Difference between AE & BE - 2012 History of the English

Differences between
American English
British English
Lily Chang 97501015
English Department
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!
• “pants” – “trousers” in A.E.
BUT “underwear” in B.E.
• Date: A.E.12/21/2012
• 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
have a nosh-up
with his parents because the nosh
food there
was fantastic. Because he liked to have banger
sausage very much,
he argued to his parents.
sausage in this noshery!”
Tom: “I’d like to try all kinds of banger
nonsense It’s too expensive to do that!”
Parents: “Don’t talk balls!
Tom: “Why not? It’s not cricket!
My friend, Tony, has tried
all of them! Not cricket,
not cricket,
not cricket!!!”
Shut up
Parents: “(narked)
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
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
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
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.”
 Difference: spelling, vocabulary, grammar,
pronunciation & accent, speech
• Be careful of the differences when talking with English
 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
Thank you for your attention!

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