TEFL British English vs. American English

"British English vs. American English"- the title itself suggests a battle or a contest where only winning matters. In many ways, this is exactly what it is. It is a silent struggle for domination that is mainly fought in the halls of academia where dictionaries and encyclopaedias are the weapons of war and the generals are professors. Why has this happened? Its human nature to be competitive and ?survival of the fittest? is one of the most well known phrases in the world; regardless as to which continent you are on. When the continents involved are two of the worlds? superpowers, the sayings ?God save the Queen? and ?God bless America? take on a whole new meaning.

There are many differences between American English (AmE) and British English (BrE). These include pronunciation, lexis, spelling, pronunciation, idioms, format of date and time and a few words and phrases that have completely different meanings in both forms of the language. In general AmE in its written form is standardized across the U.S and speech is somewhat uniform throughout the country due to the influence of mass media and geographical and social mobility. BrE is reasonably uniform in its formal written form while the forms of spoken English vary greatly across the U.K. This is because the language has been spoken for much longer than the U.S so it has had time to develop and change.

Variations in grammar are numerous. In formal and notional agreement BrE collective nouns can take either singular or plural form depending on whether the emphasis is on the body as a whole or on the individual members. AmE collective nouns are usually singular in construction. On the topic of verbs, BrE allows both regular and irregular forms of the verbs of the past tense and past participle. In AmE the irregular forms are hardly ever used. Normally Britons tell the time while Americans tell time. The AmE formations ?top of the hour? and ?bottom of the hour? are not commonly used in BrE.

The dissimilarities between the two forms are plentiful but the biggest and most obvious one is that of accent. Many people are biased towards the form they are brought up with whilst others play the ?grass is always greener? card. ?I?m form America and I personally like the way British accents sound more than American ones. I think they sound a lot more proper and sophisticated. I think American accents are easier to understand though, seeing as I come from there? There seems to be a general consensus that the Queens English is the proper guideline to follow.

?British English vs. American English?- a competition, yes, but the question we are asking now is: can it be won? It is a question that may remain unanswered for many years. Words are being added all the time and we are coming up with new meanings for existing words everyday. A wise young man once said ?We should become one. If we were just more like Canada and, in the words of The Who, "join together with the band"?

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Author: Rudo Kupeta

Date of post: 2007-04-02