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Teach English in Huangtuling Zhen - Zhuzhou Shi
Speaking of different types of dialects of English, the main thing that should be remembered is that there is not just one English language: there are American English, British English, Canadian English, South African English, Australian English, and some others. Even though all these types of English are pretty similar and can be understood by native speakers, there are still significant differences between them. In this essay, the key differences between British and American English will be described and discussed, including pronunciation, grammar, spelling and vocabulary. With regards to pronunciation, the first and the main difference is that some sounds are pronounced differently in British and American English. Take, for example pronunciation of ‘r’: in British English this sound disappears except vowels (for example the word ‘lord’ sounds similar to ‘laud’), while in American English the sound ‘r’ is pronounced in all positions. Another major difference is the pronunciation of the sound ‘a’, especially in the following words: laugh, path, grass, branch, half, can’t and fast. In American speech this sound is shorter than in an English one. Also, there are many similar words that are pronounced completely different in two languages. For example, the word been sounds similar to bean in British English, while in American English it sounds almost like bin. There are also differences in stress: Americans and British stress different syllables in certain words (garage, ballet, cigarette, and etc.), but in most cases it does not have an impact on understanding. Regarding grammar rules and syntax, American and British English are pretty similar, but there is still slight difference. For example, in past tenses Americans prefer to use regular forms of verbs, while British use irregular forms more often. The use of tenses is also different: the Present Perfect and Past Simple are interchangeable in American English in most cases, while in British English there are certain rules according to which the use of Present Perfect is important. For example, when the action in the past has the result now, Americans can use with Past Simple or Present Perfect, while British normally use Present Perfect only. For example, in America you can say both I have just lost my keys and I just lost my keys, while in the UK only the first sentence is correct. Another difference in terms of grammar refers to collective nouns: in British English such collective nouns as government, company, audience, team and etc can be either singular or plural, while in American English they are always singular (Darrah). With regards to spelling, there are also some well-known differences between two types of English. Some differences are systematic, while others are limited to certain words. For example, in Britain there are more words ending with –our, while in the US – with - -or. For example, colour is a British word, while color – is American (Finegan 351). Another difference in spelling is that British usually twin final consonants in unstressed syllables, while Americans do not: medallist (British) and medalist (American) (Cummings 26). The biggest confusion is usually caused by differences in vocabulary, since some words have completely different and opposite meanings in British and American English. For example, Americans call the type of shirt wearing underneath undershirt, while British call it vest. Also, the word flat in American English is usually used as an adjective (for example ‘a flat surface’), while the word flat in British English refers to apartment (type of housing). Thus, Americans will never say ‘I live in a nice flat’. There are also differences in some expressions. For example, in American public transport you might see the sign ‘Watch your step’, while in the UK it will be ‘Mind your step’ (McCarty 208) However, despite such differences, British and Americans usually do not have a serious issue with understanding of each other because they still speak the same language. Works Cited Cummings, D. American English Spelling. Baltimore: the John Hopkins University Press. 1988. Print Darrah, Glenn. A Guide to Differences Between British and American English. Spain: Stanley Editorial. 2000. Print Finegan, Edward. Language: Its Structure and Use. Boston: Thompson Higher Education. 2008. Print McCarthy, Michael. English Vocabulary in Use Upper-intermediate with Answers and CD-ROM. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 2012. Print