1. Major differences_________________________________________6-7
1.1 Historical context_______________________________________ 8-9
2. Lexical differences between American and British English______10
2.1Classification of UK/ US lexical differences____________________11
2.1.1 House Vocabulary ______________________________________12
2.1.3 Shopping _____________________________________________13
2.1.4 Food _____________________________________________ 13-14
2.1.5 Numbers_____________________________________________ 14
3.1 Grammar ______________________________________________16
3.2 Pronunciation ________________________________________16-18
CONCLUSION ___________________________________________ 19
LIST OF USED SOURSES __________________________________ 22
The aim of this paper is to emphasize the major differences between British and American English both in written and oral communication. Moreover, this research is intended to increase everybody’s interest in studying one or another, and to be aware which English they speak and how correctly or incorrectly they speak it, depending on the purpose of their uttering. As English has become more than a trend nowadays it proved to be very interesting the analysis of what type of English we speak, what type of English we hear around us, in movies, while listening to music or even while chatting online.
This work aims at analyzing reciprocal comprehension between American and British English native speakers. After a brief historical description on the main issues that have led to a differentiation of the two languages, the paper focuses on a description of lexical differences of everyday language that could lead to a complete failure of communication. In particular, the paper reports the results of a survey led among speakers of the two varieties to verify how well American and British speakers understand each other and whether they are aware of the lexical differences.
Key Words: American English, British English, lexical survey, reciprocal
Осы жұмыстың негізгі мақсаты : Британия мен Америкады ағылшын тілінің жазбаша және ауызша қолданылуының айырмашылығын және ерекшелігін түсіндіру.Сонымен қатар, бұл тәжрибелік жұмыс тілге әлемдік қызығұшылықты арттыра отырып, сол тілді дұрыс немесе бұрыс қолдана алатындығын жәнә сөйлеу мәнерін түзету үшін негізге алынған. Қоғамымызда бүгінгі таңда ағылшы тілі ең маңызды бір тенденцияға айналғандықтан, бұл өте қызықты сараптама болды және айналамызда қандай ағылшын типін қолднамыз,киноларда немесе өлең тыңдағанда, тіпті интернеттік желіде қарым- қатынас жасағанда қандай типтегі ағылшын тілін қолданатындығымызды ажырата алу.
Бұл тәжрибелік жұмыс Британия мен Америка халықтарының өзара түсінүшілігі арқасында негізге алынды.
Зерттеу : Осы екі тілдің айырмашылығын табу туралы сұраққа қысқаша зерттеу жұмысынан кейін оған лексикалық ауызекі сөйлеуге акцент жасалынды және тілді ажырата алмау салдарынан қарым- қатынас құралына түп- тамырымен жағалып кетуіне алып келеді.Соған орай, тәжрибелік жұмыста зерттеу жұмыстары жүргізілді.Бұл жерде 2 спикер арасында яғни Америкалық және Британдық спикерлердің бір- бірі мен қарым- қатынас жасауы және бірін –бірі үсінуі және лексикалық айырмашылықты қаншалықты түсіне алатындығын тексеру болды.
Керекті сөздер : Америкалық ағылшын тілі, Британ ағылшын тілі, лексикалық сұрау жәге өзара түсінушілік.
Цель данной работы-подчеркнуть основные различия между британским и американским вариантами английского языка как в письменной, так и устной речи. Кроме того, данное исследование предназначено для повышения всеобщей заинтересованности в изучении одного и другого, и быть в курсе того, как на английском они говорят и как правильно или неправильно они говорят на нем, в зависимости от цели их произношения. Как английский язык стал более чем тенденцией в наше время. Это оказалось очень интересным анализом для меня, на каком типе английского мы говорим, на какомтипе английского языка мы слышим вокруг нас: в фильмах, при прослушивании музыки или даже во время общения онлайн.
Эта работа направлена на анализ взаимного понимания между американским и британским английским с носителями языка. После краткого исторического описания на основные вопросы, которые привели к дифференциации двух языках, в работе сделан акцент на описании лексических различий в повседневном языке, что может привести к полной потери связи. В частности, в работе приведены результаты опроса, лидирует среди спикеров двух сортов, чтобы проверить, насколько хорошо американские и британские дикторы понимают друг друга и лексические различия.
Ключевые слова: американский английский, британский английский, лексических опрос, взаимо понимание
“England and America are two countries separated by a common language”
George Bernard Shaw
This paper aims at analyzing reciprocal comprehension between American and British English native speakers. Separation and commonness are two very useful keywords to describe the relationship between American and British English, which has a dual nature because of the American characteristics of continuity and divergence from its mother country, Great Britain. John Hurt Fisher (2001:59) noticed that “the separation of the American nation from England after 1776 is schizophrenic, characterized on the one hand by violent rejection of English tyranny, as it was regarded by the American revolutionaries and on the other by acute nostalgia for their English culture”.
Nowadays, English is probably the most frequently spoken language in the world, either as an official language, or as a foreign language. Speaking English has become more than a trend, more than a fashion. Relative fluency in English is getting more and more to be a must when it comes to communicating with people belonging to other nations or applying for a job. But the question is: what kind of English do we speak? For English is not at all a homogenous language.
1. Major Differences There are lots of different varieties of English, spoken in different parts of the world, such as Australian English, South African English and Indian English and so on. However, two varieties of English are considered to be the most influential and widespread of all:
Commonwealth English, generally known as British English, mainly spoken on the territory of Great Britain, and American English, the language spoken in the U.S.A. British English is also spoken across the former colonies of the British Empire (Commonwealth), including parts of Africa (Egypt and South Africa), Asia (Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Thailand), as well as in Malta, Australia, New Zealand and Ireland, while American English is widely used in much of the East Asia (Japan, South Korea Taiwan and the Philippines), the Americas (excluding the former British colonies of Jamaica, Canada and the Bahamas) and Africa (Liberia).
A more special case is Canada, where British English is used in spelling, but pronunciation and vocabulary are closer to American English. Among the international organizations, the World Bank, and the Organization of American States tend to use the American form, while other groups and organizations, such as the International Olympic Committee, NATO and the World Trade Organization use British English. As we can see, both British and American English are more or less equally spread throughout the world.
Anyway, the main object of this work is not to establish the winner of a alleged competition between these two variants of English, but to explain the various differences that there are between them, differences that often lead to confusions, some hilarious, other extremely serious. For instance, there was a case of misunderstanding during the Second World War, when, according to Winston Churchill, a simple word, “to table”, caused “a long and even acrimonious argument” between the British and the American. To the former, the word means
“to suggest formally in a meeting something that you would like everyone to discuss”, while for the latter, it has exactly the opposite meaning, that is, “to delay dealing with something such as a proposal until a future time”. It is even believed that the representatives of the two nations resorted to an “interpreter” during the war, to avoid further misunderstandings of this kind.
Of course, it seems at least strange to us, foreign speakers of English, that two peoples speaking the same language can come this. Or are we talking about two languages? Are the differences between British and American English that great? Well, if we were to quote G.B. Shaw, we could say that “England and America are two countries separated by a common language”. As paradoxical as this statement might seem, it describes an obvious truth.
Considering the fact that, for more than 200 years, the two countries have lived separate lives, it is natural that there are significant differences in what concerns not only the language, but also the cultural and social aspects, between the British and the Americans. The English colonists who arrived on today’s territory of the USA, back in the 17th century, had to adapt to the new circumstances, their subsequent evolution was determined by them. They came across a huge area of land, a new type of climate, very different from the one they were accustomed to; moreover, they encountered groups of people they had never before come in contact with, the Native American tribes. Its evolution was also influenced by the fact that, throughout its history, the USA was home to immigrants of a great variety. All this time, the British Isles had their own fate, the language and the habits suffered some transformations, too. But to what extent are British and American English different from one another?
Statistics show that the difference has reached 1% and is constantly growing. Nevertheless, it seems that mass-media, the Internet, and the globalization phenomenon somehow tend to reduce the regional variation.
Although differences do not involve formal terminology, misunderstandings are possible in everyday life language. Therefore, it is important to raise the level of mutual awareness of the differences between the speakers of the two varieties.
After a brief historical description on the main issues that have led to a differentiation of the two languages, the paper will focus on the main differences between the two varieties , to observe the reciprocal rate of comprehension related to everyday life lexicon.
Without considering the numerous dialects existing within the two nations, the differences are set between the standard forms of British and American English. These distinctive features belong especially to the following domains: spelling, semantics, grammar, and pronunciation.
1.1. Historical Context
The first divergences between the English language used in Great Britain and the variety used in the United States have a historical and nationalistic origin. The American Revolution gave strength to the necessity for a radical divergence between the new world and the mother country. In a letter to John Waldo from Monticello on August 16, 1813, Thomas
Jefferson wrote: “the new circumstances under which we are placed call for new words, new phrases and for the transfer of old words to new objects an American dialect will therefore be formed”.
The American lexicographer and educator Noah Webster had already published the first American English dictionary in 1806, discussing the necessity for an American language, because England was too far away to be used as a model. The passion for complete independence from all English authorities culminated in his ‘Compendious Dictionary of English Language’ in which he proposed the creation of an independent dialect to accommodate the written language to the spoken language.
One of the main reasons for a change was that the usage of a new language would have been useful for the affirmation o8-f a new national identity. The founding fathers’ anti-English sentiment had even proposed the adaption of another language. William Gifford (in Mencken 1921:45), the first editor of the quarterly review, affirmed that there was a plan for the abandonment of English as the National language during the devolution, to substitute it with Hebrew. An American chronicler, Charles Astor, proposed to adopt Greek.
At the very beginning of the American conquest, the settlers used their own dialects, some of which still influence American nowadays.
In Albion’s Seed, David Hackett Fisher (1989) analysed the parallels between the British area from which most immigrants came and the areas in America in which they settled. In November 1620, a group of thirty-five members of the Puritan English Separatist Church arrived in the United States. Prevented by storms by reaching Virginia, they landed at Cape Cod Bay foundering Plymouth. These settlers came from Essex, Kent, London, bringing their non-rhotic accent in New England and moving towards the Great Lakes. Because of the relative isolation of the areas, the original accent is still very influent nowadays.
On the opposite, the southerners moved towards the Gulf Coast and the Midlands, going towards the western area.
The Chesapeake area and Virginia were settled by forty thousand cavaliers escaping from the Long Parliament and the puritan role. Most of them came from London and stayed in touch with England being influenced by all changes of the English dialect.
Delaware Valley and Pennsylvania were populated by 23000 Quakers whose pronunciation was established in England before any changes occurred to English after the 18th century.
Western Africans arrived in America around the year 1619. Slaves spoke dozens of different American dialects and languages but slave traders used pidgins as the most practical solution to communicate with them.
In the early seventeenth century, the Dutch West Company settled a trading post along the Hudson River. Even though the colony did not survive into the 18th century, traces of it were left in some topographical features such as ‘Brooklyn’ (named after the Dutch Breukelen) and ‘Wall Street’ (from wal, the palisades erected against Indian raiders).
In the late 17th century, a French community settled in Louisiana. Although the British bought the colony in 1803, French influence is still strong nowadays in this area.
During the 18th century, a great wave of about 275000 immigrants from the border regions led to a blur of the regional dialects; and during the 19th century, many Europeans came from the failed 1848 revolutions, poverty, and famine, especially Irish, Germans, and Italians. Since 1970, most immigrants come from Asia and South Central America.
Nowadays, despite the divergence due to the gain of independence and
the prominence of the United States, the separation between the two cultures is not complete.
2. Lexical Differences between American and British English
“In words as fashions the same rule will hold Alike fantastic if too new or old
be not the first by whom the new are tired nor yet the last to lay the old aside”
Alexander Pope: An Essay on Criticism ii 133-136. When American and British people meet, the first obvious difference is their accent, the pronunciation of words. However, at a deeper and less apparent level, vocabulary differences give the right to treat the two varieties as two completely different languages. Sometimes, words are used in different ways to name the same thing, such as for the American ‘railroad tie’ and the British ‘railway sweeper’. Sometimes, two different words are used but their meaning is quite obvious, such as for the American ‘luggage’ and the British ‘baggage’. In other cases, some words that are common in one place are rare in the other, such as the words ‘soppy’ or ‘row’: although they are listed in American dictionaries, they are very uncommon in American speech but they are quite well known in the UK. Some words retained in Great Britain have been dropped by Americans, such as ‘fortnight’ and ‘constable’ and many no longer used in British are retained in American, such as ‘mad’ (in the sense of angry), ‘fall’, ‘sick’, etc.
Of course, language is not totally imitated from one generation to another. Youth can be one of the most important social groups in language evolution, observing that younger people are more likely to experiment with language, by producing slang, deviant spellings, idioms and expressions, some of which eventually become part of the standard. Isolation also contributes to the differences: some dialects are separated by geographical features that naturally separate people. Reciprocal comprehension is favoured by the spread of the media, although American films are more likely to be exported in the UK rather than the reverse case.
People who decide to learn English as a foreign language can decide to choose either an American English centre or a British one, basing their choice on their needs. However, schools and universities usually teach British English. Only in recent years, some schools and universities include an analysis of the differences between the two ‘Englishmen’s because of the increasing possibilities of contact with the two varieties. Many internet websites have sections concerning this subject, to which people can contribute giving their own testimonies to the classification and description of the differences.
2.1. Classification of UK/US Lexical Differences
As previously said, most differences can be found in ordinary life especially in oral speech. Many online sources offer useful comparisons between British and
American lexicon, such as the Macmillan English Dictionary Magazine 2004 and James Smith’s American to British Dictionary, both of which have been very useful for this work. However, the problem is that before dealing directly with speakers of the other variety, some people do not even think that there are any divergences, apart from pronunciation.
In particular, attention must be paid to false cognates. For instance, British English ‘suspenders’ are called ‘garters’ in US English, which use ‘suspenders for the British ‘braces’. This also occurs for American ‘shorts’ that are British ‘underpants’; American ‘pants’ are British ‘trousers’. Naturally, awareness of lexical differences is not only for sake of linguistic curiosity: globalization has increased the possibility of interaction between speakers of the two varieties, and thus the issue has urged the attention of professional linguists and translators, due to a considerable demand of the market. The following sections will briefly give a description of lexical differences in the fields of housing, transport, shopping, food, and numerical systems, as part of everyday language that could be quite confusing.
2.1.1. House Vocabulary
As regards house terminology, there is a straightforward translation from a variety to the other for some terms, such as the American ‘apartment house’, ‘condominium’, ‘duplex’, and ‘row house’, which in British are respectively a ‘block of flats’, ‘owner-occupied flat’, ‘semi-detached house’, and ‘terraced house’. In other cases, there may be no exact British equivalent for the American term, as for ‘brownstone’, used for a house made of red-brown stone, typical of nineteenth century cities in eastern US.
As regards rooms, American and British English have many words in common. However, Americans use the euphemism ‘bathroom’ as a polite synonym for the word ‘toilet’, because many Americans consider the term ‘toilet’ indelicate. The British ‘sitting room’ sounds rather old fashioned to American ears, as they always call it a ‘living room’. The word ‘cupboard’ is used with different meanings in the two varieties: the British ‘cupboard’ can be used to storey all sorts of things whereas Americans use it only in kitchens. Americans would be very surprised to be told to put their clothes in a ‘cupboard’, since they use a ‘closet’. Many differences concern kitchen utensils. Americans use ‘can openers’, ‘electrical outlets’, ‘dishpans’, ‘stoves’, and ‘waste baskets’, while British use ‘tin openers’, ‘power points’, ‘washing up bowls’, ‘cookers’, and ‘waste bins’. To wash and dry dishes, American uses the expression ‘to do the dishes’, while in British it is ‘to do the washing up’. Most furniture items have the same names in the two varieties; however, the MED Dictionary reports that some differences can create great confusion: To an American a bureau is a piece of furniture with drawers for holding things such as towels or items of clothing; British use the expression ‘a chest of drawers’. To a British a bureau is a piece of furniture, but with a top part that opens and makes it a writing table. An American would call this a writing table. In American English, a cot is a light narrow bed that can be folded up, for example for camping. In fact, the British call this type of be a camp bed. To speakers of British English a cot is a small bed for a baby with tall sides that have bars, something Americans refer to as a crib. Moreover, tourists have to deal with level numbering differences in the US and UK. In many countries, Great Britain included, the expression ‘first floor’ is used to indicate the level above the entrance floor, while the entrance level is designated as the ‘ground floor’. American usage labels the entrance level as the ‘first floor’, thus ‘ground floor’ is not considered. To adapt to tourists or people used to the British level system, many American buildings now use the expression ‘ground floor’ or another name for the entrance level.
Many differences between American and British English are related to transport vocabulary. Whereas in British people take a ‘couch’, Americans say they would take a ‘bus’; Americans take ‘subways’, whereas in Great Britain this means of transport is called an ‘underground’. Americans would go by train or ‘railroad’, which is the American equivalent of the British term ‘railway’. ‘Baggage car’, ‘café car’, ‘one-way ticket’,’ round.-trip ticket’, ‘railroad’ are the American equivalents of ‘baggage van’, ‘buffet car’, ‘single ticket’, ‘return ticket’, and ‘railway carriage’ in British. Other vehicle differences are the American ‘motorcycle’, ‘station wagon’, and ‘truck’ against the British ‘motorbike’, ‘estate (car)’, and ‘lorry’. Reminding that British people also drive on the opposite side to Americans, in the UK, the term ‘outside lane’ refers to the higher speed passing lane closest to the centre of the road, while the term ‘inside lane’ refers to the lane closer to the edge. In American English these terms have the opposite meaning.
As regards other street objects, ‘parking meter’, ‘pedestrian’, and ‘traffic’ are shared by the two varieties. However, Americans use the terms ‘crosswalk’, ‘gas station’, ‘overpass’, ‘sidewalk’, and ‘stoplight’ and British ‘pedestrian crossing/zebra crossing’, ‘petrol station’, ‘flyover’, ‘pavement’, and ‘traffic lights’ respectively, only to mention the most evident differences.
Going shopping might be quite confusing in the two countries if some lexical differences are unknown. First of all, the nouns ‘shop’ and ‘store’ are used somewhat differently in American and British English. In general, Americans use ‘store’ the way British use 'shop’. Most British ‘shops’ would be called ‘stores’ in the US where the noun ‘shop’ is more often used to mean a small retail establishment, such as an ‘antique shop’ or a ‘gift shop’. British go to the ‘chemist’s’, while Americans go to a ‘drugstore’ or a ‘pharmacy’, where they can buy medicines and other items, such as body care products, stationary, and cigarettes. To describe clothing, many differences have a on to one equivalent,
such as the American ‘bathrobe’, ‘nightgown’, ‘sneakers’, and ‘tuxedo’, which are ‘dressing gown’, ‘nightdress’, ‘trainers’, and ‘dinner jacket’ in British. In other cases, the same word has a different meaning: the word ‘jumper’ exists in both American and British English, but British use the word ‘jumper’ for knitted clothing that covers the top half of the body whereas for Americans it is a sleeveless dress worn over shirt or a blouse. The British ‘vest’ is an American ‘undershirt’, and what Americans mean with ‘vest’, is the British ‘waistcoat’.
Recipes demonstrate how many differences in food and cooking terminology there are. For instance, a British ‘biscuit’ is an American ‘cookie’, and American ‘biscuit’ is a British ‘scone’. Also some fruit and vegetables terms are different, such as the American ‘eggplants’ and ‘blueberries’ which in British are ‘aubergines’ and ‘bilberries’. Furthermore, American and British use the same words for most categories of meat as beef, pork, and lamb; the differences are for specific meat dishes, as the MED explains:
For example, what the British call a joint (a large piece of meat, such as a leg of lamb or loin of pork, cooked in an oven and eaten with potatoes and other vegetables) is known as a roast in the U.S. Most Americans would be shocked to hear that the Sunday joint is a British family tradition. To Americans, a joint is not something that people roast, but something that they smoke: a marijuana cigarette. Some others are ‘chop’, ‘ground meat’, and ‘tenderloin steak’ which in
British are called ‘cutlet’, ‘minced meat’, and ‘fillet steak’. As regards seafood, what Americans call ‘shrimp’ are ‘prawns’ in Britain; other examples are the American ‘canned tuna’, ‘crawfish’, and ‘fish sticks’ that for the British are ‘tinned tuna’, ‘crayfish’, and ‘fish fingers’.
Finally, the system of saying and writing numbers is a little different. The
British insert ‘and’ before the tens and the units, as in ‘two hundred and fifty ’. Americans are more likely to read numbers like 1,456 as ‘fourteen fifty-six’ instead of ‘one thousand, four hundred and fifty-six’, unless they are referring to years. Also monetary vocabulary is often said differently. For amounts over the dollar, an American would say both dollars and cents or drop both denominations as in ‘three twenty’ or ‘three dollars and twenty cents’ for $3.20. In Great Britain the form ‘three pounds twenty’ is the most heard. The British slang form ‘quid’ is a sort of equivalent of the American ‘buck’ for the round amounts, as in 50 ‘quid’, or fifty ‘bucks’.
Nowadays we are assisting to a certain change, as the American variety
is not taking over, but at least resulting more known by British English speakers as a result of globalization and the spread of new media. The MED has noticed that: While American and British English show some differences in vocabulary related to shopping and other common activities, all evidence suggests that the two varieties of the language are moving closer together. The movement is mostly eastward. Each year, more words that were once exclusively American are found in the spoken and written language of both Britain and the U.S. The next session will attempt to verify this hypothesis through a linguistic survey proposed to American and British native speakers Positive results have been gained principally by the part of the sample which spe_cified to have been in direct contact with the other country, or living in the New Hampshire-New England area, which still shares vocabulary with the former motherland.
The general thought that British have more knowledge of American lexicon than vice versa is very evident. British chose more correct answers than Americans. This is the case of items like ‘caretaker/janitor’, ‘waistcoat/vest’, ‘zebra crossing/crosswalk’, ‘nappy/diaper’, ‘lorry/ truck’, ‘bunch/ pigtail’, ‘braces/suspenders’, ‘pavement/side walk’, ‘clothes horse/drying rack’, ‘fruit machine/slot machine’, ‘rubber/eraser’, ‘quid/ ‘bucks’’, ‘dressing gown/robe, bathrobe’, ‘cling film/plastic wrap’, ‘serviette/napkin’, ‘noughts and crosses/tic tac toe’, ‘estate car/station wagon’, ‘trolley/shopping cart’, ‘aubergine/eggplant’, and ‘coach/ bus’. It must be said that in some cases, the American variant uses
expressions that are quite intuitive to understand such as ‘crosswalk’, ‘suspenders’, ‘drying rack’, ‘slot machine’, ‘overpass’, and ‘shopping cart’. Their British equivalents are not so self-evident.
There are many spelling differences between the two varieties. The most important and frequent are the following:
American English British English
to inclose to enclose
to insure to ensure
In American English, -e, -ue, -me are dropped at the end of nouns:
There are also some individual words which the Americans spell differently from the British:
American English British English
Basically, these kinds of differences refer to tense formation, subject-verb agreement and the use of present perfect.
a) Form of past tense and past participle
In American English, the –ed form is used with some verbs that in British English are irregular, such as to learn (learned in American, learnt in British), to dream
(dreamed/dreamt), to spell (spelled/spelt) etc.
Other verbs, regular in British English, are used in the American variant with irregular forms. For example, verbs like to light, to forecast, to knit, tend to receive, at past tense and present participle, the irregular forms lit, forecast, knit, instead of lighted, forecasted, knitted.
However, this is not a general rule, because these irregular forms are also encountered in British English. Another peculiar aspect in American English is the use of certain forms of past participle, such as gotten, proven, shrunken, boughten, which are considered very oldfashioned, or simply not used by British speakers.
b) Subject-verb agreement
In British English, collective nouns (e.g. team, police, army, audience, staff, company,government etc.) are often followed by a plural verb, while in American English, these are always followed by a singular. For instance:
Br E: Manchester have won the match.
Am E: Manchester has won the match.
c) Use of the present perfect
When referring to an action which has begun in the past, but is going on in the present, speakers of British English use the present perfect, while Americans tend to use the past simple tense. For example:
Br E and Am E: John has already finished his work.
Am: John already finished his work.
There are some pronunciation rules which are different in British and American
English. The most important of all are those concerning stress, some vowel ounds, the voiced t and vowels followed by an ‘r’.
American and British speakers have different ways of emphasizing a certain syllable when they utter certain words of two syllables, such as:
word British English American English
ballet [`bælei] [bæ`lei]
debris [`debri:] [d_`bri]
Similar differences can be encountered in words like garage, gourmet, paté, halet etc.In words with more than two syllables, Americans tend to emphasize the end. For example:
word British English American English
secretary [`sekr_tri] [`sekr_teri]
preparatory [pripær_tri] [pripær_t_ri]
Other words that stick to this rule are conservatory, inflammatory, territory etc; an interesting case is the word laboratory, which is pronounced [l_`b_r(_)tri] in British and [`læbr_t_:ri] in American English. Another distinguishing element for American English is the reduction of syllables in words ending in –ile, such as mobile, missile, docile etc.
word British English American English
hostile [`h_stail] [`h_:stl]
fragile [`fræd_ail] [`fræd_l]
b) The vowel sounds [a:] and [æ]
The British [a:] is pronounced [æ] in American English before fricatives (f, s, ), nasals (m, n, _) and the consonant l followed by another consonant. For example:
word British English American English
dance [d_:ns] [dæns]
after [`_:ft_] [`æft_r]
can’t [k_:nt] [kænt]
c) The sounds [ju:] and [u:]
There are some words in which Britons say [ju:] and Americans say [u:].
Word British English American English
Tune [tju:n] [tu:n]
Tulip [`tju:lip] [`tu:lip]
d) Vowel sounds [_] and [_]
Americans usually pronounce an open o before the p, t, k and l consonants, instead of the British darker sound.
word British English American English
hot [h_t] [h_:t]
body [`b_di] [`b_:di]
problem [`pr_bl_m] [`pr_:bl_m]
e) The voiced t This is also an American invention; it is a t that sounds very much like d. It is heard when it occurs between two vowels (e.g. better, butter, letter, matter etc), between a voiced vowel and a consonant (e.g. plenty, winter, bounty, painted, quantity etc), or between two unstressed syllables
f) Vowels followed by [r]
These are called rhotic or r-coloured; the [r] is not pronounced in British English, but many American speakers pronounce it.
word British English American English
poor [pu_] [pu_r]
here [hi_] [hi(_)r]
dirt [d_:t] [d_rt]
On the whole, these would be the main differences between British and American
English; as expected, there are others, as well, but they are subject to future research. On the other hand, however different these two varieties might seem, here is only one English language, which is presently spoken by more than a third of the world’s population. Choosing what variant to speak remains a matter of preference, but a good speaker of English should know how to juggle with both or at least should know how to recognize them. Perhaps, at a certain time in the future, the differences will be erased and we will all speak one single language. That common language might as well be English; for the time being, English is a universal language that helps communication between peoples become easier. American or British, what difference does it make?
Language controls the way of thinking, and people from different cultures have different views of the world imposed on them by language. To say it in Sapir’s (1929:69) words: No two languages are ever sufficiently similar to be considered representing the same reality. The worlds in which different societies live are distinct works, not merely the same worlds with different labels.
Therefore, it can be said that only a direct contact with the other language
or a specific study on the differences can improve mutual intelligibility between the two varieties of English, admitting and respecting their differences.
Map of USA
Map of UK
LIST OF USED SOURSES
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