructions represent the typical phenomenon and special structure of informal conversation as result of a social and communicative situation.

So, this or that social situation is a major factor to use certain grammatical structures and lexical units with a certain phonetic meaning. Violation of these rules is realized by all members of language community, but in different degree. The higher the social status of a person, the more strictly he observes these rules and the more sharply he perceives this violation. Besides, complexity of a person’s speech depends on his social status. Therefore only the grammatical features inherent to the people of the lowest social status are of interest because their speech characteristic allows to define their social status. These features differ at syntactic and morphological levels. There is a dependence of grammatical structures of an informal context on socially - dialect differentiation. At syntactic level, in turn, interaction and merge of grammatical and phonetic changes and usage of “ain’t” instead of any form of the verb “to be” shows insufficient level of education in society in all areas. As for morphological level, grammatical structures with “ain’t” instead of any form of the verb” to have “ gains huge popularity.

Existence of these noted features is the proof socially - dialect differentiation. In particular, in literature they serve to fuller disclosure of an image of the hero by means of his speech characteristic, mark his social status and situation in society.

The alternativeness is a property of language system which is shown not only at all levels of language, but also in all types of its functioning. One of the reasons of intralinguistic alternativeness of English is its functioning in different fields of activity and in different territories. Developed in language system of American English the alternative relations have various realization in functional styles. English variants are as a reverse side of functional and style differentiation of language. Each variant is characterized by differences typical for it at phonetic, lexical, semantic and grammatical levels. Distinctive signs of English cover not only the dialect phenomena, but also the phenomena of the literary language. In certain cases we find borrowed words in one variant and the word of an English origin in another one. Such words appeared after division of English into British English and American English: a lift - an elevator, a tap – a faucet. Sometimes the new borrowed words displace the old ones from the American English language: rubbish – gabbage. Some general words, keeping the general dominant meaning, get various sense or the use. For example: purse – the British version: A small flat leather container divided into parts for keeping paper money, cards, coins, in, and used especially by woman; American version: Small pouch for carrying money on the person; pavement – the British version: hard level surface or path at the side of a road for people to walk on; American version: paved path, roadway. And the meaning which ‘pavement’ has in the British variant, in American it is expressed by the noun - 'sidewalk' - paved track for pedestrians.

It is clear that nowadays there is a social differentiation of English in the USA and Great Britain. We assume that this differentiation, certainly, happens because of mixture and a variety of the population. But, in our opinion, the main reason is huge influence of the American language on English. Certainly, the worst aspect is that the conventional English which was spoken a set of centuries, changes under the influence of the American version.

At school we are taught standard English, instead of modern. The purpose of it is that we could be understood in any English-speaking country. Grammar always was the stablest part of a language. However, the middle English period is characterized by considerable changes in morphology which turned English into analytical language. These processes came to the end only in the new English period and therefore in American English we find echoes of old forms, for example perfect forms with an auxiliary verb of “to be” in sentences like this:

Нe is gone.

I am done.

I am finished.

Word order, being, certainly fixed, also shows some liberties in comparison with the British language. The knowledge of culture and national history, certainly, increases efficiency of communication. Culture studying without knowledge of language always won’t be enough.

Distinction between American and British English versions are mostly seen in lexicon and somewhat in phonetics; differences in grammar are insignificant. At a large number of newly appeared words in American English lexicon word-formation models remain the same with British English.

3.1 Phonologic distinctions

Internal factors of language development are caused, first of all, by language tradition and language function. The influence of these factors increases or decreases depending on language level (phonetic, lexical, grammatical). As the development of American English shows , the phonetics is to a lesser extent influenced by the language tradition. So, some phonetic changes happening in British English, since XVII century aren't seen in American English. For example, the consonant [r] didn't undergo vocalization in American English and instead the diphthong in British English, we find ‘a monophthong + r’ in American English, and instead a triphthong there is ‘a diphthong + r’: hear [hir], sure [∫ur], fire [fir]. In certain cases the vowel changes as well as in the British English, but vocalization [r] doesn't happen: hard [ha:rd], fir [fз:r].

May be in these words vocalized [r] appeared again in American English by analogy to those cases where there was no vocalization. Some phonetic tendencies, characteristic for both versions of English, are better shown in American English. So, the rhythmic tradition led to change of an accent in compound words: 'nece'ssary', abso'lutely, 'labora'tory', ´adver'tisement.

In the word " 'adver'tisement" the second accent changed a vowel pronunciation an open syllable. More intensively in comparison with British English there is a formation of affricates. In most cases affricates appear at first in American English, and only after that they appear in British English: congratulate, educate, bless you, have to.

It is known that there was no full correspondence between a letter and a sound in Old English when the Latin alphabet was accepted.

3.2 Lexical signs

During colonization and after the USA was founded, emigrants from various parts of the world came there. Their languages affected development of American English, especially in those parts of the USA where English was in long contact with other languages, especially with French and Spanish. The analysis of place names gives a clear depiction of the history how North America was settled. So, we find the Spanish names in the south and the southwest (Santa Fe San Buenaventura), French names in the southeast (Lafayette, Louisiana, Louisville, Arkansas) and in the north and the northeast (Chicago, Michigan), Indian names (Milwaukee, Chattahoochee River), the name of New England with elements - ford (Rumford), - burg (Ogdensburg), - town (Provincetown), - bury (Salisbury), - brook (Westbrook), - dale (Carbondale), - chester/-cester/-caster (Rochester, Glouchester, Lancaster), - wick (Brunswick) which completely coincide with names of their Homeland, or contain elements of their native language.

Historically the United States originate in New England. Since pioneer settlements the main language here is English, however influence of other languages on English is great. The number of borrowed words from German, French, Spanish is unequal in various parts of the USA. Those words which show the American realities were included into English before the American version appeared, and equally both variants of the English language possess, for example: canyon, tornado, prairie, rapids. At first they entered into language of the English settlers in America, and it is possible to say that they were territorially limited. Later they became part of the national dictionary. Some borrowed words have different meanings in American English (AE) and British English (BE). For example: kindergarten – British English: school for children aged two to five; American English: class or school for children before first grade; biscuit - British English: thin, flat, dry, usually sweet cake that is usually sold in packages or tins; American English: quick-baking bread made in small buns; cracker; caravan - British English: 1. vehicle that a car can pull in which people can live and sleep when they are on holiday; 2 . covered vehicle pulled by a horse in which people such as gypsies live. American English: people traveling together across a desert. The meaning of the word “caravan” in American English has respectively the meanings ‘trailer’ and ‘wagon’.

In certain cases we find borrowing in one version and the word of an English origin in the other. Such words appeared after division of English into the British and American versions: aubergine (BE) - eggplant (AE), lift (BE) - elevator (AE), tap (BE) - faucet (AE). Some English words, keeping the general dominant meaning, get various sense or the use in British and American English.

Reconsideration of words in American English led to emergence of the new meanings or narrowing of the old meanings, to replacement of the old words by the new ones: “apartment” instead of “flat”, “yard” instead of “garden”, “rooster” instead of “cock”, “line” instead of “queue”, “mall” instead of “shopping center”.

Spreading of American English in that territory where British English earlier dominated leads to interpenetration of dictionary of both versions and many words start existing as synonyms.

3.3 Grammatical features

1.There is a certain difference in the use of verb tenses. So, instead of Present Perfect the Americans can use Past Simple. Perfect Tense in a spoken language is not used at all and it became a usual phenomenon became that it is time to enter it into grammar. The phrase: "Did you see "Redheat" with Arnold? " is considered by many Americans absolutely natural and true, though, according to standard English including American grammar, Perfect is required: "Have you seen …? " or at least as a colloquial form: "Seen "Redheat" yet? " Usually the main contribution to ignoring of Perfect tenses is referred to immigrants from those countries in whose languages there are no perfect tenses, Russian is also mentioned. However any English-speaking American will use Perfect if other tense makes the statement unclear. Past participle of a verb “got” sounds as “gotten”.

2.Instead of an auxiliary verb “shall” in American English the verb “will” is used which, in its turn, is forced out by the “gonna” form – colloquial version of the verb “going to”. It is nowadays the general tendency of English. In the difficult system of verbal tenses which has gradually come instead of binary temporary system of Old English language which initially expressed the opposition of the present and future tenses to past, two important changes are seen. The first change is in more and more broad use of Present simple “I eat” (in general meaning) instead of “I am eating” (at present moment). This change gives to the action described by a verb more vitality and realty – and it differs from other current trends in the language, as a whole aspiring to bigger profitability and brevity of language expression. The second change is in wider use of expanded forms of a verb “go” to describe the near future, like in the sentence “We are going to write” instead of "We Will Write". The verb “go” with the meaning “walk” – “go on foot”, nowadays lost the former meaning that can be used as an auxiliary verb in the expression: We are going to go a long way” - "We Are Going to Pass a Long Way".

3. Also in American colloquial English we can see such a tendency of an English verb “to do”, as gradual replacement of the third person “ does” by the first and second person “do”. It belongs also to a negative form of this verb. This tendency can be seen also in British English. (it is an example from “The Beatles” group song - "She's got a ticket to ride, and she don't care", what proves that it isn't actually American. However, in literary English still there is a use of the third person of a verb “does”.

4. In American English the verb “should” after verbs “demand, insist, require” isn't used: "I demanded that he apologize" instead of "I demanded that he should apologize" in British English.

5. Many irregular verbs (for example, to burn, to spoil) in American English are correct.

6. Articles are differently used in American and British English. For example, "to/in the hospital" in American English, while in British it is used without an article "to/in hospital" .

7. Often in the same expression instead of one preposition another is used, for example, "on the weekend/on weekend" instead of "at the weekend/at weekend" in British English; «on the street" instead of "in the street".

8. Many set expressions in American English changed their verb. For example, the Americans will say "take a shower/a bath" instead of "have a shower/a bath", instead of "needn't" the complex form "don't need to" is used.

9. Adjectives “slow” and “real” are used as an adverb: He likes to drive slow (instead of “slowly”). She's real nice (instead of “really”).

10. Americans less willingly, than British, use plural forms of the verbs with the collective nouns (the audience were, the government have ). However, despite stated differences above, the majority of grammatical features of American English are not considered normal in modern English.

3.4 Spelling and punctuation features

The phonetic changes which happen in language don’t find spelling reflection, and made English spelling quite difficult. In American English the spelling became simpler. This process concerned theendings: - our (BE) - or (AE), - re (BE) - er (AE), doubling of final - l is absent in an unaccented syllables in such verbs as travel, cancel. (traveled - AE). These distinctions are, generally, a merit of Noy Webster (1758–1843) who introduced writing - er instead of - re (center - 'centre', meter - 'metre', theater -'theatre') in American English, - or instead of - our (favor – favour , honor - honour, labor - labour), check instead of cheque ', connection instead of connexion, jail instead of gaol - 'prison', story instead of storey - 'floor'.

It is possible to explain a simplicity of spelling of such words as thru (through), tho (though), u (you), lite (light), nite (night). Such spelling corresponds to their phonetic form, we can meet these forms of spelling in headings, advertizing, guide signs. Probably, such simplification of spelling is caused by the fact that in the USA there is a large number of immigrants for whom English is neither native nor the main language and these immigrants know only colloquial language. There is a difference in writing of dates in American and British English:

month/day/year day/month/year

12/03/03 12/03/03

March 12, 2003 December 3, 2003

In official business letters the address is written differently:

(AE) Dear Mr. Jones: (BE) Dear Mr Jones,

(AE) Mr. or Mrs. or Dr. Smith (BE) Mr or Mrs or Dr Smith


There is one more widespread sphere of English lexicon which actively gets recently into literature and cinema and demands therefore special explanations. It is a problem of a youth slang. The slang occupies rather big part of the dictionary of modern American English. In the XX century there is an active process of transition of slang lexicon to literary English. Such widespread words and expressions nowadays , as “of course, to take part, to get up, lunch” were slang not long ago. Especially it is necessary to say a few words about expression which is included recently into all school textbooks of English, but by origin it was the American slang idiom. This expression is “OK”, a colloquial abbreviation of the phrase “all correct”("everything is correct"). "The new English-Russian dictionary" by V.K.Müller lists the following meanings of this word:

1. "please" (answer to gratitude expression)

2. "is healthy", "are healthy" (in reply to a question " How are you?", "How is your wife? ")

3 . "correct" 4. "everything is all right" 5. "well", "all right"

Now there is an active penetration of other versions of the statement and denial into English . Instead of “yes” even British nowadays use “yea”. Besides, the British often say not “yes” but “yap”, and not “no” but “nope" on Canadian manners . The American English has impact on functions of proper names. This century the tradition of use of derivatives of full names as independent names continued its development. Derivatives of names in modern English are used not only at private and household level of communication (among relatives, friends and acquaintances), but also in an official situation. Names of some U.S. Presidents can be an example of it: James Earl Carter was reduced to Jimmy Carter, William Jefferson Clinton – to Bill Clinton.

Some interesting examples of a modern slang of English will be given below , it needs to be noted that English changes and degrades. And as it is clear from this work in the future English will depend on youth, that’s why it’s necessary to know, what language they speak.

Search me? - I don't know. Do you know what time is it now? - Search me! I got no watch!

Show off - boast: - Hey look! Jane shows her new dress off! - Look! Jane boasts with her new dress!

So long –see you later, ciao.

Hot dog” is such a sandwich with sausage and a roll, known as "hot dog", and exclamation like "cool! "is also “Hot dog!”


American and British English. Distinctions

Distinctions in the terms relating to the policy and public institutions.

Table 1

American English

British English




Университетский состав




Is run

Is named


Private school

Public school

Частная школа







Different pronunciation with identical writing (as homographs)



AE Pronunciation

BE Pronunciation


'ædvз:r ´taizmənt

əd'vз: ti smənt


'ka:n ´trəvз:rsi






















ɔr 'ga:nə










Distinctions in spelling.

Table 3



























The same word, but with other meaning (as homonyms)

Table 4

British English

American English

I married a homely girl.


a good house-keeper

The opening of our new play was a bomb!

bad, a failure

a great success

We all had tea and biscuits. ('crumpets' vs 'English muffins')

a type of bread baked in small round pieces


SBE crumpet

a thin, flat, dry, usually sweet cake


SAE muffin

We needed a torch for the dark trail.

a flaming torch


a small electric lamp that you carry in your hand


SAE flashlight

Evelyn took a coin out of [his/her] purse.

women's handbag

дамская сумочка

SBE handbag

coin purse

кошелек, бумажник

SAE change purse

The committee tabled the motion.

to leave a motion, idea, offer etc to be dealt with it in the future


SBE put a motion on the table

to suggest a motion etc for other people to consider


SAE suggest, propose

The corn harvest was exceptional this year.


SBE maize, sweetcorn

зерновые культуры (пшеница, овес, ячмень), зерно

Pekka was climbing in the lime tree.

a tree on which limes (a kind of lemons) grow

дерево, на котором растут лаймы

a tree with pleasant-smelling yellow flowers


SAE linden

Distinctions in grammar, syntax, punctuation and the general use of the word.

Table 5


Standard BE

Date writing, number/word order.

(Never use only numbers!)



December 3, 2003



March 12, 2003

Use of commas and periods inside/outside quotation marks.

He said, "I love you."

He said, 'I love you'.

Business letter salutations, colons vs commas.

Dear Mr. Jones:

Dear Mr Jones,

'Honorifics': Mr. or Mrs. or Dr. Smith (U.S.) vs Mr or Mrs or Dr Smith (GB)

Mr. Smith

Mrs. Brown

Dr. Wolf

Mr Smith

Mrs Brown

Dr Wolf

Grammar (collective nouns)

Table 6

AE Grammar

BE Grammar

Finnair has a flight to London today.

Finnair have a flight to London today.

England has played well today, even if it lost.

England have played well today, even if they lost.

The Government is acting like itself again.

The Government are acting like themselves again.

Have you gotten your grade in history yet?

Have you got your grade in history yet?

He was in a course. How many were in the course?

He went on a course. How many were on the course?

We lived on Main Street.

We lived in the High Street. (cf. 'street people' ...)

He's in the hospital with a broken leg.

He's in hospital with a broken leg.

I have a car. I got a car. (different implications)

I have got a car.

We weren't able to catch him, catch up with him, catch up [with him].

We weren't able to catch him up.

One was different from/than the other.

One was different from/to the other

Monday through/to Friday

Monday to Friday

on the weekend

at the weekend

The verbs burn, dream, lean, learn, smell, spill, spell and spoil are regular (burned, dreamed)

The verbs burn, dream, lean, learn, smell, spill, spell and spoil are irregular (burnt, dreamt)

The verbs quit, fit and wet are irregular (quit - quit - quit; fit-fit - fit; wet - wet - wet)

The verbs quit, fit and wet are regular

(quitted, fitted)

I'm not hungry. I just had lunch.

I'm not hungry. I've just had lunch.

I didn't tell him about my new job yet.

I haven't told him about my new job yet.

A new meaning of the word; use of the synonymous word.

Table 7

Standard AE

Standard BE

to mail a letter

to post a letter

an art gallery

an art museum









Different terms and expressions, words having stylistic differences

Table 8

Standard AE

Standard BE

rent a car

hire a car

installment plan




sedan/ station wagon

saloon/ estate car

trunk (storage area)


muffler (reduces exhaust noise)







gear lever




red whortleberries

two weeks


freight train

goods train

lawyer, attorney-at-law

barrister vs. solicitor

a round trip ticket

a return ticket


Having analyzed American English and British English, now it is possible to speak about emergence and fixing of the certain average universal English which has incorporated features of different languages. This - instead of American, not British and any another - the option also is "language of the international communication". It, naturally, is easier for understanding. First, it is neutral on coloring, secondly, foreigners speak English more slowly, say sounds separately, and words are accurate. Besides, it is more convenient: it isn't necessary to strain, trying to come nearer to "purely British" or "purely American" pronunciation.

And here America created almost modern language: changes concerned not only English phonetics and lexicon, but also the steadiest part of language - English grammar. Therefore it is quite natural that disputes are conducted generally round two options of English - British and American. The American English call the simplified language

In my opinion, the "correct" language is the British option, more precisely, that its part which is called "the accepted standard". The correct basic English is necessary to understand and other options of language, dialects and features. And that can master them. The person with classical English can adapt in any English-speaking environment.


I. Resources

1. Vereshchagin E.M., Kostomarov V.G. Лингвострановедческая теория слова - М. : Русский язык, 2001.

2. Иванова И. П., Беляева Т. М. Хрестоматия по истории английского языка. -Л., 2005.

3. Брагина А.А. Лексика языка и культура страны в лингвострановедческом аспекте - М. : Русский язык, 2000 .

4. Швейцер А. Д. Английский язык в Америке. - М., 2003.

5. Швейцер А.Д. История американского варианта английского языка: дискуссионные проблемы//Вопросы языкознания. 2000.

6. Ярцева В.Н. Развитие национального литературного английского языка. — М., 2004.

7. http://www.homeenglish.ru

8. English.language.ru›Hot dog!›Перечень отличий от британского

9. otvet.mail.ru “ open questions”79787968

10. en-US — языковой код для Американского английского, определенный стандартами ISO (см. ISO 639-1 и en:ISO 3166-1 alpha-2) и стандартами интернета

11. mobile.wikipedia.org›wiki/Американский Kenyon, Knott, Pronouncing dictionary of American English, Merriam-Webster Inc., Springfield, 1953

II. Encyclopedias and dictionaries

Oshurova I.M. Школьный англо-русский страноведческий словарь. 2 изд. М.: Дрофа, 2002.

Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary. - COBOL, 2007

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