Differences Between British English and American English

Topics: English language, American English, British English Pages: 13 (4398 words) Published: April 24, 2011
1. British English and American English pronunciation7
2. British English and American English vocabulary10
3. British English and American English grammar13


The object of this work is to study, analyse, and most importantly compare differences between two major branches of English language: American English (also called General American) and British English (also called UK English or English English).

The term British English is used to distinguish the standard form of English used in Great Britain and Northern Ireland from the varieties used in other parts of the world (Peters 2004:79). But according to McArthur (2002:45), this term in itself is tautologious and somehow misleading for it could be interpreted in many ways and shows only broad sense of the language that is spoken in Britain because there are many variations, dialects, and usages of this language.

Similarly to the British English, American English is a term that describes a language that is spoken in the United States of America (Peters 2004:34). It is also a broad term and shows the collection of words, pronunciation patterns which are used in the United States but that does not imply that every American speaks American English as it is defined in books.

As these two languages are wealthy with different words and to point out differences between all of the words would be daunting and not particularly useful thing only some group of words will be studied. Also, because of the close relation between American English and British English, some analysis at how these two languages altered will be given. There is an abundant list of authors and books on the subject of differences between American English and British English and this course paper will try to give a comprehensible and concise insight on this case.

Motivational basis of the research: Throughout the decades, specifically from the very beginning of American English formation and up until recent times, writers, linguists, politicians, and just plain, ordinary people are highly interested in this branch of English mainly perhaps because of the short period through which American English developed into widely used language, in comparison to British English. And this is not even the first interesting point that authors try to analyse. As American author Bill Bryson noted on the variety of accents in British Isles and lack of them in America, in his book “The Mother Tongue: English and how it got that way”: “A paradox of accents is that in England where people from common heritage have been living together in a small area for thousands of years, there is still huge variety of accents, whereas in America, where people from a great mix of backgrounds have been living together in a vast area for a relatively short period, people speak with just a few voices” (2001:99). This course paper will try to answer such questions as why British English changed and was influenced by other languages throughout the decades whereas American English virtually remained in the form as it were during the creation of the U. S. A.; is American English and British English one language but with few variations or should they be regarded as separate languages. It is extremely interesting and intriguing to analyse and to understand the differences between two branches of seemingly one language which have the same origin in England. Bernard Shaw once said: “England and America are two countries separated by a common language”, through analysis, comparison this course paper will try to confirm or deny the statement that American English and British English is in fact one language but with few regional differences.

The purpose of this course paper is to conclude whether British English and American English are variants of English or should they be regarded as separate languages, this will be...
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