British english vs American EnglishEnglish is the first language of over 375 million people, most of whom live in great britain
(61 million) and America (215 million). It is the official second language in many countries, and these States have always looked to British or American english for their standards. However there has at times been resentment against American english importations into British english. American english differs in numerous ways, from pronunciation to points of spelling, punctuation, syntax and above all vocabulary. Yet many American words, expressions and constructions have been absorbed into British english. In recent years that has been ever-increasing thanks to the globalisation of the media, films, book, radio and television.
There are countless American words that have infiltrated British english. In fact many native english speakers would not have been aware certain words and phrases were originally American. There was a time when verbs such as utilise and advocate and adjectives like talented and reliable were ridiculed. But they have now firmly established themselves in British english. Yet there are words in British english that have maintained a measure of independence despite the increasing American influence. Autumn, pavement, underground and queue have remained against the American fall, sidewalk, subway and line. Some American usages have established themselves alongside their British english counterparts and it is possible to see or hear both American and British words with the same meaning. Such examples include tin and can, lift and elevator and stones and rocks.
British and American english have a number of grammatical differences, including the use of tense. In British english present perfect is used to express an action that has occurred in the recent past that has an effect on the present moment. In American english, the use of the past tense is also allowed, however this would be considered incorrect in British english. Differences also arise in vocabulary, and a particular object in British english may have an entirely different name in American english. For example the term aerial is British, while the American equivalent is antenna. There is an increasing number of websites appearing in the form of British-American english dictionaries, which outline the differences in vocabulary.
Differences between the two forms of english are common in regards to spelling. For example, the British words colour, centre and defence appear as color, center and defense in American english. Similarly the American forms of the British centralise, analyse and dialogue are spelt as centralize, analyze and dialog. There are also a few differences between the two english forms in the use of prepositions. While the British would play in a team, Americans would play on a team, and while the British would go out at the weekend, Americans would go out on the weekend.
There are of course British english speakers who believe an American word or phrase is in fact inferior because they have not encountered it before. Similarly there are those who may feel an American expression is better simply because it is novel and new. But the fact remains that the two are inextricably linked, and as technology advances the world becomes a smaller place thanks to the internet and global communication. english as a global language is likely to continue evolving and adapting with influences from both American and British english. As time passes more and more words are included in the likes of the Oxford english Dictionary. In the 12th and most recent edition, numerous ‘tech-centric’ terms were officially added, including ‘woot’, sexting, retweet and cyberbullying. These are words that have evolved globally from internet usage and communication and are now used so frequently by english speakers they have been deemed to be ubiquitous. Meanwhile words such as ‘brabble’ and ‘growlery’ have fallen out of use to the extent they were removed from the same edition.
British and American english set the standards when it comes to english as a second language. Yet they both are constantly evolving, changing and influencing each other. Thanks to the internet the lines between the two are blurring as an arguably global english language is emerging. But despite this there remain noticeable differences in structure, grammar and vocabulary between the two forms.
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Gowers, Sir Ernest The Complete Plain Words, Penguin Books
Holehouse, Matthew ‘Woot! Retweet and sexting enter the Oxford english Dictionary, The irish Independent, August 18, 2011
Taggart, Caroline and Wines, J.A. My Grammar and I (or should that be ‘me?), Michael O’Mara Books Limited
http://www.effingpot.com/ The very best of British The American guide to speaking British, August 19, 2011
http://www.bg-map.com/us-uk.html The BG-Map english (British) – American dictionary, August 19, 2011
http://www.diffen.com/difference/American_English_vs_British_English American english vs British english, August 19, 2011