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Comparison of American and British English This is one of a series of articles about the differences between British English

and American English, which, for the purposes of these articles, are defined as follows: British English (BrE) is the form of English used in the United Kingdom. It includes all English dialects used within the United Kingdom. American English (AmE) is the form of English used in the United States. It includes all English dialects used within the United States.

Written forms of British and American English as found in newspapers and textbooks vary little in their [1] essential features, with only occasional noticeable differences in comparable media (comparing American newspapers with British newspapers, for example). This kind of formal English, particularly [2][3] written English, is often called "standard English". The spoken forms of British English vary considerably, reflecting a long history of dialect development amid isolated populations. In the United Kingdom, dialects, word use and accents vary not only between England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, but also within them. Received Pronunciation (RP) refers to a way of pronouncing Standard English that is actually used by about two percent of the UK [4] population. It remains the accent upon which dictionary pronunciation guides are based, and for teaching English as a foreign language. It is referred to colloquially as "the Queen's English", "Oxford English" and "BBC English", although by no means all who live in Oxford speak with such accent and the [5] BBC does not require or use it exclusively. An unofficial standard for spoken American English has also developed, as a result of mass media and geographic and social mobility, and broadly describes the English typically heard from network newscasters, commonly referred to as non-regional diction, although local newscasters tend toward [6] more parochial forms of speech. Despite this unofficial standard, regional variations of American [citation English have not only persisted but have actually intensified, according to linguist William Labov.

Regional dialects in the United States typically reflect some elements of the language of the main immigrant groups in any particular region of the country, especially in terms of pronunciation and vernacular vocabulary. Scholars have mapped at least four major regional variations of spoken American [7] English: Northern, Southern, Midland, and Western. After the American Civil War, the settlement of the western territories by migrants from the east led to dialect mixing and levelling, so that regional dialects are most strongly differentiated in the eastern parts of the country that were settled earlier. Localized dialects also exist with quite distinct variations, such as in Southern Appalachia and New York. British and American English are the reference norms for English as spoken, written, and taught in the rest of the world. For instance member nations of the Commonwealth where English is not spoken natively, such as India, often closely follow British English forms, while many American English usages are followed in other countries which have been historically influenced by the United States, such as the Philippines. Although most dialects of English used in the former British Empire outside of North America and Australia are, to various extents, based on British English, most of the countries concerned have developed their own unique dialects, particularly with respect to pronunciation, idioms and vocabulary. Chief among other English dialects are Canadian English (based on the English of United [8] Empire Loyalists who left the 13 Colonies), and Australian English, which rank third and fourth in number of native speakers. For the most part American vocabulary, phonology and syntax are used, to various extents, in Canada; [9] therefore many prefer to refer to North American English rather than American English. Nonetheless Canadian English also features many British English items and is often described as a unique blend of the

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two larger varieties alongside several distinctive Canadianisms. Australian English likewise blends American and British alongside native usages, but retains a significantly higher degree of distinctiveness from both of the larger varieties than does Canadian English, particularly in terms of pronunciation and vocabulary. Ten differences between UK and US English. Some differences between UK and US English are well documented. For example, most people know that football is a different game in North America and the UK, and any American in the UK quickly learns not to talk about fanny packs. But there are also some more subtle differences that might stymie visitors to Britain, especially those who have learnt American English. Linguistics lecturer Dr Lynne Murphy rounds up ten of the subtler US/UK miscommunications. 1. Toilet For Americans, this is a piece of porcelain. For the British, it is also a room that contains that particular piece of porcelain. If an American tells you she got stuck in the ladies toilet, offer her a towel and a hairdryer. 2. Quite Before an adjective, American quite means very, while British quite means somewhat. So, if the American tourist is quite tired, direct him to his bed. But if a Brit tells you a restaurant is quite good, youd be wise to keep looking for somewhere better. 3. Moot In addition to quite, British and American Englishes have other Janus words whose meanings look both ways. A British moot point is open to discussion, but for an American, the discussion has been declared pointless. The UK Parliament puts legislation on the table for discussion, but the US Congress tables the legislation they dont want to discuss and puts matters for discussion on the floor instead. A British speakers nervy athlete would be a bundle of nerves, but an Americans has got a lot of nerve (and probably a mouth to match). And while homely means comfortable in a home-like way in Britain (and much of the Commonwealth), in America it is a way of describing a person as ugly. 4. Heatwave The meteorological definition of heatwave is anomalously hot weather that lasts for days, but hot and anomalous are both relative terms. British newspapers will declare a heatwave after three days of 25C (77F) weather. In other words, a British heatwave is everyone elses nice summer weather. 5. Please Americans say please just not always where the British expect to hear it. The British say please when ordering food in restaurants (or requesting things in shops) because they view the action as a personal request to the waiter. Americans regard ordering as providing the waiter with the information he needs to do his job, so they say Ill have the chicken. As language blogger B en Trawick-Smith has noted, please can add connotations of impatience and exasperation to an American request. 6. Pants Americans dont use the word trousers much, and when they do, it only applies to menswear. Instead, Americans wear pants on their lower halves. When those garments inevitably get damaged on their travels, their wearers sometimes make public proclamations about the stains on their pants. Even more inevitably, they are regarded with horror or laughed at, since British pants usually refers to underpants.

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7. Fag The British do a lot with the words fag and faggot, which can be a shock to people who only know them as derogatory words to refer to gay men. Fag is British slang for a cigarette, so smokers pop out for a fag and they might try to bum (or pinch) a fag off you. But fag can also be a bother. Going out to buy more cigarettes in the rain can be a bit of a fag. Faggots, meanwhile, are found on menus; they are a kind of meatball made of (usually pork) organ meats, served with gravy and potatoes. Since no one ever seems to order any, its possible they stay on menus just to shock American tourists. 8. Republican The recent Jubilee has led some British people to talk more about a republicanism that has nothing to do with Mitt Romney. British republicans would like the UK to be a republic, rather than a monarchy. British republicans are likely to be considered politically left-wing, unlike American Republicans, who are named after the small-r republican ideals of the American Revolutionary War (or the American War of Independence, as the British call it). Now, of course, American Republican is almost synonymous with social and fiscal conservatism. 9. Subway Follow signs pointing to a subway in London, and youll find yourself either at the ubiquitous American fast-food joint or in an underground tunnel. And there in the tunnel, youll find confused Americans looking around for the trains. While the New York subway is a railway under the citys streets, in London it is a pedestrian way beneath a road. 10. Half British time-telling differs from American in several ways, with the 24-hour clock confusing any American who hasnt served in the military. Half-eight to mean 8:30, provides another pitfall particularly for non-Brits who know German or Swedish, where it would mean half way to 8, or 7:30. Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx American antenna apartment baggage cab can candy chips closet cookie corn cuff diaper drapes elevator eraser British aerial flat luggage taxi tin sweet crisps wardrobe biscuit maize turn-up nappy curtains lift rubber Spanish antena departamento equipaje taxi lata caramelo papas fritas (en bolsa) armario galletita maz dobladillo del pantaln paal cortinas ascensor goma de borrar

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fall faucet fender first floor flashlight fries garbage garbage can garbage collector gas pedal gasoline gear shift highway hood jello kerosene license plate line mail movie movie theater odometer overalls pajamas pants parking lot period pinafore Scotch tape side mirror sidewalk muffler sneakers soccer splash guard stove subway

autumn tap bumper ground floor torch chips rubbish dustbin dustman accelerator petrol gear lever motorway bonnet jelly paraffin number plate queue post film cinema milometer dungarees pyjamas trousers car park full stop duster Sellotape wing mirror pavement silencer trainers football mudflap cooker underground

otoo grifo paragolpes planta baja linterna papas fritas (calientes) basura tacho/cubo de basura basurero acelerador gasolina palanca de cambios autopista cap gelatina queroseno patente cola, fila correo pelcula cine contador de kilmetros jardinero, peto pijama pantalones estacionamiento punto delantal cinta adhesiva espejo retrovisor lateral acera silenciador zapatillas ftbol guardabarros cocina metro

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