Calling American English American

Ashley   Saturday, July 12, 2003, 21:58 GMT
I don't agree with calling American English American because it's the same language the UK and NZ and Scotland speak, and Australia, I think they should just keep calling it English, I do live in America but i don't agree with calling American English, American
Clark   Sunday, July 13, 2003, 02:17 GMT
I agree. There are not enough differences amoung the Englishes of the world to call them by different names. Sure accents might be hard to distinguish, but anyone who speaks in a non-standard accent can make himself understood to anyone who speak only a standard accent.
Jim   Monday, July 14, 2003, 01:07 GMT
The idea of a "standard accent" is rubbish. There is no standard accent, it's a myth.

But I agree with you both. American English is just a dialect ... more correctly, a collection of dialects ... of English. American English is not a different language. There's a good case for Scots to be considered a different language. Still, I'd consider even Scots a dialect of English. There is no case for American English to be considered a separate language.
Ryan   Monday, July 14, 2003, 02:18 GMT
A "standard accent" has existed for a while in Great Britain. First, it was known as a "public schools accent." Later, it became known as "BBC English." But the best description for it is Received Pronunciation (RP). I'm just as much against a standard accent as you are, Jim, but the fact is that it was impossible to get a professional job in England if one did not have an RP accent, and non-standard accents are still discriminated highly against there.

In the USA, there is a standard "Network American" accent (based on the Midwestern one, formerly based on the New York one) used by broadcasters. Major broadcasting outlets teach this accent to anybody who hopes to have a broadcasting career. However, we are definitely more lenient when it comes to accents than the Brits are, and we have thus elected quite a few presidents with "non-standard" accents.

If you listen to CNN, most everyone talks the same, even though they come from all areas of the country and from different cultures. Why? Because they have had accent training paid for by Ted Turner. The same goes for the other news channels. "Network Standard American" is not a myth. A standardized accent just isn't as important here as elsewhere.

Ryan   Monday, July 14, 2003, 02:24 GMT
Also, Scots is not a dialect of English, Jim. Scots developed independently of modern English and is therefore a different language. Both Scots and "Southern Isles English" were dialects of Old English, though.

Clark   Monday, July 14, 2003, 05:15 GMT
Sorry Jim, there is a "standard accent" for each English-speaking country. In Britain, it is RP, in America it is the "Midwest accent." I do not know what it is on other English-speaking countries though.
Rugger   Monday, July 14, 2003, 06:11 GMT
I don't think there is anything wrong with using "American english" when refering to the english spoken in the USA, because it encompasses the unique expressions, slang, spelling, pronounciation/accents that has seperately developed in the english used by Americans. The english language has been further subdived into "American english", "Australian english" and so on, because certain countries outside the UK, such as the USA, Australia, New Zealand, all have english as their first language and each is a varient of the english language originally from england. It is only logical to refer to the english of each country by geography. How else could I tell an American that the word fanny has a different meaning in Aussie english than in American english, without using the terms "American english" and "Australian english" as a means of distinguishing.
Redacted   Monday, July 14, 2003, 14:16 GMT
I agree with the term: American English. If the English-speaking American wish to call their form of English, American, I do not agree.

On a world-wide basis how would this become practical, the English spoken in Ireland and Wales isn't Irish or Welsh, it's Irish English and Welsh English, variations of the same language and not a seperate language. What of the Native-American languages?
Ryan   Monday, July 14, 2003, 17:21 GMT
Right, Redacted. They are all dialects of English. There is a difference between Scottish English and Scots, though. Scots is that barely understandable stuff the characters speak in Trainspotting. It is a separate language as that language did not come from Scottish people learning modern English and adapting it to their needs like the Welsh and Irish did when they started speaking English instead of their Gaelic languages. Scottish English is like what Sean Connery speaks.

There are many English-language creoles in the world that could technically be classified as separate languages.

Ryan   Monday, July 14, 2003, 17:24 GMT
I mean Celtic languages, not Gaelic. Obviously Welsh is not Gaelic.

Clark   Monday, July 14, 2003, 18:45 GMT
They did not speak Scots in Trianspotting. They had Edinburgh accents.

The Native American languages are in grave danger. Few people speak them.
Ryan   Tuesday, July 15, 2003, 01:15 GMT
Trainspotting is modern urban Scots the way it is spoken in Edinburgh today. It is most certainly not English as it uses entirely different grammatical constructions that are more akin to traditional Scots than English.

Alexander Bergs, a linguist at the University of Dusseldorf, wrote this in his recent survey of Modern Scots:

"Modern Scots lives in close contact with English and is (linguistically and
ideologically) strongly influenced by it, so that there is (still) an
eminent danger of erosion and loss, despite Scots being increasingly
used in literature and the media (as, for example, in Irvine Welsh's
'Trainspotting'). Outside literature, Modern Scots can be most
frequently heard in Glasgow, parts of the Scottish Borders, and

Are you Scottish, Clark? If so you are doing your language a great injustice by just saying it is an Edinburgh accent. You could at least do the respect of calling it a dialect and not an accent. Edinburgh-accented English, as read on Scottish news programs, is a whole different speech all together.

najeeb haddad   Tuesday, July 15, 2003, 01:29 GMT
hi how are you