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July 13, 2011

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John

From this American's perspective, it is a shame that British English is losing some of its uniqueness. The two have, and can continue to exist side by side nicely.

Despite the trend, there still seem to be sufficient unique words, spellings and expressions to battle total change for quite a while. It may be a long time before we hear "He stepped up to the plate and hit the issue for six".

Great post. Thanks.

dw

What a load of rubbish/garbage!

British English is not "the original version" of English. 21st-century American English is a sister, not a daughter, of 21st-century British English. Both descend equally from the version of English spoken in these islands before the American colonies began.

Where American English and British English differ, the American usage is the older as often as the British is. Examples abound of the American usage being older: "fall" for "autumn"; "gotten" as the past participle of "get" to name but two.

The author is entitled to hold the belief that many American usages are "ugly", "horrors": that is a purely subjective claim. But he or she should not misstate linguistic history.

Virtual Linguist

Thanks to you both for those interesting comments.

Marc Leavitt

The author of the BBC article sounds like a founding member of the Queen's English Society. The battle between prescriptivism and descriptivism is turning in favo(u)r of the latter. To my mind, one of the cardinal virtues of English, in fact its greatest virtue, is its ability to take on words from other languages and dialects for the enrichment of the entire language. In America we do drive trucks, but most literate Americans know what a lorry is, and if an English person occasionally uses both words, the dialect isc thereby enriched. In addition, a number of words preferred in England ARE making inroads here. One brief example: more and more often, radio announcers (presenters) will report on a person being sacked instead of being fired. Both words are understood in the US, but fired was always preferred. Now we seem to have a choice. The French Academy doesn't work, never worked and never will work. When I lived in France, my friends loved to use English, turning the words into idiomatic French. For example: je suis tres relax (I'm feeling really comfortable). As Tennyson intoned, "Let the great world spin forever, down the ringing grooves of change."

John

I feel honoured in that I initially learnt American English, then attended a British school and learnt British English.

Today, I automatically phase in and out of both much as a multilingual person does. I trust the richness of both carry on, swapping words occasionally, but each retaining their own distinct character.

Virtual Linguist

All very good points. Thanks.

Mulberry UK Factory

I follow you VIA GFC and I love your blog!

sophie

This is an interesting one, my nephew learned English through my brother who is born and bred in Yorkshire and he lives in Germany where of course they have English lessons, they are taught American English and he seems to constantly fall out with his teacher over pronunciation.

charlotte

I think that everyone should be taught the same when it comes to English, English should be pronounced the British way and not the American way it just doesn't sound right.

ella

As long as we are learning English it really doesn't matter too much whether you are learning the American way or the English way it is all the same in the end surely.

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