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  1. #1
    yiuho is offline Junior Member
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    Default British English vs American English

    Do you think American English is more popular than British English? In daily life, we watch the movies and almost all the movies are from Hollywood and all speak American English, not British English. In this reason, shall we concentrate on American English, more than that of British English? Please advise!

  2. #2
    xpert's Avatar
    xpert is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: British English vs American English

    As far as I'm concerned, American English is more popular. The media has made it extremely widespread.

    In this reason, shall we concentrate on American English, more than that of British English?
    Personal preference plays an important role here.

    I'm looking forward to hearing from American and British teachers

  3. #3
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    Default Re: British English vs American English

    Having travelled most of my life, and so many visits to the different States in America, and travelling throughout Britain, such a question dumbfounds me.
    What is American English, that in others' minds there seems such a clear distinction?

    Apart from the American accent, tell me: what is the difference in the English used in To Catch a Thief or The American President (both on TV last night) compared to British English?

    Are people who raise this issue comparing the Deep South and Yorkshire? When you say, "American English", do you mean California/Hollywood English, Texas English, Bostonian, or the Carolinas? Do you may ghetto Los Angeles, or trailer trash Alabama...or one of the redneck regions? Maybe the Bronx, or some Jewish enclave in New York city???????

    yiuho: what is an example of this difference that prompts your question?
    Are you referring to spelling?
    Last edited by Excalibur; 06-Nov-2009 at 03:59.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: British English vs American English

    As a fairly well-traveled American, I can say this:

    The British are much better at exporting their education and their sports teams to the rest of the world than Americans are. You find British-based curricula in more international schools, and I see Manchester United stickers everywhere.

    The Americans are better at exporting their culture and entertainment. Many people learn basic conversational English from watching movies and television.

    There are many differences in vocabulary and grammar between British and American English; however, when taken in context of the depth and breadth of the English language, these differences amount to only a small percentage. In some regards, formal American English is considered (even by British linguists) to be a better steward of proper English (the so-called "Queen's English") than current British English. Also, for differences such as the usage of have and got to denote possession ("He has blue eyes" in American English vs. "He has got blue eyes" in British English), there is evidence to suggest that the Brits are actually migrating more towards the accepted American usage. Another example is the past participle of get, which is got in British English, and gotten in American English.

    Terminology can cause confusion, but again, it's a very small percentage of the lexicon. The sentence, "I keep a few tools in my boot" would be met with confusion in the US, but be perfectly understood in the UK. What they call a boot, we call a trunk (the back of a car). For Americans, a boot is a type of shoe, and people almost never keep screwdrivers and hammers in their shoes! Things like that are minor in the scope of the language, though.

    Spelling differences are easy to see and process. Anyone who learns British English (colour, realise, centre) can still understand the same words written in American English (color, realize, center).

    Many of my students have told me they prefer American English because it's easier to understand, and by that, they're referring to the neutral accent. However, the US is a huge country and there are some accents there that ARE difficult to understand. It's just that, in the media, which is the primary source of American English for many people, the neutral accent is actively sought. You're not usually going to find someone with a Southern drawl, or a Texas twang, or a hard Boston accent delivering the news or starring in your favorite drama. :)

  5. #5
    soutter is offline Junior Member
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    Default Re: British English vs American English

    Sometimes there is a no difference between US and UK English:

    eg

    To Catch a Thief or The American President

    Sometimes there is a difference between US and UK English:

    eg

    Fancy a fag while we're travelling?

  6. #6
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    Default Re: British English vs American English

    I definitely find there are differences and what stands out is that Americans and Brits understand these, but when we speak with people where English is taught as a foreign language it gets interesting. For instance, I have to go to the "post" means nothing to an American - we're waiting to hear "office." But when kids say a,b, c, d....x, y, and ZED I am not sure if I should correct them or not. I never heard a brit or an American say that, i'm the latter, but I could just be missing something.

    Who says Zed for Zeeeeeeee? I thought zed was Greek.

  7. #7
    bhaisahab's Avatar
    bhaisahab is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: British English vs American English

    Quote Originally Posted by rbiton View Post
    I definitely find there are differences and what stands out is that Americans and Brits understand these, but when we speak with people where English is taught as a foreign language it gets interesting. For instance, I have to go to the "post" means nothing to an American - we're waiting to hear "office." But when kids say a,b, c, d....x, y, and ZED I am not sure if I should correct them or not. I never heard a brit or an American say that, i'm the latter, but I could just be missing something.

    Who says Zed for Zeeeeeeee? I thought zed was Greek.
    "Zed" is BrE, no Brit would say "zee" unless he/she had some personal reason for wanting to sound American.

  8. #8
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    konungursvia is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: British English vs American English

    Most Canadians still say zed, though some say zee. Zed is the original name of the letter, rbiton.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: British English vs American English

    The reality is that no matter which variety you use, the Americans would still understand the British and vice-versa except perhaps for some technical terms or idioms. In one of Oprah's shows, when Simon Cowell spoke, Oprah understood perfectly.

    If you're in the US, then use American English; if you're in the UK or former colonies of the British, then use British English. I personally think that there's no need to change focus just because one variety is more popular than the other.

    If you know both varieties, then, it's an added bonus for you.

  10. #10
    Barb_D's Avatar
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    Default Re: British English vs American English

    (Let's not forget the US was once a colony -- or really, several of them -- too.)
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

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