Differences between American English & British English Lily Chang 97501015 English Department Outline A. Differences between A.E. and B.E. • Spelling • Vocabulary • Grammar • Pronunciation & accent • Speech B. Backgrounds leading to the differences • Geographic separation • National identity • Spelling reform C. Conclusion & future development Differences between A.E. and B.E. “The Americans are identical to the British in all respects except, of course, language .” ~ Oscar Wilde Differences: spelling Examples (A.E. / B.E.): • color / colour • traveling / travelling • theater / theatre • check / cheque • tire / tyre AE is more economically and phonetically spelled. Exception (A.E. / B.E.): skillful / skilful Differences: vocabulary -1 Examples: • potato chips / crisps • police patrol car / panda car • gasoline (gas) / petrol • diaper / nappy • elevator / lift • intercity bus / coach • first floor / ground floor • eraser / rubber Differences: vocabulary -2 The differences can sometimes cause embarrassment and even misunderstanding! Examples: • “pants” – “trousers” in A.E. BUT “underwear” in B.E. • Date: A.E.12/21/2012 B.E.21/12/2012 • Number: “billion” A.E. a thousand million B.E. a million million Expiration: 9/1/2013 Differences: vocabulary -3 Slangs & Dialogue restaurant to boy called Tom went to a noshery One day, a annoying blighter have a nosh-up with his parents because the nosh food there meal was fantastic. Because he liked to have banger sausage very much, he argued to his parents. sausage in this noshery!” restaurant Tom: “I’d like to try all kinds of banger nonsense It’s too expensive to do that!” Parents: “Don’t talk balls! fair Tom: “Why not? It’s not cricket! My friend, Tony, has tried all of them! Not cricket, not cricket, not cricket!!!” fair fair fair annoyed Shut up Parents: “(narked) Belt up! I’ve heard that, too. But do you know that contributed a lot to his weight, too?” Differences: grammar Use of subjunctive AE: It is important that she be told. BE: It is important that she is told. Quotation marks AE: “Do you want to have lunch together in the new cafe called ‘Light House’ with me?” BE: ‘Do you want to have lunch together in the new café called “Light House” with me?’ Differences: pronunciation & accent -1 Stress: stress on different syllables (A.E. / B.E.): garage / garage advertisement / advertisement stress on different vowels (A.E. / B.E.): vase [veɪs]/ vase [vɑːz] leisure [ˈliː.ʒɚ] / leisure [ˈleʒ.ər] Retroflex (A.E. / B.E.): clerk [klɑːk] / clerk [klɜːrk] Differences: pronunciation & accent -1 Accent:” How British People Sound to Americans” Differences: speech A.E.: more general B.E.: care about nuances of meaning • Reason: British people’s emphasis on social status A.E.: more hyperbole B.E.: more understatement • Example: A.E. grab some food • Reason: Americans are more influenced by exaggerations of the media. A.E.: disobey grammatical rules more often B.E.: obey grammatical rules • Example: AE: “author” a book Backgrounds leading to the differences Background: geographic separation The populations in the US and UK are divided. Americans and British people have interactions with different people. Noah Webster: “These causes will produce in the course of time a language in North America as different from the future language of England as the modern Dutch, Danish and Swedish are from German or from one another.” Background: National identity Noah Webster’s “American Dictionary of the English Language” • Purpose: to have cultural independence from Britain • Principle: Words should be spelled more like they sound. • Reform of English spelling: 10 classes "-our" to "-or" (colour color) "-re" to "-er" (centre center) dropping final "k" (publick public) changing "-ence" to "-ense" (defence defense) use single "l" in inflected forms (travelled traveled) use double "l" in some words (fulfil fulfill) "-or" to "-er" (visiter visitor) drop final "e" (axe ax) use single "f" at the end (plaintiff plaintif) ~ failed "-ise" to "-ize" (realise realize) Background: spelling reform Background: start from the mid-1870s • The American Philosophical Association adopted 11 new spellings. • ar, catalog, definit, gard, giv, hav, infinit, liv, tho, thru, wisht Advocators: • Noah Webster • Benjamin Franklin • Andrew Carnegie • President Theodore Roosevelt Background: spelling reform Opposition to the spelling reform Mark Twain: “For example, in Year 1 that useless letter c would be dropped to be replased either by k or s, and likewise x would no longer be part of the alphabet. The only kase in which c would be retained would be the ch formation, which will be dealt with later. Year 2 might reform w spelling, so that which and one would take the same konsonant, wile Year 3 might well abolish y replasing it with i and Iear 4 might fiks the g/j anomali wonse and for all. Jenerally, then, the improvement would kontinue iear bai iear with Iear 5 doing awai with useless double konsonants, and Iears 6-12 or so modifaiing vowlz and the rimeining voist and unvoist konsonants. Bai Iear 15 or sou, it wud fainali bi posibl tu meik ius ov thi ridandant letez c,y and x — bai now jast a memori in the maindz ov ould doderez — tu riplaisch, sh, and th rispektivli. Fainali, xen, aafte sam 20 iers ov orxogrefkl riform, wi wud hev a lojikl, kohirnt speling in ius xrewawt xe Ingliy-spiking werld.” Conclusion Conclusion Difference: spelling, vocabulary, grammar, pronunciation & accent, speech • Be careful of the differences when talking with English speakers. Future development: Difference between A.E. and B.E. will decrease. • Increasing transatlantic travel and trade • Mass media: TV, Hollywood films • American GIs during WWII References • http://iteslj.org/Articles/Barton-UK-USwords.html • http://www.bu.edu/mfeldman/Slang/glossary.html • http://www.davidappleyard.com/english/britishglossary/N.ht m • http://grammar.quickanddirtytips.com/regionalisms.aspx • http://grammar.quickanddirtytips.com/british-americanenglish-differences.aspx • http://grammar.quickanddirtytips.com/through-threwthru.aspx • http://esl.fis.edu/grammar/easy/aebe.htm#8 • http://www.projectbritain.com/langdiffer.htm • http://www.barnsdle.demon.co.uk/spell/histsp.html • http://history1900s.about.com/od/1900s/qt/trspelling.htm • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simplified_Spelling_Board • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=12qqU9wkzzY Thank you for your attention!