Differences between American & British English

Chantal   Wednesday, May 21, 2003, 08:02 GMT
As a French, I love both American and British accents. I enjoy listening to the BBC and I love to speak to my American friends. Nevertheless, it seems to me that American accents in spite of their varieties are cooler and easier to understand.
Simon   Wednesday, May 21, 2003, 08:15 GMT
America = power and sex
Britain = old world, former imperial power

Therefore American accents are bound to sound cooler.

Why they are easier for you to understand is a good question.
Unitedstatish is an English word   Wednesday, May 21, 2003, 08:51 GMT
But the well-recognized truth that our language is largely made up of interchangeable facts did not calm his dismay. We know what a foot is; therefore we can say ‘she footed it gracefully,’ or speak of foot-troops or footers. To toe the mark is a legitimate development from the noun toe. Tiptoed is a simple employment of the franchise of our language, a franchise that Shakespeare and countless others have taken full advantage of. In fact, Richardson used it in ‘Clarissa Harlowe’ as far back as 1747: ‘Mabel tiptoed it to her door.’ But even if he did not, why should not I.?” Mr. Hughes is bitter against the “snobbery that divides our writers into two sharp classes—those who in their effort to write pure English strut pompously and uneasily in Piccadilly fashions, and those who in their effort to be true to their own environment seem to wear overalls and write with a nasal twang.” Between the two extremes he evidently prefers the latter. “Americans who try to write like Englishmen,” he says, “are not only committed to an unnatural pose, but doomed as well to failure, above all among the English; for the most likable thing about the English is their contempt for the hyphenated imitation Englishmen from the States, who only emphasize their nativity by their apish antics. The Americans who have triumphed among them have been, almost without exception, peculiarly American.” Finally, he repeats his clarion call for a formal rebellion, saying:

"But let us sign a Declaration of Literary Independence and formally begin to write, not British, but UNITEDSTATISH. For there is such a language, a brilliant, growing, glowing, vivacious, elastic language for which we have no specific name. We might call it Statesish, or for euphony condense it to Statish. But, whatever we call it, let us cease to consider it a vulgar dialect of English, to be used only with deprecation. Let us study it in its splendid efflorescence, be proud of it, and true to it. Let us put off livery, cease to be the butlers of another people’s language, and try to be the masters and the creators of our own".
///   Wednesday, May 21, 2003, 08:58 GMT
Meanwhile, various Americans imitate John Fiske by abandoning the defense for the attack. When, in 1919, a British literary paper 42 presumed to criticise the Americanisms in American advertisements, the editor of the Indianapolis Star replied with a vigorous denunciation of current Briticisms. “In British fiction,” he said, “with the omission of a few writers rated as first class, badly constructed and even ungrammatical sentences are by no means uncommon, and even the books of the ‘big’ authors are not immune from criticism. As for slang, certain colloquialisms and peculiarities of English speech appear so frequently in even the pages of Wells and Galsworthy as to be irritating. Right-o is an example; bloody and beastly, as applied to commonplace happenings, are others; the use of directly with a meaning quite unlike our usage, and many more of their kind, jump at American readers from the pages of English novels, and are there usually without intent of the writers to put color or accuracy into their delineations, but merely as a part of their ordinary vocabulary and with unconsciousness of any differences between their own and American usages.”
Other Americans remain less resolute, for example, Vincent O’Sullivan, whose English schooling may account for his sensitiveness. In America, he says in the London New Witness, 43 “the English literary tradition is dying fast, and the spoken, and to a considerable extent, the written language is drawing farther and farther away from English as it is used in England.” He continues:

"To most English people, many pages of the published sermons of Billy Sunday, the evangelist, would be almost as unintelligible as a Welsh newspaper. But is Unitedstatish at its present point of development a language or a lingo? Professor Brander Matthews does not hesitate to liken it to Elizabethan English for its figurative vigour. US figures, however, are generally on a low level. When Bacon calls floods great winding-sheets, he is more impressive than when the Pennsylvania Railroad announces that there is a wash-out down ‘round Harrisburg, Pa. It would, in fact, be impossible to express any grand or moving thought in Unitedstatish; humour, homely wisdom, yes; but not grandeur".

Leaving aside the intellectual value of either, Bishop Latimer’s sermons are in the plain language of his time, and they easily maintain themselves on heights that Billy Sunday never gets a clutch on, even for a moment. It is a fair claim that US English is more vivid than English. So much for the literati. The plain people of the two countries, whenever they come into contact, find it very difficult to exchange ideas. This was made distressingly apparent when US troops began to pour into France in 1917. Fraternizing with the British was impeded, not so much because of old animosities as because of the wide divergence in vocabulary and pronunciation between the doughboy and Tommy Atkins—a divergence interpreted by each as a sign of uncouthness in the other. The Y. M. C. A. made a characteristic effort to turn the resultant feeling of strangeness and homesickness among the Unitedstatish to account. In the Chicago Tribune’s Paris edition of July 7, 1917, I find a large advertisement inviting them to make use of the Y. M. C. A. clubhouse in the Avenue Montaigne, “where US English is spoken.” At about the same time an enterprising London tobacconist, Peters by name, affixed a large sign bearing the legend “Unitedstatish spoken here” to the front of his shop, and soon he was imitated by various other London, Liverpool and Paris shop-keepers. Earlier in the war the Illinoiser Staats-Zeitung, no doubt seeking to keep the sense of difference alive, advertised that it would “publish articles daily in the US language.”
///   Wednesday, May 21, 2003, 09:04 GMT
The characters chiefly noted in Unitedstatish speech by all who have discussed it, are, first, its general uniformity throughout the country, so that dialects, properly speaking, are confined to recent immigrants, to the native whites of a few isolated areas and to the Blacks of the South; and, secondly, its impatient disregard of rule and precedent, and hence its large capacity (distinctly greater than that of the English of England) for taking in new words and phrases and for manufacturing new locutions out of its own materials. The first of these characters has struck every observer, native and foreign. In place of the local dialects of other countries we have a general Volkssprache for the whole nation, and if it is conditioned at all it is only by minor differences in pronunciation and by the linguistic struggles of various groups of newcomers. “The speech of the United States,” says Gilbert M. Tucker, “is quite unlike that of Great Britain in the important particular that here we have no dialects.” “We all,” said Mr. Taft during his presidency, “speak the same language and have the same ideas.” “Manners, morals and political views,” said the New York World, commenting upon this dictum, “have all undergone a standardisation which is one of the remarkable aspects of US evolution. Perhaps it is in the uniformity of language that this development has been most note-worthy. Outside of the Tennessee mountains and the back country of New England there is no true dialect.” “While we have or have had single counties as large as Great Britain,” says another US observer, “and in some of our states England could be lost, there is practically no difference between the Unitedstatish spoken in our 4,039,000 square miles of territory, except as spoken by foreigners. We, assembled here, would be perfectly understood by delegates from Texas, Maine, Minnesota, Louisiana, or Alaska, from whatever walk of life they might come. We can go to any of the 75,000 postoffices
Simon   Wednesday, May 21, 2003, 09:04 GMT
I don't have problem with Americans doing whatever they want. I have a problem with my English language as an Englishman being called British English to denote it as being typical not of the United Kingdom as a whole but of that geographical and cultural entity to the south of Scotland and the east of Wales, whetther you call it England or Yookay or Brittun.
Axel to private joke and nuke washington   Wednesday, May 21, 2003, 11:00 GMT
T'es pas un peu con, toi, là? Tes blagues sont bien merdiques et j'aimerais bien savoir où tu veux en venir.
Finalement, tu vaux pas plus que ceux que tu critiques.
more jokes for Axel   Wednesday, May 21, 2003, 15:58 GMT
Q: How do the US and the UK know Iraq has weapons of mass destruction?
A: They kept the receipt.

What do you call a pretty girl in New York? A French tourist

The French people wish to express to the Unitedstatish people that while we do not like President Georgette W(for wimp) Bushette, we do not hold the Unitedstatish people responsible for his election. After all, it's not like most of you voted for him or anything.

What do you call a Unitedstatish guy interested in French culture ? An intellectual.
What do you call a French guy interested in Unitedstatish culture ? A retarded.

Question : How many Unitedstatish does it take to catch and prosecute child-abusing polygamists?
Answer: No one knows: it's never been tried.

Give me a synonym for « citizen of the USA »
« greasy shit-eating war-losing sissy »

True story. Background : two guys in a train facing each other.
The first one stands up and then expectorates a thick gob of spit that’s brushed against the right ear of the other one. Then the former guy clears his throat and disgorges another copious amount of mucus that’s once again just missed the left ear of the latter guy, still sitting.
Then the spitting guy went : « I’d like to introduce myself. My name is Tim Burlington, citizen of the USA. I am the spitting world champion ».
The other guy stands up and coughs out a thick, pasty, viscid, gummy, sticky, sick, twisted gob of phlegm bang in the middle of the face of the Unitedstatish.
And then he ends : « Nice to meet you. I’m Pierre Martin, French amateur ».
José Vicente   Saturday, May 24, 2003, 16:25 GMT
I think that Southern English from UK is much more clear than many US English accents because they sound vowels in a clearer way, for example, in England words like "limit" and "rabitt" don't rhyme together with words like "abbot" or "carrot", American English People speak faster, it is more fluent than British English and make no distinction between words like "writer" and "rider" despite the fact American People may have the subjetive idea of making a difference. American People sound words like water like "wawder", I've never heard an American person making a clear "t" between vowels, they make a "tap" instead, similar to Spanish simple "r". American English is very similar to Irish English and I don't agree with that said about intonation, American English use different intonations because, for example, the lengthen short vowels in stressed positions. And there are many accents similar to British English in New England area.
David Bosch   Saturday, May 24, 2003, 17:23 GMT
I agree with you José, abd yes I hadn't noticed that the Irish is very similar to the American.

I agree with you relating the USwith power, but why with sex?
Besides sex is practised in each and every country across the globe, if somebody asked me to relate a country with sex, I would rather say
Holland, because of Amsterdam and all that.

Te fact that you relate UK with old imperial power must be the monarchy, but despite that, the UK is full of technology and is modern as well. You are stucked in the 1500's about Britain.
Mike   Saturday, May 24, 2003, 21:18 GMT
I don't like how American accents seem to be regarded as less intellectual than the English accent by many people. Even American news stations all have their "experts" with no other qualifications for their jobs outside of their ability to speak with an accent that people consider to be intelligent.
Simon   Monday, May 26, 2003, 08:31 GMT
Power = Sex

Sexiness. USA is sexy. Amsterdam has sex but it's evil sex. Amsterdam's an evil place full of blood sucking parasites and their victims. Amsterdam is not sexy.

You are right, the United Kingdom has a lot of modernity but still many of the facets of life have been shaped for better or for worse by the imperial experience. Think of why we have curries, for example. That's an imperial legacy.
hp20   Tuesday, May 27, 2003, 02:56 GMT
whoa, what? tell me more about that, simon, i'd never heard that about amsterdam before.
Simon   Tuesday, May 27, 2003, 08:23 GMT
Amsterdam has prostitutes, sex shows, drugs etc. People think of it as bohemian etc. but it's capitalism in its unharnassed raw form. Many people end up on the wrong side of the winning and losing line. The prostitutes are mostly forced to do it against their will. There is a nice side to Amsterdam but it's rotten underbelly is very rotten.
Audrey   Sunday, June 01, 2003, 04:31 GMT
Someone posted...
>6/ Winston Churchill spoke British English - Georgette Bushette can't >actually even speak Unitedstatish English

Winston Churchill's mother was "unitedstatish