English: US vs. British

Discussion in 'Linguistics' started by leopold, Apr 16, 2011.

  1. universaldistress Extravagantly Introverted ... Valued Senior Member

    But is it truly easier. American English is still full of so called phonetic inaccuracies. It makes little difference. A few missing or rearranged words hardly amounts to an easier language to learn. The difference is so minimal that it doesn't really give too much help. There are still most of the distinct spelling/pronunciation drifts in place for the main body of words.
  2. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement

    to hide all adverts.
  3. John99 Banned Banned

    I am referring to the language known as "Old English". What accents version were before and what after? IOW's what is the "New English" and if there is a new english means it has changed. Lets look at "New Zealand" version, it's hard to understand in spoken form.
  4. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement

    to hide all adverts.
  5. John99 Banned Banned

    I think omitting the u is a big help. Still would like to see a list of these, must only be a few.
  6. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement

    to hide all adverts.
  7. Dywyddyr Penguinaciously duckalicious. Valued Senior Member

    Why? What does this have to do with Victorian speech or Shaespeare?

    "New English" would be, by your rating "anything after "Old English"". What's your point?

    You are joking I hope.
    1) "New Zealand English" is barely a different form of English from British English.
    2) The accent is perfectly understandable (and quite attractive). Kiwis talk English.

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

  8. universaldistress Extravagantly Introverted ... Valued Senior Member

    Shakespeare was middle english I think? Victorian English is indistinguisable from the modern, bar minimal phrase preference and a losing of dialect's bite in a very general sense.

    All English dialects are still in place and understood by English speakers; even Americans understand them due to links across the pond. Remember the girl from Manchester in 'Frasier'. English films travel to the US. Awight mate?
  9. John99 Banned Banned

    My mistake. But do you see what i am saying? The missing u is such a small thing and why is there?
  10. universaldistress Extravagantly Introverted ... Valued Senior Member

    One word is hardly a big problem.

    Center centre
    liter litre
    color colour
    industrialised uk
    industrialized us applies to all use of ise

    There are more but do they amount to much? No.
  11. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    Why would people speak like shakespeare in Victorian times, which started more than 200 years after he died?
  12. John99 Banned Banned

    You're right. must have been a reproduction i saw using the wrong accents\inflections. Still goes to show the language has gone through those changes. Meaning even the British are not speaking the same exact language either though.
  13. John99 Banned Banned

  14. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    Brazilians speak Portuguese, not Spanish. Pope Urban (I think it was) divided the Western Hemisphere between the king of Spain and the king of Portugal along a meridian, without realizing that most of the region lies west of it. So Portugal got only Brazil, and Spain got everything else.

    The Portuguese of Rio de Janeiro differs from the Portuguese of Lisbon about as much as the English of New Orleans differs from the English of London. In Iberian Portuguese they elide E and O off the end of a word, so the numbers sete, oito, nove (7, 8, 9) become "set, oit, nov." In Brazil final O is pronounced U and final E is pronounced I, and in addition a T or a D before I is palatalized, so they come out "setchi, oitu, novi." Furthermore, R in the dialect of Rio is similar to a northern French gargled R, only more guttural. So Rio de Janeiro is pronounced "Khiu dji Zhaneikhu."
    No. If two forms of speech are intercomprehensible, then they are accents, if the only difference is in pronunciation, or dialects, if there are other differences. Standard American and Standard British are classified as two dialects of English.

    Of course this distinction is not always clear. The Czechs and Slovaks were united into a single country for so long that most of them can understand each other, but we still count them as separate languages. Politics also comes into play. All linguists consider Flemish a dialect of Dutch, but to highlight their claim for more autonomy from the other half of Belgium, the Flemings insist that it is a language.
    Victoria died in 1901 so I'm sure there are a few sound recordings from the end of her era. As I've mentioned before, newsreels and other recordings make it clear that Elizabeth herself does not speak as she did at the beginning of her reign.

    Linguists have reconstructed a reasonable facsimile of the "upper-class" accent of Shakespeare's era. A company once produced one of his plays with the actors speaking "authentic Shakespearean dialect." British audiences were very hostile, since it sounded too much like today's Cockney and other "lower-class" accents, which was difficult to endure from the mouth of a king. AFAIK they never tried it over here; we have enough trouble understanding R.P.
    I think the point was that the American dialect has more influence on the British than vice versa. You already use "billion" for 1,000,000,000 instead of 1,000,000,000,000, and we've learned on this thread that "knock up" increasingly means "to impregnate" rather than "to awaken," two of many examples. How many Britishisms have we adopted in the past few decades? I'm not denying that there are some, but I suspect the traffic is maybe a little bit greater in the other direction.
    As I already noted as the Moderator, in linguistics two forms of speech must not be mutually comprehensible in order to be called languages.
    Few people use English as a primary language in China. But English is one of the official languages of India, and it's the one that people who speak different regional languages use to communicate with each other. Indian English is a recognized standard dialect.
    The development of English is actually broken into three periods, not two.
    • What in my day was known as "Old English" is now called Anglo-Saxon. This is the language of "Beowulf," the pure dialect of Old German brought over ca. 400CE after the collapse of the Roman Empire by the Angles, Saxons and Jutes, displacing the Celtic people and their Brythonic language except in a few places like Wales and Cornwall. It is unintelligible to us.
    • Middle English evolved after the Norman Invasion in 1066. French became the official language so thousands of French words entered the language through commerce and government--including basic everyday words such as second, use, question, face and very. The grammar was also streamlined, for example, losing the declension of nouns by gender and case. This is the language of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, which is very difficult for us to read but is at least recognizable.
    • Modern English emerged in the 14th and 15th centuries. It is marked by further grammatical simplification and vocabulary expansion, but perhaps most notably by a wrenching phonetic shift, such as the loss of the Germanic KH sound, the elision of final E in many words and the transformation of cardinal A and I to their modern AY and IGH sounds. Early Modern English is the language of Shakespeare.
  15. John99 Banned Banned

    So we can say that the "English" language had non-English origins.


    I hate to say this 'cause it doesnt matter to me but what if we gave the language a different name? People would not have that weirdness about pride and all that..."we cant\wont speak English" and all that. My ancestors are not native English speakers either.
  16. universaldistress Extravagantly Introverted ... Valued Senior Member

    First of all Fraggle Rocker, thanks for the insights.

    I think you make a better point. I would love to see a breakdown of this. I think you would be surprised how much cross over does originate from our side. Because a lot of the exchange happens between direct contact and not necessarily through art etc. Also doesn't change the point I was making that English is still spoken as it was originally intended, for all intents and purposes.

    Sorry, I missed that. But: what of Portuguese and Spanish then. they can comprehend each other (they told me as much), but the differences are deemed enough to justify a different language status. I suspect the rules are not so cut and dry?

    Is the Indian form derived from English or American English? (English I would say due to past ties). I suspect, but don't know, that the Chinese form is derived from American English? But being a new form that derives from Am. Eng, that itself derives from source-English, kind of removes some kind of American claim to dominance of a language they did not form themselves?

    Please excuse any errors here as I am only a layman (an interested layman).

    What do you make of the Chinese need to use a form of English adapted for their lingual psychology? Sounds like mighty interesting stuff.
  17. universaldistress Extravagantly Introverted ... Valued Senior Member

  18. Dywyddyr Penguinaciously duckalicious. Valued Senior Member

    I've heard it: as I alluded earlier, it sounds vaguely Brummie (with some Geordie thrown in and a bit of West Country).
    I doubt audiences were "hostile" because it was "lower-class accents from the mouth of a king" so much as the fact that the pronunciation of certain words were unfamiliar and threw off comprehension.
    E.g. Ajax was pronounced as a A-jakes (but at least it facilitated getting a toilet pun in there...)
  19. quadraphonics Bloodthirsty Barbarian Valued Senior Member

    Misses my point - which is that your influence is largely consigned to history.

    Not what I said. What I said was that the American usage is the dominant, definitive one - worldwide. What people in England do or don't do doesn't matter much: that's only a small minority of the language, and so nobody is particularly beholden to it.

    The implication would be that American usage influences British usage more than the other way around - likewise with every other country in the world.

    Again, misses the point, which is that the ongoing evolution is determined far far more by the USA, than by Britain - we're the ones (re)writing the rules, now.

    Misses the point - which is that which forms are and are not adhered to, is not strongly influenced by British usage.

    And since the subject is not the origins, but what determines current and future development, it is exactly relevant.

    Which actually strengthens the pull of the dominant usage - American. Which would be why American English is what's taught in "Business English" classes for foreigners worldwide, ads for such prominently feature the Statue of Liberty, etc.

    Didn't say anything about "scholars." It's the mass usage that drives the definition of the language.

    Makes no sense - should be called "American" if it's a simple present-tense description. The name "English" describes exactly its origin.

    And I still haven't asserted that it is a new language. So maybe drop that strawman.

    Like I said, centuries ago.

    Also not what I said - point is that American English is the fountainhead of the language, now. British English is a quirky regional dialect, not widely used elsewhere. American English is the global standard.

    Whatever that "special status" is, it does not amount to deference from the majority of native English speakers.

    Fuck that noise.

    Hasn't stopped us yet, and I doubt it ever will.
  20. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    Not so fast. "English" is a phonetic evolution of Anglisc, the adjectival form of Angle, the name of one of the three tribes that came over from northern Germania to take over the already-civilized island of Britannia after the Romans so conveniently abandoned it. So the Anglisc language did indeed have Anglisc origins. I don't know the proportions of members of the three tribes among the occupying forces, but the Angles ended up on top of the hierarchy when it came time to start naming things. The country itself wound up with the name Angle-land, which is now phonetically altered to "England," and the language is named after them too. There are several counties in England with names like "East Anglia," and others with names such as "Sussex," which is a contraction of "South Saxony." I'll let one of our British members correct me, but I've never heard of any places named after the Jutes. Most of their original home, the peninsula of Jutland, is now Denmark. There is still a Saxony (Sachsen) in Germany, but I don't believe they have a region named after the Angles any more.
    That would be highly unusual. Since the Dawn of Civilization, when each distinct people began to need a name by which other peoples would know them, almost every language has inherited the name of its original speakers. What else are you going to call your language, "Freddy"? It's the Chinese language or the Telugu language, that's how everybody knows which one to learn if they're planning on going to another country. "Hey guys, I'm going to the Ukraine to attend a conference. Which language do I need to bone up on, Xlopfu or Red Dog?"

    Of course the name a people have for themselves and their language isn't necessarily the one that other people call them by. We call the deutscher Germans, the Hungarians call them nemetor and the French call them allemands. (No one capitalizes nationality names but us.)

    And the names themselves are not usually very clever. Thiudisc, the Proto-Germanic word which is the source of deutsch, "Dutch," "Teutonic," their Scandinavian name tysk and their Italian name tedesco, is the adjectival form of thiuda, which means simply "people." Among pre-civilization cultures, the names by which they and their language are known is usually one that some other culture gave them, such as "those folks on the other side of the river," or "the people who commune with otters." (I just made those up, don't go combing through Wikipedia.

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!


    The Chinese, of course, call their country the Central Kingdom because as far as they were concerned it was the center of world civilization, so Zhong Guo Hua means "the language of the central kingdom." Everyone else named the country after the Chin Dynasty, because that's who was in power when Westerners "discovered" it.
    My paternal grandmother was of English ancestry, but my mother's parents spoke Bohemian (we call it Czech now because that is so much easier to spell and pronounce). My father's father came from a Jewish family, and the Jews are famous for picking up the language of whatever country they lived in. Until the founding of modern Israel no Jew had spoken Hebrew as a vernacular language for more than two millennia. So his paternal grandparents could claim to be English speakers as much as German or Hungarian (where they each came from).
    Portuguese speakers, in either Iberia or Brazil, can often understand Spanish because they are inundated with it. But the reciprocal is not true of hispanophones. Probably the people in Paraguay or northern Argentina, who have so much commerce with Brazil. But few Mexicans or Cubans can understand more than an occasional word of Portuguese. It would probably be a little easier for them to read it, I've never asked about that. The accents are so different that it really takes some getting used to.
    You're right and so is your reason. Hindi is the primary official language, but it is shunned as a universal language because it is the regional language of the New Delhi area, so to use it would be to give a second mark of superiority to the people who already have all the government jobs. They'd rather speak the language of their former army of occupation. Go figure.

    It's clearly of British origin, you can hear the vowels and some of the telltales like "going to university" instead of "the university." Also like British English, it is spoken much faster than American English. But it has its own idiosyncrasies, both in pronunciation and in more important areas, enough to qualify as a separate dialect. I am immersed in it every day at work, but I haven't been there long enough to be able to catalog those idiosyncrasies and describe them to you. One thing is that it's very atonal. The accented syllables are hardly accented at all, in pitch, loudness or duration. And they have no respect for prepositions. I think when they sense that a sentence needs one they just throw a dart at a dartboard that has all the English prepositions spread around the target at random, and use whichever one they hit. You are probably all familiar with my utter disdain for prepositions as virtually meaningless noise words, so I don't hold this against them at all.
    I have not heard many Chinese in China, or recently arrived, speak English, so I can't make that distinction. The Chinese who come here, even recent arrivals, have clearly studied American phonetics. But considering that Hong Kong was a British colony for 99 years, I would assume that there is a significant presence in China of people who speak British English.

    Chinese and English have so much structure and attitude in common that it's probably as easy for them to pick up our language as vice versa, so maybe they just learn fast.
    That's not an issue that I find very important so I'll let the rest of you decide.
    Sorry, I'm not familiar with that.
    Interesting. That's not what the article I read said, but journalists seem to be particularly inept when reporting on language--ironically enough the tool of their trade.
    Sorry, you'll have to translate that for this colonial. I know that the famous author Brian Jacques (the Redwall series of books for children and at least one Fraggle) pronounced his surname Jake.
  21. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member



    No Australian would ever identify him or herself as English. We tend to be quite patriotic and keen to distinguish ourselves clearly from the nations who have the most influence on us (e.g. UK and US).

    As somebody else said, our biscuits are essentially your cookies. Only, we have a somewhat wider variation than you seem to have (but that is changing as Australian biscuit ideas slowly invade US manufacturers).

    Asguard posted a photo of a scone above. It's a soft, doughy thing most often eaten with cream and jam. Combine them with tea and you have what is known (in Australia, at least) as a "Devonshire Tea".

    Yes. No need to stamp out and eradicate redundancy and repetition, I say!

    Australian (and New Zealand) country singers, to some extent, seem to mimick American country singers - perhaps because they form many of their influences. Having said that, there has always been a distinctive type of Oz country music as well.

    As for Australian pop singers in general sounding like Americans, I think it's actually more of a convergence towards a "mid-Atlantic" accent, which tends to be forced on you to some extent by the act of singing (provided you do it with some degree of proficiency, which can't be said for all singers). While there are some pop singers who deliberately set out to sing with their own distinctive accent as a differentiating marker, many adopt a more "neutral" accent when they sing. They often sound quite different when you hear them interviewed.

    Sounds like a nightmare.

    Our fruit preserves generally don't come as smooth "jelly" - they tend to have at least some lumps of fruity goodness in them. I guess there's a lack of demand for smooth ones. Peanut butter, on the other hand, does come in different varieties - smooth, crunchy and super crunchy.

    We call those "jam doughnuts".

    Jelly on its own, often with icecream, is a not uncommon dessert. In that case, the jelly tends to be made by putting crystals in hot water, which then sets into a wobbly but solid clump.

    When in the US, many Australian and New Zealand artists don't worry too much about distinguishing between the two nations. New Zealand is practically a satellite state of Australia (although NZers will strenuously deny this). The standard path for an internationally-famous NZ music act is to make it in NZ, then make it in Oz, then head off "overseas" to the UK, US or wherever.


    As an Australian, I find it very easy to distinguish an Englishman from an Irishman, a Scot, a New Zealander or a South African. On the other hand, I've never really nailed down where, exactly, all the regional English accents relate to - there are so many of them.

    I can't always pick a Canadian from an American, but I'm getting better at it. There are some Canadian pronouciations and word uses which are direct giveaways, but not all Canadians use them.

    I think I can vaguely pick a west-coast accent from an east-coast one from a southern one, but that's about as specific as I get.

    Things might be changing now, but in Australia you don't get eggs "over easy". A fried egg on its own is always "sunny side up". Occasionally, you might see an egg over easy in a hamburger, but it would never be described that way. And no Australian had ever heard of a "hash brown" before McDonalds put them on the menu.

    One of my fond memories of America from over 20 years ago is truck-stop big breakfasts (of which I had a few), which is where I first learned the difference between over easy and sunny side up.

    I'm not sure whether that happens to all travellers; perhaps it does. Certainly whenever I've been to another country I've ended up mimicking the local accent after a while. It's a subconscious thing, and I think there are two reasons for it. One is an effort to make yourself a bit less conspicuous and not immediately label yourself as a foreigner (although plenty of other things about you almost inevitably do that anyway). The other thing is just the practical matter of making yourself understood to the locals. If you insist on pronouncing words how you usually pronounce them, then all conversations take much longer, once you add in all the sorries, pardons, what-did-you-says etc. Let alone the complete mis-hearings, which often provide the basis for some hilarious take-home stories: "I ordered an X in this restaurant, and they brought me a Y because they thought I'd asked for it. The waiter gave me a very strange look, like I was mad..."
  22. chimpkin C'mon, get happy! Registered Senior Member

    That would be Gelatin here, often called by the brand name, Jell-o.

    People from the southern US, although it's becoming less common, if you ask them if they are about to do something, they may reply "Fixin' to!"
    And there is You-all, contracted to Y'all. As in, "Y'all want some tea?" (Which will be iced, if the offerer says y'all. You could bet a $20 on it and win.)
    My Spanish 1 professor referred to the Nosotros tense pronouns as the y'all tense.
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2011
  23. Dywyddyr Penguinaciously duckalicious. Valued Senior Member

    No it's jelly.
    No such thing as Jell-o.

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

    All that water between us has damaged your sensibilities.

    Google images proves it.

Share This Page