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The Prodigal Tongue: The Love-Hate Relationship Between American and British English

Key insights from Lynne Murphy's

The Prodigal Tongue: The Love-Hate Relationship Between American and British English


Key insights from Lynne Murphy's

The Prodigal Tongue: The Love-Hate Relationship Between American and British English

ratings:
Length:
7 minutes

A rigorous yet accessible examination of the English language and the politics surrounding its two predominant forms.

American English has long been seen by keepers of the British English flame as a corruption of their mother tongue. But how much of this belief is true of the differences between the varieties of the language, and how much is just a projection of the cultures that use them? “The Prodigal Tongue” points us to some possible answers.

Read this Snapshot if you:

  • Want to understand both the linguistic and cultural differences between British and American English
  • Are a fan of British movies and television and want to better understand the politics of British English
  • Care about language, where it comes from, and how it changes
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Introduction

It’s difficult to separate language from culture. But when we let our perceptions of a culture regarding language eclipse what’s actually being said in their language, we’ve already lost the game. American linguist Lynne Murphy, who teaches in Britain, understands the nature of this tendency and has spent her career trying to make sense of it.

In the case of the English language, according to Murphy, if we simply take the time to strip away our preconceptions and look at what the language is doing instead of debating the merits of American versus British English, we might come...

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