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English Lexicology (IV)
Contents
10. Changes in Meaning
 11. American English

To be continued
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 Vocabulary
is the most unstable element of a
language as it is undergoing constant changes
both in form and content. Comparatively, the
content is even more unstable than the form.
 This chapter will deal with the major patterns that
changes in meaning follow and the causes of
changes.
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10.1 Types of changes
 Extension / Generalization
 lady
 Economy
 Orientation
 influence
 holidays
 slogan
 Scene
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10.1 Types of changes
 Narrowing / Specialization
 Deer
 girl
 garage
 liquor

instant reply
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10.1 Types of changes
 Elevation / Amelioration
Sth. Low, humble, unpleasant------sth. Noble,
agreeable, pleasant
 Marshall
 Shrewd
 Angel
 Minister
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10.1 Types of changes
 Degradation / Degeneration
 Silly
 Villain,
boor, churl
 Cunning
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10.1 Types of changes
 Degradation / Degeneration
 Intensifiers
terrific, fantastic, marvelous, splendid,
magnificent, wonderful, superb, tremendous,
overpowering, fabulous……
 horrible, outrageous, awful, dreadful….

 Weakening
of meaning of intensifiers
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10.1 Types of changes
 Transference
 Subjectiveness
and objectiveness
He is doubtful of success.
 The future looks doubtful.
 …an honourable gentleman
 …an honourable invitation

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10.1 Types of changes
 Transference
 subjectiveness
objectiveness
hateful: a hateful job, a hateful crime
 painful:a painful experience, a painful task
 pompous language/style/manner
 a pompous man
 solemn music/oath/duty
 a solemn judge

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10.1 Types of changes
 Transference
 Subjectiveness
and objectiveness depend on the
collocation
a suspicious character/truth/condition
 a suspicious look/glance/attitude
 a dubious answer
 a dubious look

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10.1 Types of changes
 Transference
Subject
respectful
Object
respectable
imaginative
unexpressive
contemptuous
imaginary
inexpressible
contemptible
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10.2 Causes of changes
 Social development
 Pen
 Manuscript
 Straw
 Atom
 Computer
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10.2 Causes of changes
 Class reason
 Language
is just like a mirror, reflecting
everything that exists in human society. Naturally,
it records the speech and attitude of different
social class.
Villain, clown, churl
 Democracy, revolution, liberalism,
communism, landlord, trade union

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10.2 Causes of changes

National Psychology

Some words or expressions shows the national
psychology, especially a feeling of dislike, contempt,
irony towards other nationalities.





To take French leave
Spanish athlete
Irish bull
To talk Dutch, Dutch comfort, Dutch bargain, in
Dutch
An American will go to hell for a bag of coffee.
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10.2 Causes of changes
 Racial discrimination or prejudices
 Black
Black Power, Black is beautiful, Black
English, Black history
 Negro
 African Americans, Afro-Americans
 Native Americans (Indians)

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10.2 Causes of changes
 Sexism
 Man:
chairman, salesman, spaceman…
 Poet-poetess, hero-heroine, student-girl student,
novelist-lady novelist, doctor-woman doctor,
president-female president…
 Chairperson, businessperson, draftsperson..
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10.2 Causes of changes
 Social values
 Euphemism:
The substitution of a mild, indirect,
or vague expression for one that may be
offensive, disagreeable, harsh, or blunt.
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10.2 Causes of changes
 Social values
 garbage
collector------sanitation engineer
 gardener-----landscape architect
 servant----domestic engineer
 hairdresser---beautician
 old people----senior citizens, mature people,
pensioner
 war----conflict
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10.2 Causes of changes
 Social values
 the
poor people----the disadvantage, the
underprivileged

“I used to think I was poor. Then they told
me I wasn’t poor, I was needy, I was
deprived. Then they told me underprivileged
was overused. I was disadvantaged. I still
don’t have a dime. But I have a great
vocabulary.”
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10.2 Causes of changes
 Linguistic factors
 Borrowing
pig, cow, sheep-----pork, beef, mutton
 deer-----animal, beast

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10.2 Causes of changes
 Linguistic factors
 Simplifying
as a matter of course-----of course
 above all things-----above all
 God gives you a good morning---Good
morning
 private soldier----private
 general officer----general
 periodical paper----periodical
 fall of leaves----fall

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Chapter 11 American English
 In
this chapter, we aim to understand the
characteristics of American English, to
distinguish the differences between American
English and British English. It is a laborious job,
while it is important that American English be
addressed in English learning.
American English or British English?
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
Questions





What is American English?
Is it American English or British English we are speaking
as non-native speakers?
Is there essential difference between British English and
American English?
What are the major differences between them?
As non-native speakers, what is the significance for us to
distinguish the differences between them?
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11.1 English as an international language

Users of English



English as a native language: Britain, the United States,
Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the West Indies
and South Africa.
ESL: India, Pakistan, Nigeria, Kenya, and many other
countries.
EFL: Large numbers of people in the world speak and
write English as a foreign language for the purpose of
science, technology, and international communication. It
has become a universal language of international
communication.
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11.1 English as an international language
 Varieties of English
 As
an international language, the English
language has a number of varieties.
British English
 American English
 Australian English
 Canadian English
 Singapore English
 ………

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11.1 English as an international language

Two major varieties of English



British English (BrE) and American English(AmE)
These two varieties differ in certain details, but there is
no essential difference between them because of the
similarities of the basic word stock, the basic grammar
and the basic phonetic system. English is unmistakable
one language, with two major national dialects.
There is no superiority or inferiority as regards BrE and
AmE.
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11.2 Growth of American English

Colonial America


The establishment in 1607 of the settlement which the
explorers called Jamestown marked the beginning of
British colonization in America.
By 1732 the original thirteen English colonies had been
set up. The language the early immigrants brought with
them was Elizabethan English, the language spoken by
Shakespeare, Milton and Bunyan, which belonged to the
early stage of Modern English.
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11.2 Growth of American English
 Colonial America
 The

original thirteen colonies
Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, South
Carolina, Georgia, Pennsylvania, New York,
New Jersey, Delaware, Massachusetts,
Rhode Island, New Hampshire and
Connecticut.
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11.2 Growth of American English

After independence


Following American independence, famous persons like
Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and
Noah Webster begin to consider that the country should
have a language of its own.
The independence led to the emergence a sense of
nationality. In the field of language, this patriotic feeling
was manifested by the argument for the recognition of
the American variety or standard of English.
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11.2 Growth of American English

After independence


In 1806, Noah Webster first used “American
English”.Webster proclaimed that his countrymen had
not only the right to adopt new words but were obliged to
modify the language to suit the new circumstances,
geographical and political, in which they were placed.
Many great writers, such as Washington Irving, Walt
Whitman, Ralph W. Emerson, mark Twain, and O. Henry
helped to promote the development of the American
English.
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11.2 Growth of American English

After independence


American English has developed a character of its own,
reflecting the life and the physical and social
environment of the American people.
The Americans invented large numbers of new words to
meet their various needs.



representative, assembly, president, Congress,
senator…
department store, telephone, lynch
to advocate, to antagonize, to demoralize, to donate
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11.2 Growth of American English

The future of American English


Since the Second World War, the United States has
become literally the leader of the western world,
American English has been developing and changing.
There is no doubt that American English will enrich the
English language greatly.
With the rapid development of modern mass media and
the common needs of economic, cultural and political
exchanges, American English will be more widely used in
the world than British English.
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11.3 Differences between BrE and AmE
 Major differences
 Differences
in grammar
 Differences in spelling
 Differences in pronunciation
 Differences in vocabulary
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11.3 Differences between BrE and AmE
 Differences in grammar
 On
the whole BrE and AmE use the same
grammar system. Differences in grammar are few
in number and trifling in nature. However, it is
important for non-native speakers to understand
these distinctions.
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11.3 Differences between BrE and AmE
 Differences in grammar
 Differences
in prepositions
Mary aims to become a writer. AmE
 Mary aims at becoming a writer.
BrE
 Please fill out the form. AmE
 Please fill in the form.
BrE
 At weekends I like to …..
BrE
 On weekends I like to……
AmE

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11.3 Differences between BrE and AmE
 Differences in grammar
Differences in prepositions
BrE
AmE
different from…
different than…
talk to…
talk with…
at college
in college
late for work
late to work
the key of the door
the key to the door
five minutes past six five minutes after six

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11.3 Differences between BrE and AmE

Differences in grammar

Differences in prepositions








Let’s stay home.
Let’s stay at home.
The new term begins September 1.
The new term begins on September 1.
I’ll see you Sunday.
I’ll see you on Sunday.
We’re trying to plan our future.
We’re trying to plan for the future.
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11.3 Differences between BrE and AmE
 Differences in grammar
 The
use of subjunctive
I suggest that the meeting should be
postponed.
 I suggest that the meeting be postponed.
 It is important that the motion should be
placed on the agenda.
 It is important that the motion be placed on
the agenda.

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11.3 Differences between BrE and AmE
 Differences in grammar
 The
use of articles
Today is July first, nineteen ninety-seven.
 Today is July the first, nineteen ninetyseven.
 My uncle had the flu last year.
 My uncle had flu last year.
 It’s in bad condition.
 It’s in a bad condition.

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11.2 Differences between BrE and AmE
 Differences in spelling
-re
-er
BrE
Centre, theatre
AmE
Center, theater
-ise -ize
Realise, modernize Realize, modernize
-ce
Defence, practice
Defense, practise
-our -or
Favour, labour
Favor, labor
e-
Enquire, enclose
Inquire, inclose
-se
i-
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11.2 Differences between BrE and AmE
 Differences in spelling
-gue -g
BrE
Catalogue, dialogue
AmE
Catalog, dialog
-il
Travelling, jeweller
Traveler, jeweler
-l
-mme -m
Programme, gramme Program, gram
-xion -ction
Connextion,
inflexion
Omission of Axe, judgement
silent -e
English lexicology (III)
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inflection
Ax, judgment
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11.2 Differences between BrE and AmE
 Differences in spelling
BrE
cheque
AmE
check
draught
draft
plough
plow
cigarette
cigaret
tyre
tire
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11.2 Differences between BrE and AmE
 Difference in vocabulary
BrE
AmE
flat
lift
torch
Tin
note
apartment
elevator
flashlight
can
bill
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11.2 Differences between BrE and AmE
 Difference in vocabulary
BrE
AmE
silencer
lorry
windscreen
sweets
luggage
muffler
truck
windshield
candy
baggage
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11.2 Differences between BrE and AmE
 Difference in vocabulary
 Three
terms-----two semesters or four quarters
 The first year, the second year, the third year----freshman, sophomore, junior, senior
 Post-graduate-----graduate
 Staff-----faculty
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11.3 Differences between BrE and AmE
 Difference in vocabulary
 Billion
 First
floor
 Public school(BrE)------private school(AmE)
 Public school (AmE)----Council school (BrE)
 Cupboard
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11.3 Differences between BrE and AmE
 Differences in pronunciation
 See
page 199-200
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