British vs American EnglishEnglish is typically considered one of the hardest languages to learn for foreigners. Of course, native speakers don’t have to deal with the learning process like foreigners do because they are raised on the language. However, there are several aspects that can cause major problems for even native speakers of english.
One of these is the difference between British english and American english. While they have a vast majority of similarities, they can be heavily different and it cam sometimes be difficult for people from the two areas to communicate with one another, either orally or even orthographically.
There are orthographical differences between American english and British english. Sometimes British english uses french-based spelling and wording, such as “cheque” as opposed to the American “check.” “Defense” in America is “defence” in Britiain, and the “er” in American english is “re” in British english: “center/centre, theater/theatre.” The British also add a “u” or the “or” sound in some words: “colour, neighbour, and favourite” versus “color, neighbor, and favorite.” The British, Canadians, Australians, and even people in northern united states
watch television “programmes” as well. One word that has caused vast confusion is the word “gaol.” When I first read this in “Dracula” I had no idea what that word was or how to pronounce it. I had to repeat the word in various stresses and pronunciations before I understood that it meant “jail.” When I finally figured it out I literally said, “Wow...that is just mean of the British!”
The way we pronounce words can alter differently as well. The words “schedule” and “advertisement” are two of the most common words that varies in pronunciation between British and American english. The vegetable “tomato” also alters in pronunciation, as to several other words the two dialects share. The stresses on words also varies depending upon location. “Address” in America is stressed “address” whereas in British english it is “address.”
Even the basic everyday vernacular is different and sometimes confusing. What the British refer to as “flats” are called “apartments” in America, “biscuits” are “cookies,” “tea” is “dinner” and a “lift” is an “elevator.” The word holiday means two different things, depending up on the culture. In America, a holiday refers to a specific day of celebration; in British english, a “holiday” refers to a long period of leisurely absence from work or home, referred to in America as a “vacation.” And a torch to Americans is a hand-held wooden instrument on which the upheld end is aflame. The British torch to Americans is called a “flashlight.”
Sometime grammar can be different. While mostly the grammar is in sync, this is not always the case. When Americans becomes good friends with someone, they say “I’ve gotten to know him/her/.” The British would say “I’ve got to know him/her.” To Americans, the British style means that the speaker MUST know someone, an obligation as opposed to a past participle. Another example is the phrase “I should have done it” in American english, which becomes “I should have done” in British english, removing the neutral pronoun from the context completely.
Even punctuation can be different between the two. Americans would write something along the lines of: The maid said, “Mr. Smith will see you now.” The British would typically write: The maid said: “Mr Smith will see you now.”
Learning all these differences can be hard for native speakers, so the challenge it presents to foreigners must be frustrating, to say the least. But being aware of such differences can help students and native speakers alike learn more about the english language as a whole, making it easier to communication cross-culturally.