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Canada Goose online and American English

Some parts of this article use accent marks to indicate stress and pronunciation: for an explanation and table, see English spellings; there is also a key at the foot of this page

Between British English and American English there are numerous differences in the areas of vocabulary, spelling, and phonology. This article compares the forms of British and American speech normally studied by foreigners: the former includes the accent known as Received , or RP; the latter uses Midland American English, which is normally perceived to be the least marked American dialect.fcanadagooseonline Actual speech by educated British and American speakers is more varied, and that of uneducated speakers still more. Grammatical and lexical differences between British and American English are, for the most part, common to all dialects, but there are many regional differences in pronunciation, vocabulary, usage and slang, some subtle, some glaring, some rendering a sentence incomprehensible to a speaker of another variant.

American and British English both diverged from a common ancestor, and the evolution of each language is tied to social and cultural factors in each land. Cultural factors can affect one’s understanding and enjoyment of language; consider the effect that slang and double entendre have on humour. A joke is simply not funny if the pun upon which it is based can’t be understood because the word, expression or cultural icon upon which it is based does not exist in one’s variant of English. Or, a joke may be only partially understood, that is, understood on one level but not on another, as in this exchange from the Britcom Dad’s Army:

Fraser: Did ya hear the story of the old empty barn?

Mainwaring: Listen, everyone, Fraser’s going to tell a story.

Fraser: The story of the old empty barn: well, there was nothing in it!

Americans would understand part of the joke, which is that a barn that is empty literally has nothing in it. However, in Commonwealth English, ‘there’s nothing in it’ also means something that is trivial, useless or of no significance.

But it is not only humour that is affected. Items of cultural relevance change the way English is expressed locally. A person can say “I was late, so I Akii Bua’d (from John Akii Bua, Ugandan hurdler) and be understood all over East Africa, but receive blank stares in Australia. Even if the meaning is guessed from context, the nuance is not grasped; there is no resonance of understanding. Then again, because of evolutionary divergence; people can believe that they are speaking of the same thing, or that they understand what has been said, and yet be mistaken. Take adjectives such as ‘mean’ and ‘cheap’. Commonwealth speakers still use ‘mean’ to mean ‘parsimonious’, Americans understand this usage, but their first use of the word ‘mean’ is ‘unkind’. Americans use ‘cheap’ to mean ’stingy’, but while Commonwealth speakers understand this, there is a danger that when used of a person, it can be interpreted as ‘disreputable’ ‘immoral’ (my grandmother was so cheap). to bring up for discussion, in Commonwealth English.

English is a flexible and quickly evolving language; it simply absorbs and includes words and expressions for which there is no current English equivalent; these become part of the regional English. American English has hundreds of loan words acquired from its immigrants: these can eventually find their way into widespread use (spaghetti, maana), or they can be restricted to the areas in which immigrant populations live. So there can be variances between the English spoken in New York City, Chicago, and San Francisco. Thanks to Asian immigration, a working class Londoner asks for a cuppa cha and receives the tea he requested. This would probably be understood in Kampala and New Delhi as well, but not necessarily in Boise, Idaho.

Cultural exchange also has an impact on language. For example, it is possible to see a certain amount of Americanization in the British English of the last 50 years. This influence is not entirely one directional, though, as, for instance, the previously British English ‘flat’ for ‘apartment’ has gained in usage among American twenty somethings. Similarly the American pronunciation of ‘aunt’ has changed during the last two decades, and it is considered classier to pronounce ‘aunt’ in the Commonwealth manner, even for speakers who continue to rhyme ‘can’t’ and ’shan’t’ with ‘ant’. Australian English is based on the language of the Commonwealth, but has also blended indigenous, immigrant and American imports.

Applying these same phenomena to the rest of the English speaking world, it becomes clear that though the “official” differences between Commonwealth and American English can be more or less delineated, the English language can still vary greatly from place to place.

Some of the differences listed here are not absolute.

What the British call bars Americans call measures. Note, however, that American politics is overall more right wing/conservative than British.

Americans regularly say someone has won a plurality in an election. This usage is almost unknown in Britain, where it would tend to mean they got more than one vote. The corresponding term in Britain is majority, or where more clarity is required simple majority or relative majority. In America, majority is not used in this sense, always meaning what in Britain is called an absolute or overall majority.

British politicians are elected to represent constituencies in the House of Commons, or wards in local councils. Americans generally represent districts.

American usage has a term “logrolling” to refer to an agreement among politicians to support each other’s pet proposals (“You help me roll my log and I’ll help you roll yours”).