Eupedia Forums
Site NavigationEupedia Top > Eupedia Forum & Japan Forum
Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 25 of 37

Thread: British vs. American English

  1. #1
    Unswerving bicyclist Achievements:
    Recommendation First ClassVeteran
    thomas's Avatar
    Join Date
    14-03-02
    Posts
    145


    Country: Japan



    British vs. American English



    Being a non-native English speaker, I found the following article quite interesting (taken from another board):

    = = = = = = = =

    There are different stories for different groups of words.

    The standardization of English spelling was a long, slow process, extending over centuries and full of hiccups and reversals.

    For the words like “center,” both the “center” and “centre” spellings were widely used in the Middle Ages. By the 16th century, however, the spelling “center” had largely won out in Britain. This is the spelling preferred by Shakespeare, Milton, and other writers of the 16th and 17th centuries, and it is the spelling preferred in most dictionaries of the period. Naturally, therefore, “center” was the spelling carried to the American colonies in the 17th century.

    In the US, therefore, nothing much has happened. The prevalent spelling “center” was endorsed by Noah Webster’s famous and influential American dictionary in 1828, and it has never since been threatened.

    In Britain, however, the French-style spelling “centre” made a comeback in the 18th century. This was preferred by several lexicographers, including the enormously influential Dr. Johnson in his 1755 dictionary, and, as a result, “centre” displaced “center” as the British spelling.

    Something similar happens with the “-ize” / “-ise” words, like “civilize” / “civilise.” In this case, though, the etymological spelling is that with “-ize” (which derives from the Greek suffix <-izein> ), and the “-ize” spelling was universal in English until around the 18th century. But then British writers noticed that the French had changed the spelling of their cognate suffix from <-izer> to <-iser>. The British began aping the French, and writing “-ise” instead of “-ize.” This new spelling was endorsed by Dr. Johnson, and it has since become very widespread in Britain. But not universal: some conservative quarters in Britain still insist on “-ize.” An example is the august Oxford University Press, which still prefers “-ize.” If you look up the suffix in the second edition of the Oxford English Dictionary, you will find a firm little lecture on the foolishness of writing “-ise.”

    In the US, none of this ever happened, and Americans continue to use the traditional “-ize.”

    But the “color” words are different. Though the spelling had earlier fluctuated, “colour” was pretty much established as the usual spelling in Britain by the 14th century, though “color” continued to be used occasionally, under the influence of the Latin <color>, the ultimate (but not direct) source of the word.

    But in 1828 Noah Webster opted for “color.” He did this, apparently, partly because he preferred simpler spellings, and partly because he was eager to distinguish American English from British English. In fact, his dictionary contains a number of novel spellings for these reasons, but many of his proposals never caught on. However, Americans took a liking to his “color,” and have made it their invariable spelling.

    So, the chief reasons for the differences are the varying preferences of influential lexicographers, plus a substantial French influence on British English but not on American English.


    = = = = = = = =

  2. #2
    Satyavrata Achievements:
    Three FriendsRecommendation First ClassVeteran50000 Experience PointsTagger First Class
    Maciamo's Avatar
    Join Date
    17-07-02
    Location
    Lothier
    Posts
    6,495
    Points
    313,437
    Level
    100
    Points: 313,437, Level: 100
    Level completed: 0%, Points required for next Level: 0
    Overall activity: 39.0%


    Ethnic group
    Celto-germanic
    Country: Belgium - Brussels



    That was very interesting ! I knew about the French influence in words in "-er/-re" and "-or/-our", but not about the historical context. I also didn't know that "-ize" was the usual form in UK till the 18th century. I guess it doesn't really matter which one one uses.

    This site gives similar explantations, with also the difference between "programme" (UK) and "program" (US) - the first is the original in French, Latin and Greek, so the American version is just a simplification. For "pyjama" (UK) and "pajama" (US), the Hindi and Persian roots give reason to the latter. Note that French also spell it with a "y" (and pronounced it like in "pit"). I guess the word first came into the English language, where the "y" is pronounced "e", then came with this spelling into French who have pronounced it like it was written (as all French vowels only have one pronouciation). But it may have happened the other way round too.

    I would like to point at the link between AmE and Japanese English as well. As explained on the same site (phonology section) some Americans tend to pronounce some short "e" sounds (like in cut or rung) and short "o" sound (box, hot) like "a" (such as the final of "sofa"). I guess that's why Japanese people, heavily influenced by the US after the WWII, have adopted English words like "coktail" saying "kakuteeru", "color" saying "karaa or else "cover" pronouced "kabaa. They could have spelt them with a "o" instead. That would have made them easier to understand for foreigners and closer to international English.

  3. #3
    Satyavrata Achievements:
    Three FriendsRecommendation First ClassVeteran50000 Experience PointsTagger First Class
    Maciamo's Avatar
    Join Date
    17-07-02
    Location
    Lothier
    Posts
    6,495
    Points
    313,437
    Level
    100
    Points: 313,437, Level: 100
    Level completed: 0%, Points required for next Level: 0
    Overall activity: 39.0%


    Ethnic group
    Celto-germanic
    Country: Belgium - Brussels



    There are quantities of site offering BE vs AmE glossaries. Here are the two most entertaining I have found. One has anAmerican point of view, while the other (really recommended) is made by a Brit for Americans.

    What would an non-British think if I said my grandmother made me a big nice joint last night ?

  4. #4
    Unswerving bicyclist Achievements:
    Recommendation First ClassVeteran
    thomas's Avatar
    Join Date
    14-03-02
    Posts
    145


    Country: Japan



    Highly interesting, thanks for the links, I'll have a closer look at them.

    some Americans tend to pronounce some short "e" sounds (like in cut or rung) and short "o" sound (box, hot) like "a" (such as the final of "sofa"). I guess that's why Japanese people, heavily influenced by the US after the WWII, have adopted English words like "coktail" saying "kakuteeru", "color" saying "karaa or else "cover" pronouced "kabaa.
    Isn't that simply "lingua vulgaris" aka slang? I doubt that any ivy league prof orders a "caacktail". :)

  5. #5
    That man in the corner Achievements:
    Veteran
    Twisted's Avatar
    Join Date
    15-03-02
    Location
    The Netherlands
    Age
    40
    Posts
    25


    Country: Netherlands



    I think it's simply phonetics. Listen to the original word, write it down in hiragana and then let a random person pronounce it again.

    I never realized the subtle differences between American and British English, but in the past i have been in doubt about the spelling of many of these words and i find that i'm using both ways at inconsequently.

    I've learned most of my written English from magazines. The internet is a bit of a dangerous tool to learn from, since there's no telling what is the right way.

  6. #6
    Unswerving bicyclist Achievements:
    Recommendation First ClassVeteran
    thomas's Avatar
    Join Date
    14-03-02
    Posts
    145


    Country: Japan



    I'm also using a jumble of BE and AmE and try to read as much as possible in order to iron out netphrases/netspeech/neticisms. Reading offline, that is.
    :)

  7. #7
    Regular Member Achievements:
    Veteran
    samuraitora's Avatar
    Join Date
    28-05-02
    Location
    Detroit MI
    Age
    39
    Posts
    18


    Ethnic group
    kind of a hodge-podge
    Country: United States



    I think that the differences between the 2 englishes is funny. I have a lot of friends in England and speaking with them can be interesting some times.

  8. #8
    Regular Member Achievements:
    1 year registered
    miki's Avatar
    Join Date
    31-10-02
    Location
    Kuala Lumpur, M'sia
    Posts
    2






    didn't know there're so much difference between the BE & AE...

    as a former british colonial country, we are educated in BE.. however, due to heavy influence from the west (mostly hollywood movies, tv shows)... we then picked up the american slang as well...

    till now, most of the time i got confused between AE & BE...

  9. #9
    Regular Member Achievements:
    Veteran

    Join Date
    15-04-02
    Location
    SonyLand
    Age
    45
    Posts
    37


    Country: Japan



    I grew up in Western New York and some how learned both.
    What a pain!

    I guess it's a personal preference.

    But the funniest thing is that I've heard that even in London different accents exists, so much that you can tell what part of town they live in. Go Prince Charles!

  10. #10
    Regular Member Achievements:
    1 year registered

    Join Date
    12-07-03
    Location
    SINGAPORE
    Posts
    29






    My first year in the United States was a complete disaster. You see, I had learned British English since I was a child. In my younger years, I had also learned to speak English with British accent from the Brits. When I landed in the U.S., I had to learn English almost all over again. My accents and the expressions I used were just not comprehensible to many of my peers in college. I had to write what I wanted to say on pieces of papers. It's my third year in the land of the free, I'm speaking English with American accent and some slangs too!

  11. #11
    Taicho Achievements:
    1 year registered
    mdchachi's Avatar
    Join Date
    06-03-03
    Location
    USA (Detroit area)
    Posts
    45


    Country: United States



    I doubt that any ivy league prof orders a "caacktail".
    I bet they do. At least the American ones. So, how do you pronounce it? coke-tail?

    I've never heard it pronounced any other way than the pronunciation you hear at www.m-w.com. Is there an online British English dictionary like M-W that we can use to compare?

  12. #12
    Mad Bee Hatch Achievements:
    1 year registered
    Rachel's Avatar
    Join Date
    08-08-03
    Location
    England, worcestershire, worcester.
    Age
    42
    Posts
    82






    Originally posted by moyashi

    But the funniest thing is that I've heard that even in London different accents exists, so much that you can tell what part of town they live in. Go Prince Charles!
    Yep ! It's true.
    The hardest accent to understand over here is glaswegen (Bad spelling, sorry). They slide their words together then accelerate the end result. also they pronance "J" as "Ja". When their talking, your brain picks up on the fact it's english but you still have no idea what their saying. It's a nightmare !

  13. #13
    Regular Member Achievements:
    1 year registered

    Join Date
    14-05-03
    Posts
    27


    Country: Japan



    and cockney (sp?) don't they -or they did- have their own language almost?
    e.g "can you adam and eve it?" adam and eve = believe.
    Is this cockney or am I getting confused with another accent over there?
    My Grandma was from Yorkshire and I've heard they almost speak another language at times!
    Interesting country - must visit someday :)

  14. #14
    Satyavrata Achievements:
    Three FriendsRecommendation First ClassVeteran50000 Experience PointsTagger First Class
    Maciamo's Avatar
    Join Date
    17-07-02
    Location
    Lothier
    Posts
    6,495
    Points
    313,437
    Level
    100
    Points: 313,437, Level: 100
    Level completed: 0%, Points required for next Level: 0
    Overall activity: 39.0%


    Ethnic group
    Celto-germanic
    Country: Belgium - Brussels



    Yes that's cockney, but don't adam and eve that everybody can understand it or even less speak it. It's a typically working class way of speaking that probably less than 1% of the people actually use (mostly in East London, where it originated). Lot's of Australian also use it (maybe more than in England). Hey me old China, have a captain at who's comin' there ! (old China = china plate = mate ; captain = captain cook = look ). You need the accent with it too : "Oroit mite ?" (= alright mate ? = how are you ?).

  15. #15
    Mad Bee Hatch Achievements:
    1 year registered
    Rachel's Avatar
    Join Date
    08-08-03
    Location
    England, worcestershire, worcester.
    Age
    42
    Posts
    82






    Originally posted by nzueda
    and cockney (sp?) don't they -or they did- have their own language almost?
    e.g "can you adam and eve it?" adam and eve = believe.
    Is this cockney or am I getting confused with another accent over there?
    My Grandma was from Yorkshire and I've heard they almost speak another language at times!
    Interesting country - must visit someday :)
    No your not getting confused, it's cockney rhyming slang.
    And I think your thinking about old rural yorkshire, they have several words you won't find in the english dictionary. I have no idea what they are tho.

  16. #16
    Satyavrata Achievements:
    Three FriendsRecommendation First ClassVeteran50000 Experience PointsTagger First Class
    Maciamo's Avatar
    Join Date
    17-07-02
    Location
    Lothier
    Posts
    6,495
    Points
    313,437
    Level
    100
    Points: 313,437, Level: 100
    Level completed: 0%, Points required for next Level: 0
    Overall activity: 39.0%


    Ethnic group
    Celto-germanic
    Country: Belgium - Brussels



    Originally posted by Rosie
    My first year in the United States was a complete disaster. You see, I had learned British English since I was a child. In my younger years, I had also learned to speak English with British accent from the Brits. When I landed in the U.S., I had to learn English almost all over again. My accents and the expressions I used were just not comprehensible to many of my peers in college. I had to write what I wanted to say on pieces of papers.
    Yeah, the average Americans are much less exposed to foreign accents than Brits, Australian or whoever else. That already holds to the fact that US pronunciation is much more standard all over the country, eventhough its so huge. In the UK, there are Scottish, Welsh and Irish accents, then all the dialects that change almost from town to town. Liverpudlian (i.e. people from Liverpool) would just say "toon" for "town" or "hoos" for "house" (from the original pronuciation before the 15th century).

    Then everybody is used to American English (accent + voc.) through Hollywood movies and TV series. Nowadays, Australian drama are also popular in Britain, so Brits start using Aussie expressions too.

    Last but not least, English people travel a lot. It's very common for people in their twenties to take a "gap year" (=year off), buy a round the world plane ticket and travel on their own in the backpacker fashion. That helps a lot understanding whatever foreign English accent : Indian, Thai, Spanish, Japanese... It forms the ear. In all my travel, I've seen very few Americans (about 1% of Brits and Dutch people together only). Even the Lonely Planet guidebook for the USA advice travellers there to adapt their pronuciation if they want to be understood (like in "bath" that should be pronounced "baeth" in the US instead of "baaath"). That's strange that they should understand, as I usually don't have any problem understanding any accent, foreign or native, in English (except sometimes a strong outback Aussie accent).

  17. #17
    Satyavrata Achievements:
    Three FriendsRecommendation First ClassVeteran50000 Experience PointsTagger First Class
    Maciamo's Avatar
    Join Date
    17-07-02
    Location
    Lothier
    Posts
    6,495
    Points
    313,437
    Level
    100
    Points: 313,437, Level: 100
    Level completed: 0%, Points required for next Level: 0
    Overall activity: 39.0%


    Ethnic group
    Celto-germanic
    Country: Belgium - Brussels



    Originally posted by Rachel
    No your not getting confused, it's cockney rhyming slang.
    And I think your thinking about old rural yorkshire, they have several words you won't find in the english dictionary. I have no idea what they are tho.
    Well they may say "chab" or "chabby" for "child", but they say "bairn" further North and that's not easier to understand. Any road they don't allus like to walk on the coursey when it's right parky, you know (translation : "Anyway they don't always like to walk on the pavement/sidewalk when it's very cold" ; I made it up just to give an example).

    Happen Sekabin can help us with his Yorkshire dialect.

  18. #18
    Occasional visitor Achievements:
    1 year registered

    Join Date
    21-05-04
    Location
    Dublin, Ireland
    Posts
    35


    Ethnic group
    Japanese
    Country: Ireland



    ... and then there are marked differences between Canadian and American English (pronunciation and orthography) ...

    Sorry to resurrecting a long-dead thread (I found this in a "related threads" list).

  19. #19
    Regular Member Achievements:
    3 months registered
    iceman's Avatar
    Join Date
    15-11-09
    Location
    Aleppo
    Age
    25
    Posts
    7


    Ethnic group
    Arab World
    Country: Syria



    there are a lot of difference even between UK , England, Scotland, Ireland and Weals.

    I'm studying English literature RP , but I like the American Accent .

  20. #20
    Junior Member Achievements:
    3 months registered

    Join Date
    29-01-10
    Posts
    4


    Country: Romania



    It's easier to speak American English than British English, they have that weird accent

  21. #21
    Regular Member Achievements:
    3 months registered

    Join Date
    23-02-10
    Posts
    20


    Country: Spain - Andalusia



    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post
    There are quantities of site offering BE vs AmE glossaries.

    What would an non-British think if I said my grandmother made me a big nice joint last night ?
    Brit for Americans is quite fun but clearly written by quite a posh person. It's also got quite a few mistakes in it e.g. Saying the word "Ta" is short for "Thank you", when it is a quite separate word, coming from Old Norse. Norwegians still say "Tak" for thank you, I believe.

    That's being picky though, I know. It's fun.

  22. #22
    The Hairy Wookie Achievements:
    Veteran10000 Experience Points
    Awards:
    Community Award
    Mycernius's Avatar
    Join Date
    04-02-05
    Location
    Hometown of George Eliot
    Age
    44
    Posts
    916
    Points
    16,392
    Level
    38
    Points: 16,392, Level: 38
    Level completed: 93%, Points required for next Level: 58
    Overall activity: 0%


    Ethnic group
    English
    Country: UK - England



    Quote Originally Posted by zvira View Post
    It's easier to speak American English than British English, they have that weird accent
    Which weird accent, we have several in the UK? Welsh, Yorkshire, Geordie, Brummie, Cockney, Scouse are just a few.

    Quote Originally Posted by iceman View Post
    there are a lot of difference even between UK , England, Scotland, Ireland and Weals.

    I'm studying English literature RP , but I like the American Accent .
    As above, which American accent? Deep southern is very distinctive drawl, or the nasal New York. America also has a variety of accents, as do Canadians.

  23. #23
    Regular Member Achievements:
    3 months registered

    Join Date
    23-02-10
    Posts
    20


    Country: Spain - Andalusia



    Quote Originally Posted by Rachel View Post
    No your not getting confused, it's cockney rhyming slang.
    And I think your thinking about old rural yorkshire, they have several words you won't find in the english dictionary. I have no idea what they are tho.
    Yorkshire is the biggest county in England and as such has not one but many different accents. It also used to have a number of related dialects. My favourite example of these old dialects is the counting system used by sheep farmers.

    In Swaledale, one of the most remote corners of Yorkshire, they would count thus:

    1. Yan
    2. Tan
    3. Tether
    4. Mether
    5. Mimph
    6. Hither
    7. Lither
    8. Anver
    9. Danver
    10. Dick
    11. Yan dick
    12. Tan dick
    13. Tether-a-dick
    14. Mether-a-dick
    15. Mimphit
    16. Yan-a-mimphit
    17. Tan-a-mimphit
    18. Tether-a-mimphit
    19. Mether-a-mimphit
    20. Jiggit

    There are still many dialect words still used today although very few people use dialect as their main mode of communication. Some Yorkshire dialect words have found their way into mainstream English, such as cadge (to ask to borrow), ta (thank you), mardy (moody, bad tempered), skint (penniless).

    You can find some lovely examples of Yorkshire dialect on the internet, much of it in verse, it really does lend itself well to humour.

    Here's a short example, something my dialect-speaking grandfather always liked to recite...

    Hear all, see all say nowt
    Eat all, sup all, pay nowt
    An if tha ivver dus owt fer nowt
    Do it fo thi'sen

    Owt = something
    Nowt = nothing
    Ivver = ever
    Tha = you
    Thi'sen = yourself

  24. #24
    Regular Member Achievements:
    3 months registered
    Gwyllgi's Avatar
    Join Date
    28-02-10
    Location
    Wales (UK)
    Posts
    215

    Y-DNA haplogroup
    I don't drop acid
    MtDNA haplogroup
    Well, not any more!

    Ethnic group
    Welsh
    Country: UK - Wales



    Quote Originally Posted by iceman View Post
    there are a lot of difference even between UK , England, Scotland, Ireland and Weals.

    I'm studying English literature RP , but I like the American Accent .
    Weals?

    WEALS?


    Iesu Grist man! Even in English (spit) it’s spelt Wales, and in yr iaith Gymraeg, (the PROPER language) it’s Cymru!

    Actually the Welsh language is closer to the true language of these Islands. Very close to the Scottish Galic, Irish, Manx, and Cornish it is.

  25. #25
    Junior Member Achievements:
    3 months registered
    Niroa's Avatar
    Join Date
    25-03-10
    Location
    Germany, Berlin
    Posts
    6


    Ethnic group
    German
    Country: Germany



    Hey,

    I just find the Scottish accent funny - because they roll sometimes the R and drop letters while they pronunce words, it isn't that weird but it sounds "different" compared to other variants of English.

    By the way, is it the truth that Britons don't pronunce the final "R" as in "war" not that strong as US Americans do it? I've never noticed a difference.

Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast

Similar Threads

  1. Replies: 10
    Last Post: 15-02-14, 18:36
  2. Replies: 23
    Last Post: 29-04-11, 09:57
  3. Replies: 22
    Last Post: 02-10-09, 18:19
  4. Replies: 7
    Last Post: 13-04-05, 02:45

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •