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5 years ago (2015) 67 countries were considered as having English as their official language, meaning their primary language. 27 more countries were considered having English as a secondary language. The number of people overall speaking English is around 1.5 billion. In 1920 25% of the earth's population was speaking English. English, needless to say, is an important language and one of the six official languages of the United Nations. In French, there is an expression describing Latin or Ancient Greek as “une langue morte”, literally “dead language.” When a language is not “dead”, it is normally evolving. This is a natural phenomenon and English being in usage all over the world is no exception. It is not Babel tower however and pretty much anyone from anywhere can understand each other. But of course, they will have to pay attention to the context because real differences exist, and it is possible because of the differences to lose the exact meaning of what is being said. Doing my research for this article I even found out, to my surprise, that language differences and variations have been used as a political tool. Noah Webster, an American lexicographer, and politician published a dictionary accentuating all the differences between British English and American English. His idea was to demonstrate the specific cultural identity of the United States, a colony aspiring to become independent from England. Politic aside, other factors can influence language evolution. In England, for example, French was the official language of the court for a very long time. Old French was the second language for the nobility and this is still visible in the spelling of British English. Color for us is colour for them, flavor, flavour etc... This is not a big deal and it is not difficult to ignore this difference. Another difference more puzzling: the collective noun can be plural: example: “the jazz band are playing tonight”. Wow! this sounds weird in American English. Another distinction is with the auxiliary verb. British English will say “shall we go?”. An American will say “should we go?. British English as we see tends to be more formal. When we analyze both languages the main difference, however, is the vocabulary. The State Department years ago did a beautiful illustration with cartoons the many differences. For example: “a flat” is not a damaged tire, but an “apartment”. What about now a “block of flats”? (Apartment building). How does it sound to you? A “dustbin” becomes simply a “trash can” in America. Our “first floor” is their “second floor” and the “elevator” to get there is a “lift” in their language. Not really confusing, but, you certainly need to pay attention to the context not to get lost, isn't it? “Isn't it” is a tag question that is also frequently used in British English and not so frequent in America. Other noticeable differences besides the vocabulary are grammar, idioms, spelling, and punctuation. Let's have a partial overview at some of these differences: grammar: we don't find too many differences in this domain. Please note that British English grammar is also evolving because of the influence of the United States culture. It is more and more of the same. Still, the past tense is one example of what is different: In America “learned” is the normal past tense and in England, they prefer to use “learnt” instead. It is true for most if not all past tense finishing in “ed”. “Got to” and “have to” are also distinct. Both are used on each side of the Atlantic pound but “got to” is more frequent in British English and “have to” is the preferred American way to say it. And so on, we could illustrate many other minor grammatical particularities. Idioms: they are words or phrases that aren't meant to be taken literally. “It cost an arm and a leg” means it is very expensive. A grain of American salt is a pinch of British salt. The same weight, by the way! “Peaks and troughs,” is converted in “peaks and valleys”. “I wouldn't touch it with a bargepole” equals “I wouldn't touch it with a ten-foot pole”. Spelling: Single vs. double consonants: the trick of the trade here is that the pronunciation is the same but the way of writing it differs.: example travelling and traveling (America). Cancelled (British) and canceled. Punctuation: Exert from “4 Key Differences Between American and British Punctuation”, In Grammar, By Constant Content, MAY 9, 2016. Source internet. “Here are some common ways that the two differ.” “1. Dates When writing a date, Americans put month, day and year in that order. So, December 25, 2015 would be 12/25/2015. The British (and most of the rest of the world’s) practice is to list the day, month, then year. So, the same date would be 25/12/2015. To avoid confusion, writing out the month is probably your best tactic. 2. Titles In American English, Mr., Ms., and Mrs. all have periods. In British, however, no periods are used. 3. Time When denoting time, the British system uses periods—noon would be 12.00—while the American system uses colons (12:00). 4. Quotes This is a fun one! British style uses single quotation marks for initial quotations, and then double quotes when there is a quotation inside the quotation. The British also put punctuation that is not part of the quotation outside the quotation marks. Americans do the opposite on both counts.” On a final note let's talk about pronunciation. Of course, the British and American pronunciation is not the same. However, the differences are not just between these two poles. In other words, pronunciation varies all over the world from one English country to the other, and sometimes within one single country itself. A person from Boston doesn't drawl like a southerner from Georgia. The accent from New Zealand is distinct from Australia. The language from English Canada is closer sometimes to the language of England. That is the beauty and versatility of the English language!