English as a global language The English language varies around the
The English language varies around the world from country to country and can also vary within a country from region to region. English words can vary in meaning, spelling, pronunciation or in a combination of all three.
In different parts of the world, English words and phrases can mean different things to different people. This is quite evident when comparing West African English to American English. For example, a West African person might say, 'Where does your wealth reside'' or 'What honorable noun does your honour bear'' In American English this phrase could be equated to politely asking someone, 'Where do you live'' or 'What is your name'' Another example of the differences in meanings between the two varieties of English would be if a West African heard that someone had died, and said, 'wonderful.' In American English, a comment such as this would be understood as the West African saying that he was in some way happy or glad to hear that someone had died. This is not the case, for in West African English, by saying 'wonderful' he is making a comment about the act of dying and how 'it's full of wonder.' One more example would be if a West African said that New York is 'great to be in.' In American English, this comment would be understood as the West African saying that he enjoyed being in New York. In West African English, by saying that New York is 'great to be in,' he is saying that because New York is a big city, one could easily get lost or have trouble finding a particular place within the city.
English can also vary in spelling from country to country. When comparing British English with American English, there are numerous words that are spelled differently. Some examples of these words include: defence (British) and defense (American), centre (British) and center (American), analyse (British) and analyze (American), programme (British) and program (American), and labour (British) and labor (American). The pronunciation of some English words, as well as the use of slang words, can also vary from region to region within a single country. In most of America, words that end in 'ing,' such as 'hunting' and 'fishing,' are pronounced just as they are spelled. In Maine and New Hampshire however, people often drop the 'g' when pronouncing words that end in 'ing.' For example, a person from Maine or New Hampshire might pronounce the word 'hunting' as 'huntin,' or the word 'fishing' as 'fishin.' Another thing that people from Maine and New Hampshire will often do is to add an 'r' when pronouncing words that end in 'a.' For example a person from Maine or New Hampshire might pronounce 'pizza' as 'pizzar.' People in Maine and New Hampshire also have their own slang words, which they sometimes use in place of standard American English words. For example, a person from Maine or New Hampshire might say 'Jeezum Crow,' instead of 'Jesus Christ,' 'Aiyah' instead of 'yes,' or 'wicked' instead of 'very.'
All over the world there are different variations of the English language. English words can have different meanings, spellings, and pronunciations, depending upon the country or region in which one lives. Referring to the many varieties of English around the world, David Crystal predicts what may happen in the future:
We may, in due course, all need to be in control of two standard Englishes ' the one which gives us our national and local identity, and the other which puts us in touch with the rest of the human race. In effect, we may need to become bilingual in our own language.
International English. Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. 2006. 2 Nov. 2006.
Maine-New Hampshire English. Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. 2006. 2 Nov. 2006. .
O´Donnell, Holly. 'ERIC/RCS Report: Visiting Englishes of the World,' The English Journal Vol. 75 No. 3 (March 1986): 46-48.
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