English: US vs. British

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

  1. chimpkin C'mon, get happy! Registered Senior Member

    Either way, it's made from collagen boiled out of bone, and is not vegetarian. Waah. I miss it.
  2. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement

    to hide all adverts.
  3. Cifo Day destroys the night, Registered Senior Member

    Ice cream and Jell-O together? :bugeye:
    It's the sacred and the profane.
  4. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement

    to hide all adverts.
  5. chimpkin C'mon, get happy! Registered Senior Member

    It's really supposed to be jello, cool-whip and marshmallows, with shredded coconut on it.
    I don't think there's been a family reunion of ours at which that has not mysteriously shown up.

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

  6. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement

    to hide all adverts.
  7. universaldistress Extravagantly Introverted ... Valued Senior Member

    Can you explain to me what evolution away from the mother tongue has been incoroporated into modern English? Seems to me the language taught in schools and universities hasn't changed. If you are talking about slang phrases which do not constitute inclusion in any textbooks? It is the scholars who set the benchmark. They are the ones who decide what is taught. Their opinions are the ones the curriculums are set to. With modern connections across the pond this benchmark isn't really set to evolve. The evolution of English is set to slow almost completely. I would say that the language for me at present is more representative of the English true form than ever before with accents broadly being eaten into by the fact scholars english is now taught. This is set to continue as the world becomes more literate. The English taught in Universities in England bears virtually no difference from that taught in American unis. Can you please explainn to me where america is taking the english ;anguage exactly. seems to me that the language we learn at school is English English.

    All this points to the fact English is still subject to the English scholars benchmark not the americans.
  8. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    In Mexico, the "upper-class" (i.e., employed) people often call themselves españoles and refer to their "inferiors" as indios.
    That's much different from the hard, crusty scones I had in Canada fifteen years ago when they first appeared on this side of the Whaleroad. I haven't tried one since then, perhaps they've improved.
    "Tea" is only served here on the most formal occasions in the most old-fashioned institutions.
    I've sung my share of country music and there's something about it that shapes your mouth into those sounds.
    I remember an episode of "Inspector Morse" set in Australia, and the Sergeant was saying how much he liked a particular style of Australian music that was playing on the car radio at the moment. It sounded like bluegrass with a bit more Celtic influence and lyrics that had nothing to do with hillbillies. Morse said, "This country doesn't even have any good music. Listen to that stuff: it's not really Scottish, not quite Irish, not very English, and not even American." Somehow the writers missed the obvious retort: "That's because it's Australian music."
    When the "British Invasion" happened in rock'n'roll in the mid-1960s, it was widely remarked that all the British singers were trying to sound like either black American Southerners or white American Southerners. I don't think they were trying. Just as country music shapes your mouth into hillbilly phonemes, rockabilly shapes your mouth into Southern urban phonemes.
    Here in the Washington region we have a lot of greater-than-four-way intersections. (Pierre L'Enfant deliberately designed Washington as a circle so all the major roads radiate outward. He never envisioned motor vehicles.) It's difficult to build a true roundabout that can handle that volume of traffic, trying to enter and exit in such short increments. Traffic circles eliminate left turns, so even though they have signals they are actually very efficient in this context.
    We just have smooth and crunchy.
    We don't even have any idea what or where all those places even are. Where the heck is "Birmingham?" Besides London, the only English city we know is Liverpool, because of the Beatles.
    Since the advent of television they watch so many of our programs that their accent is being leveled, just as American regional accents are. I rarely hear a Canadian say "eh-oot" for "out" the way they used to, or even "zed" for "zee." The québecoises, on the other hand, speak a recognizably regional dialect of French.
    West and East are rapidly merging. The network TV announcer accent, from whom all children learn to talk, is, after all, a synthesis of Hollywood and Manhattan.
    Ooh I hate eggs that way. "Over hard" is okay but I prefer scrambled with cheese.
    After 50 years of communicating in Esperanto almost exclusively with Eastern Europeans, I find myself writing their way. Primarily that means omitting the definite article, which, as I have often preached, is virtually a meaningless noise word anyway.
    Ya'll has even been extended to the genitive case: Y'all's.
    If you want hot tea in most American restaurants you have to ask for it specifically, or the waitress will probably ask, "Hot or iced?"
    You must mean the vosotros inflection. Nosotros means "we," vosotros is a nearly obsolete familiar plural form of "you," heard primarily in biblical quotations in which the King James Protestants would say "ye." In the singular you can differentiate between familiar you, tu, and formal you, usted (usually written Vd. or Ud.). But in the plural the formal form ustedes (Vds. or Uds.) is virtually always used rather than vosotros. Usted is a contraction of vuestra merced, "your grace." Notice that they first started using the plural second-person pronoun vos as a polite singular, then when that became too common they replaced it with vuestra merced. Portuguese has done the same thing with vos and then vossa mercé, which became vocé. But they've gone a step further and now vocé has become familiar, so they say o senhor, a senhora, "the gentleman, the lady," for formal "you."

    We've done the same thing in English. Originally "thou" was singular and "ye" was plural--which was at some point replaced by its accusative case, "you." People started using "you" as a formal singular, until it replaced "thou" completely except in church. Now they sense the lack of any plural form of "you" so they invented "you all." In other regions they say "youse," "you'uns," or "mongst ye."
    How far back are you looking? Modern English has been changing steadily for six hundred years. No one talks like the characters in Shakespeare any more. I detect subtle differences from the way people spoke sixty years ago. It's much more acceptable to start a sentence with "and" or "or." And of course the noun-adjective compound, which was virtually unknown then, has become rampant: fuel-efficient, user-friendly, labor-intensive. Nouns are much more freely used as verbs: to text someone; and vice versa: that was a good read. Grammar that was once considered uneducated is now heard everywhere: snuck for sneaked, dove for dived, lay for lie. Same with faux-erudite pronunciations, such as ofTen and arCtic.
    I beg your pardon but in the United States it is journalists who define the rules. People still write "Mr. Jones' hat," because they started doing that in the 1980s to save one em of space for advertising revenue. Only in university papers do people refer to the MLA stylebook. Everywhere else we use the AP or one of the newspaper books. I'm an editor so I have to know this to make a living.
    That's because you aren't noticing things like the advent of the noun-adjective compound. This is revolutionary. For 1600 years we've been strangled by a set of prepositions inherited from the Stone Age, with no convenient way to coin new ones, that is supposed to describe every possible relationship between two things. We gave up and now use adjectives in their place. This puts English on the track that Chinese has been on for centuries. They no longer even have prepositions: all relationships are described by nouns and/or verbs. It makes for a much richer, more expressive and adaptable language. Notice that Chinese never has to borrow foreign words--which is handy since they are utterly incompatible with Chinese phonetics.
  9. universaldistress Extravagantly Introverted ... Valued Senior Member


    Very informative but still doesn't support the suggestion that americans are writing the rules. I would stand by what I said. The Unis of both countries are not choosing to deviate American English from English.

    I beg your pardon but journos do still go to Uni to learn English do they not? Punctuation choices for printing purposes hardly define or change a language.

    I did say almost completely. This comes from Chinese, not American? This isn't supporting the idea that Americans are in charge of the English language. I would say that English English itself is a more important benchmark.

    I think my assertions are still in place.
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2011
  10. universaldistress Extravagantly Introverted ... Valued Senior Member

    Fraggle Rocker, what kind of editing do you do?
  11. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    For the past few years I have been the editor and lead writer on various government documents, including a project management handbook for a large agency, user manuals, training material, contingency plans, help screens and management reports. Many were destined for review by departmental executives and had to be perfect; others had a wide audience and were expected to meet the same standards. In the past I have edited newsletters, developed course materials for a training firm, assembled and edited system development methodologies and written a chapter in a published book on IT management.
  12. universaldistress Extravagantly Introverted ... Valued Senior Member

    I'm in a more fictional direction, not editing but writing. Well, trying to write.
  13. universaldistress Extravagantly Introverted ... Valued Senior Member

    I did post this link earlier Fraggle, but thought you may have missed it or not had a look:

  14. Cifo Day destroys the night, Registered Senior Member

    I'm unsure about this. I can't remember the last time someone "dialed" anyone, and yet, I'm sure the scholars didn't tell us to "phone" instead.
    This also coincides with "color" discrimination in Central/South America that falls along the same lines.
    And Canadians spend dollars, not pounds ... same with the Australians.
    The news websites drive me nuts with their use of nouns as adjectives in their titles, and oddly enough, it reminds me of Arabic more than Chinese.
    No prepositions?? Doesn't Shanghai mean "on the sea"? shang = on, hai = sea.
    Well, they invent some pretty odd character combinations in lieu of adopting foreign words and names. The name "Obama" is 奥巴马, "ao ba ma", perhaps meaning "mysterious snake horse"?
  15. mathman Valued Senior Member

    Gelatin is particular substance which jells. Jello is a brand name of packaged flavored gelatin. Jelly is something quite different.
  16. universaldistress Extravagantly Introverted ... Valued Senior Member

    Jell-o (American) is a brand name for Jelly (English).
    Jelly (American) is Jam (English).

    In England a jam type jelly made for jammy use (on toast etc.) is called a jelly (normally no bits and made using gelatin I think, go to Tesco and buy some 'Bramble Jelly').
  17. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

    car park [UK] = parking lot [US]
  18. Dywyddyr Penguinaciously duckalicious. Valued Senior Member

    Or there's the classic (if apocryphal) story of the American Beatles fans on a guided tour.
    The guide doing the talk noted "And this is where John Lennon had his first flat".
    The tourists duly started photographing the road and kerbside...

    UK Flat/ US Apartment.
    UK Puncture/ US Flat.
  19. drumbeat Registered Senior Member

    In Ghana food is called 'chop' and to chop your mouth means to eat.
  20. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    That's not what I mean by a noun-adjective compound. It's a compound word made from a noun followed by an adjective. Family-friendly, stain-resistant, lactose-intolerant. I don't think this mechanism of expression was never used at all a hundred years ago, but it has exploded in the last few decades as every anglophone has come to the realization that prepositions are nearly useless for subtlety or precision. As I have opined many times.
    It's impossible to translate names because too many morphemes are left out. But no, that's just the customary way we translate it in English. Shang translates better as the noun "top" and in actual discourse it follows its object rather than preceding it. Bi zai juo-zi shang = "(the) pen occup(ies) (the) table('s) top," not "the pen is on the table."

    English dictionaries give horrible etymologies of Chinese words, in part because of the horrible way anglophone linguists have analyzed Chinese grammar. The Wikipedia translation of shang hai is much more accurate: "the upper sea." Chinese has no adjectives but its syntax is left-to-right like ours, so the noun shang modifies the noun hai. "Top sea," as in "the sea at the top," not "on top of the sea."
    In the case of names they have no choice. So they struggle to find a combination of monosyllabic morphemes that vaguely approximates the pronunciation in the original language, and in addition builds a new compound word whose most reasonable interpretation is vaguely descriptive or even complimentary of the person or place. Mei guo, "beautiful country," for America.

    "Obama" is easy, since as an African name it doesn't have the consonant clusters that make English impossible to transcribe in Chinese, e.g., "Nixon" had to be rendered as three syllables: ni-kuh-sun. They could have done a much better job with Obama, since ou is also an allowable syllable and it's a better phonetic match than ao. I doubt that the transliteration you've given is used in the official press. They would not insult the leader of their biggest trading partner so egregiously. Taking any of the four tones, since tone is not phonemic in English, there are probably about twelve morphemes pronounced "ou," twelve for "ba" and twelve for "ma." It wouldn't have been hard to come up with something much nicer.

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

  21. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    It takes more than a smattering of culture-specific words, or even idioms, to promote a language variant to the status of a dialect. This article has not convinced me that the English of China is a dialect.

    At this stage of development it appears to me to be simply American English as spoken in China. Here are some of my comments and reactions to the text (in the order they arose, rather than grouped by topic).
    The same thing happened to Latin. The Romans took their language with them as they expanded their empire, so before long most people who were using it in commerce, government or scholarship had learned it as a second language, or were the descendants of those people. Its only "native speakers" were the people in the Rome region.

    English already has this status in India, where arguably more people speak it than in America. India consists of a great many states, most of which have their own primary language. When they want to talk to each other, they switch to English.

    The same thing happened, even further in the past, to Aramaic. The Aramaeans were merely one of many peoples conquered by the Achaemenids, but for obscure reasons their language was chosen as the language of the entire empire. It remained the lingua franca of the Middle East right up into early modern times, long after the Aramaeans themselves disappeared into the Melting Pot.
    Assertions like this make me skeptical of the scholarship that went into this article. Most anglophone linguists recognize Indian English as a third standard dialect. I wouldn't be surprised if before long Australia/NZ is given the same status.
    We only use the word "restroom" for public facilities in restaurants, train stations, etc. In our homes it's the "bathroom." "Washroom" is sometimes used in a school, factory or similar setting, where it's not truly open to the public but can be used by anyone who has a legitimate reason to be there. "Going to the bathroom" is the universal American euphemism for doing a "number one" or a "number two."
    That's hardly an astounding discovery. There are many examples of language continua throughout the world. There are villages on the border between Germany and Holland where the local speech can reasonably be regarded as a dialect of both German and Dutch.
    If the only differences between two language varieties are phonetic, then the most they can be are accents, not even dialects. Of course if, over centuries or millennia, the pronunciations diverge so markedly that there is no longer any hope of mutual intelligibility, then we have a situation which as far as I know is, ironically, unique to China. The non-phonetic writing system has ensured that all Chinese use the same words in the same sequence (well maybe 98%), allowing them to read each other's writing, but they are pronounced so differently that they can't understand each other's speech. "Five," for example, is wu in Mandarin and ng in Cantonese, but they are the same word. These regional speech varieties were once called "dialects," but since the basic definition of "dialect" includes mutual intelligibility, we now call them "languages." But the fractured English of flight attendants hardly qualifies as an accent, much less a dialect. It's just English spoken rapidly and poorly!
    To my criticism of the author's scholarship I will add criticism of her writing. Why did she pick an example which, by her own admission, the rest of us can understand? It doesn't make her point. We Americans have more trouble than this in understanding British idioms. And btw, we also say "lose face" over here.
    But this is true, to a greater or lesser extent, of the English (or any other language) of a community. The people in any major city use idioms that are completely incomprehensible to outsiders. Here in the Washington region we talk about the power of "K Street." That happens to be the street where the offices of many lobbying firms are headquartered, a very short taxi ride to the halls of Congress. K Street is simply another way of saying "the lobbyists."
    OK, finally she gives a good example. If you load up your second language with words from your primary language, you are creating a variety of speech that will become increasingly incomprehensible to the original population of speakers. The Mexican immigrants in California and Arizona, the Italian immigrants in New York and Chicago, they've all done this. Some of the words have penetrated the standard dialect, but many others have died out as the second and third generation lose their fluency in the old tongue and speak only English. When this happens, the result is usually a pidgin or a creole. If, in this case, it's the speech of university professors and government ministers, it will surely retain the rest of the language's original vocabulary and all of its grammar, so it may be a dialect. On the other hand, it could also be jargon, a term usually used for the language of a profession, hobby, sport, etc., which has words the members need to discuss their profession, sport or hobby, and which no one else needs to understand. If the inability of outsiders to penetrate the speech and understand it is deliberate, then it becomes a cant. The question remains, whether the Chinese people who use these Chinese words when speaking English among themselves would also use them outside their circle and expect native English speakers to learn what they mean and become comfortable with them.
    This is just jargon and/or slang, and it's not even that hard to understand.
    I'm beginning to wonder if the writer has learned British English. We pronounce "geniune" that way in America. In fact Hibernian English has had considerable influence on the American dialect, especially in the Appalachian region where so many Irish and Scots-Irish people settled.
    She misses what I think is a very good reason for this preference: We speak English more slowly than the British people, so we're easier to understand. They tend to elide unaccented vowels or reduce them to diphthongs, whereas we don't. "Stadium" is a three-syllable word in America; in England it's STAY-dyum.

    On the balance, I did not find this article very informative, scholarly or persuasive.
  22. universaldistress Extravagantly Introverted ... Valued Senior Member

    Fair points Fraggle. It was more the idea of this, and what it could possibly lead to that I found interesting

    A new dialect could still be on the cards. My main reasoning for this would be the transposition of Chinese use of tonal differences -to alter meaning- onto English use in China. I believe there isn't one Chinese language but a family of inter-related dialects/languages? How easy is it for all Chinese people to communicate? I know that 70% speak Mandarin as native speakers, but do all Chinese people learn Mandarin?

    What would it mean for communication within China when just as many, if not possibly more people speak English compared to Mandarin? Could we see something similar to India, where English is used as a standard. And if so this itself could create a desire for English to be more tone related for meaning, like in their own languages?

    Could this possibly be the/a next level in English's potency, or just a future regional variant?
  23. gmilam Valued Senior Member

    Which is preferable to the British "O ba mer".

Share This Page