Distinktion Between British and American English

Topics: English language, Received Pronunciation, General American Pages: 8 (2387 words) Published: January 8, 2013


In this paper, distincion between British English and American English on the phonetic aspect will be discussed. The whole paper is going to be devided into several parts, in the first part various of English accents and the outline of the differences between these two variants of English will be introduced in biref ; In the second part, the representative of British English – Recerved pronunciation will be presented in detail on the aspect of sound system; in the thirt part, the phonetic peculiarities of American English will be discussed; in the last part, the sound system of British English and American English will be compaired in detail, thus the differences will be presented minutely.


The fanous American author and humorist Mark Twain had said that :'English and American are separate languages,..when I speak my native tongue in its utmost purity an Englishman can't understand me at all.' (The stolen White Elephant) It is ture, we have already heard the concept of American English and British English when we started to learn this language, although we didn't know and cannot distinguish their differences at that time, we knew, at least, they are different. As an English majoring student, now I know they have distinctions in several aspects including vocabulary, pronunciation, spelling, intonation, etc. and it is my horner and pleasure to write on this theme: distinction between American English and British English on the phonetic aspect.

Various accents:
One thing which should be mentioned at the very begining is that, in fact,there are various accents in English, in general, linguistists devide them into two groups: American varient of English and British variant of English, which can also be subdevided as in following graphic:

Each of the above mentioned accents has their owen features thus different from each other, in this paper, not all these acctents are going to be discussed, only two representatives will be researched, they are the representative of American Enlish : General American English (GA), and the representative of British English: Received Pronunciation (RP), In general, one of the most siginificant parcularities of Brithish accent is it is cadenced, almost every sylable is pronounced clearly, long vowels and short vowels are distinguished obviously. However in American accent it is kind of ambiguous and vague, most of the long vowels are cutted short. For instance, the vowel 'a' in 'class' belongs to long vowel, British always pronounce it intactly, whereas Americans often enunciate it as a short one, it sound like 'a' in the word 'bad'. An other example can be the word 'aunt', almost all American pronouce it as 'ant' with out expception, which makes it confusing whether they are reffering to their aunt or the ant creeping in front of their house. British accent invariably enunciate voiceless consonant in unstressed sylables clearly, yet Americans pronouce voiceless consonants as voiced ones, as a result, the word 'Battery' was enunciated as 'Baddery' by Americans. In most countries the English learning materials of schools use British standard English. The English channel of China Central Telivision as well as the dialogues between the spoke men of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and foreing journalists use British English too. Among foreign meida, the accent used by BBC is considered to be acknowledged model of British English. Within Movie stars, Hugh Grant (acted the leading role in Four Wedding and a Funeral) graduated from Oxford University and speaks in standard upper class British accent..

RP: authentic British accent
In China, there are various accents in different origins, among them mandarin is the officially stipulated as standard official language, however, although there...
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