European View of American English

Newbie   Tuesday, June 08, 2004, 16:07 GMT
Interesting stuff...but I still am not sure if my question was answered. Do Europeans view Americans as being a nation without a heritage language?

If I seem too dense because I have not found my answer from the replies, I must apologize for this; sorry.

However, I must agree with Damian that Americans have an very isolationist attitude towards anything "foreign."
Paul   Tuesday, June 08, 2004, 18:12 GMT
Your question is a bit vague.
I would like to divide Europeans into 3 groups, as far as this question goes.
1. The British.
2. European countries where their own language has an international presence. (i.e. France, German, Italian)
3. Smaller European countries, where there are many languages used or where their language is seldom used outside of their own country.

1. The British consider the Americans to be using a bastardized version of their own Heritage language. They think of it as an inferior or Pidgin form of British English, with a very hard to understand accent.

2. The Big European Countries consider American English to be a less important and less culured variety of British English. Definately, not a Heritage Language.
Also the they are concerned about their own people borrowing this popular American Slang, and actively discourage its use.

3. Scandinavian Countries and some other small European Countries consider American as a valid variant British English. They would perhaps
consider it as a new Heritage language
and recognize the importance of English, with all its Jargon, Slang and Yiddish Expressions, as a useful Global language.

For America, to become the "Great Melting Pot", there was a lot of stress on newcomers to learn proper American English.

I don't know any other country which has absorbed so many different cultures and languages over the centuries since the 18th century.
Heritage is more than just time, it is the amount change and evolution in meaning of the words, to fit a new and growing culture.
In that sense it is a Heritage Language. But most of Europe does not acknowledge this fact.

Regards, Paul V.
mjd   Tuesday, June 08, 2004, 18:16 GMT

What you described we'd call a "construction yard." Our "yards" in back of our houses etc. are "backyards" (yards for short).
Damian   Tuesday, June 08, 2004, 19:48 GMT
America may have its faults.....where on this planet is there a perfect place? Nowhere! I think it is amazing how America has welcomed and absorbed people from so many cultures over the years and merged into the powerful country it is today and given them so many opportunities to contribute to the energetic society with a positive attitude. It is good that the rest of the world can benefit from the many good things that come out of America, but at the same time make a stand against the bad or less desirable things, and there really are some!

What happens in America tends to happen over here some time later (speaking for the UK anyway, as our two countries are similar in cultures) so we can use that as some sort of warning if they are things we can do without and make sure we avoid them.

I keep banging on about going to America soon (I hope) and hearing different accents for myself and the way English is spoken there. My financial situation (not good! LOL!) will determine how far and wide I can go over there. I'm still a student, for goodness sake! It's great that there is an American English language, but separate from British English. No doubt Americans feel the same way.

A lot of Americans like British accents, but to be honest it does not operate in the opposite direction quite so much. Just the way things are.....sorry! No offence, honest! :-)
Dulcinea del Toboso   Tuesday, June 08, 2004, 20:40 GMT
What is the connotation that the American accent has in the UK and Europe? What about Asia?

Americans seem to be enchanted with any accent whatsoever, whether it is British English or a German who speaks English with a German accent. It seems that there are relatively few accents that Americans regard as low class or that have a negative connotation.

To clarify my question above, let's suppose you are at school or at work and someone there (not a tourist, obviously) speaks with an American accent. Ignoring any political issues associated with the U.S., what thoughts come to mind?
Paloma   Tuesday, June 08, 2004, 23:05 GMT
"Americans seem to be enchanted with any accent whatsoever, whether it is British English or a German who speaks English with a German accent."

Sorry, but I don't think that's true at all. People who don't speak with a GenAm, British, or Commonwealth accent are usually subject to ridicule in the US media, e.g. Gov. Schwarzenegger's Austrian accent, GW Bush's Texan accent, J-Lo's low-brow thriftshop accent, the Nanny's Queens-yenta screech, "Donatella Versace" on Saturday Night Live, all those trailer trash people who appear on Jerry Springer, etc. I would hardly say that Americans are enchanted by the way they speak.

"It seems that there are relatively few accents that Americans regard as low class or that have a negative connotation. "

Sadly, I've witnessed several fellow Americans react rudely or dismissively towards people who speak with Latin American or Asian accents. And people from the South and the outer boroughs of NY are usually written off as low class and stupid.
Ryan   Wednesday, June 09, 2004, 00:17 GMT
When I was in the UK, I got a few "bemused looks" when I spoke, but nobody ever gave me a hassle about my accent. I think it helped that I was not the typical American tourist, ie, not with a large group of people and being very loud. I think the British would be more accepting of American accents if we would behave better when we are in their country.
Dulcinea del Toboso   Wednesday, June 09, 2004, 00:35 GMT
I'll agree that Latin American, Asian, and the Southern U.S. accents are generally considered low class. Jerry Springer, whose show I've had the misfortune of watching once, seems to mine the South for his guests. Hollywood has done a great injustice to the South for many decades.

I think a lot of people like Schwarzenegger's accent, even though they satirize it.

"J-Lo's low-brow thriftshop accent" Heh heh heh.
Cervantes   Wednesday, June 09, 2004, 00:39 GMT
Which one is better "grey" or "gray"?
Juan   Wednesday, June 09, 2004, 02:21 GMT
It's a universal thing, making fun of other people's differences. The Brits do it all the time! Human nature tends to see what one is as "normal' and anything else as "abnormal". It ain't no biggie.
Ryan   Wednesday, June 09, 2004, 02:52 GMT
The J-Lo comment is kind of racist. She has a New York Puerto Rican accent, the same as half the cast of West Side Story. There is nothing at all wrong with it. Of course, there is definitely something wrong with her, personally.
Dulcinea del Toboso   Wednesday, June 09, 2004, 03:00 GMT
Sancho Panza's ass is called the "grey", at least in Putnam's translation (which I consider the best).

Both spellings are correct, but I think "gray" is more common in the U.S.
Cervantes   Wednesday, June 09, 2004, 03:13 GMT
So "they" could be spelt as "thay," ah?

I'm just learning English. I need to know the reason why.
Cervantes   Wednesday, June 09, 2004, 03:28 GMT
Key is not pronounced cay. (ki:) NOT (kei). Then "quay" is like "key."

Wow, I'm learning tough stuff!
Dulcinea del Toboso   Wednesday, June 09, 2004, 04:23 GMT
Either accept the language the way it is spelled or learn a different one. English isn't going to change its spelling for you and you aren't going to change it.