Two Kinds of English
Most of us are familiar with the song lyrics “You say poTAYto and I say poTAHto, You say toMAYto and I say toMAHto.” These lyrics exemplify one of the differences between American and British English, the two most widely spoken varieties of global English. Despite the seemingly endless number of similarities between the two, significant differences between American English and British English in three specific linguistic areas make each one quite distinct from the other. Pronunciation is perhaps the first difference that people notice between American and British English. Some individual sounds are consistently different. For example, poTAYto in American English comes out as poTAHto in British English. WateR in American English is pronounced as wateH in British English. TUna in American English comes out as TYUna in British English. Furthermore, certain whole words are pronounced quite differently. Schedule is pronounced with a “k” sound in American English but with a “sh” sound, as shedule, in British English. The stress in the word aluminum in American English is on the second syllable, so it is pronounced aLUminum by Americans. Stress in this same word in British English is on the third syllable, so British English speakers pronounce it aluMInum. These pronunciation differences, though noticeable, do not impede real communication. In addition, neither American English nor British English has a better pronunciation than the other; they are simply different. A second difference is in spelling. One example of this is the spelling of the vowels preceding the letter r in certain words. Americans write color and endeavor. In British English, however, these same words would be written coloUr and endeavoUr. Another obvious spelling difference is the final syllable of words that finish in –er in American English and –re in British English. Examples of this include centER in American English with centRE in British English. Another...
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