Main differences between British and American English- an overview

Topics: English language / Pages: 3 (760 words) / Published: Dec 30th, 2003
American English is now different from its British mother and we could say it is more than another dialect due to its importance nowadays. At the beginning of its history, after the American emancipation, there were two opposite attitudes towards the language: those who wanted to eradicate any legacy from the colonization and did not want a British model for their language and those who felt language loyalty towards mother- English. But finally, as in many British colonies, linguistic emancipation was a consequence of politics.

The growing importance of American English is also due to politics: after World War II, when the United States assumed a more global role and had greater influence in fields such as economic, technological and political, America became a linguistic model. As well as this American English has a dominant influence in the world because in US there is 70% of the native English speakers' population, for its big publishing industry and mass media technology and for the magnitude of higher education.

The main differences between British English and American English are pronunciation, spelling and lexicon. However, syntax is not a big difference. Now we are going to have a glimpse at each, illustrating them with some examples.

Referring to pronunciation we can settle some basic parameters to see the difference between dialects. First we have the merger of [I] and [å] before nasal consonants, makes pin and pen homophones in the American dialect. Many words that used to be stressed on their second syllable are now stressed in their first syllable (like reconcile) but in America nowadays this process is even more rapid. Words like cigar, hotel and Detroit are now front-stressed. Then there is the deletion or reduction of weakly stressed syllables, a process that has been really important in English phonetics and that now is extending throughout the States. An example of that would be fence from defense or 'lectricity for electricity.

Now let us

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