BRITISH AND AMERICAN ENGLISH
Kelyanova E.F., a teacher of English,
School №3, Temirtau
English is spoken in many countries either as the mother tongue or as a second language. That is why instead of «English» there are a lot of «Englishes» - variations of the language. In this article it will be focused on the two mostly commonly used versions of English- British and American English.
British and American English are two main variants of English.
American English begins its history at the beginning of the 17-th century when first English- speaking settlers began to settle on the Atlantic coast of the American continent. The language which they brought from England was the language spoken in England during the reign of Elizabeth. In the earliest period the task of Englishmen was to find names for places, animals, plants, customs that they came across on the American continent. They took some of names from languages spoken by the local population - Indians.
Besides Englishmen, settlers from other countries came to America, and English-speaking settlers mixed with them and borrowed some words from their languages.
The second period of American English history begins in the 19-th century. Immigrants continued to come from Europe to America. When large groups of immigrants from the same country came to America, some of their words were borrowed into English. Italians brought with them a style of cooking, which became widely spread and such words as: «pizza», «spaghetti» came into English. From the great number of German-speaking settlers the following words were borrowed into English: «delicatessen», «lager», «hamburger», «noodle», «schnitzel» and many others.
During the second period of American English history there appeared quite a number of words and word-groups which were formed in the language due to the new political system, liberation of America from the British colonialism, its independence.
There are some differences between British and American English in the usage of prepositions, such as prepositions with dates, days of the week. BE requires «оn» /I start my holiday on Friday/, in American English there is no preposition /I start my vacation Friday/. In BE we use «by day», «by night» «at night», in AE the corresponding forms are «days» and «nights». In BE we say «at home», in AE - «home» is used. In BE we say «a quarter to five», in AE «a quarter of five». In BE we say «in the street», in AE - «on the street». In BE we say, «to chat to somebody», in AE «to chat with somebody». In BE we say «different to something», in AE - «different from something».
There are also units of vocabulary which are different while denoting the same notions, e.g. BE - «trousers», AE -«pants»; in BE «pants» are «трусы» which in AE is «shorts». While in BE «shorts» are outwear. This can lead to misunderstanding.
Differences in the organization of education lead to different terms. BE «public school» is in fact a private school. It is a fee-paying school not controlled by the local education authorities. AE «public school» is a free local authority school. BE «elementary school» is AE «grade school» BE «secondary school» is AE «high school».
Differences of spelling.
The reform in the English spelling for American English was introduced by the famous American lexicographer Noah Webster who published his first dictionary in 1806.
Those of his proposals which were adopted in the English spelling are as follows:
• a) the deletion of the letter «u» in words ending in «our», e.g. honor, favor;
• b) the deletion of the second consonant in words with double consonants, e.g. traveler;
• c) the replacement of «re» by «ег» in words of French origin, e.g. theater, center;
• d) the replacement of «се» by «se» in words of Romanic origin, e.g. defense, offense;
Differences in pronunciation:
In American English we have r-coloured fully articulated vowels, in the combinations: ar, er, ir, or, ur, our, etc. In BE before fricatives and combinations with fricatives «а» is pronounced as /a:/, e.g. class, dance, answer, fast, etc.
But these differences in pronunciation do not prevent Englishmen and American from communicating with each other easily and cannot serve as a proof that British and American are different languages. The few differences that exist between British and American English tend rather to enrich communication than slow it down.
And what kind of English should be taught - American or British?
The answer to this question depends on why you do need a language. If you're going to go to work or study in America, it would be very useful to get acquainted with the peculiarities of American English. If you are just starting to learn the language - start with the basics. You need to get at least a minimal vocabulary, learn to construct sentences and express their thoughts. If you are in possession of a good British English come to America, you will be understood.
And in conclusion, I would like to say the words of George Bernard Shaw: “The United States and the United Kingdom are two countries divided by a common language"