Tuesday, 23 February 2016

British English Vs American English

Note: This post is a mere collection and doesn’t treat the differences exhaustively.
          The differences listed here are generalisations. It should certainly not be inferred
          that all AmE or BrE speakers will use the varying language features ascribed to them
          here.

1. Differences
Let’s take a look at a few of the differences between the two varieties.

1.1  Pronunciation
1. the consonant ‘r’
    (a) (i) In British English (RP), this is pronounced when it comes before a vowel sound:
                round /raʊnd/     regard /riga:d/
         (ii) In British English, it’s pronounced when it’s followed by another word beginning
                with a vowel sound:
                her arm /hɜːr a:m/      far away /fa:r  əˈweɪ/

(b) In American English (GA), this is always pronounced with the tongue rising upward
      and curling inward; it’s said that Americans roll their r’s.

word           BrE               AmE                   word            BrE              AmE
abort           /əˈbɔːt/           /əˈbɔːrt/               beard          /bɪəd/            /bɪrd/
arm            /ɑːm/              /ɑːrm/                  beer            /bɪə/              /bɪr/
divorce     /dɪˈvɔːs/          /dɪˈvɔːrs/              here            /hɪə/              /hɪə/             

word          BrE              AmE                    word           BrE              AmE 
poor          /pʊə/             /pʊr/                     appear       /əˈpɪə/           /əˈpɪr/    
sure          /ʃʊə/              /ʃʊr/                      affair         /əˈfeə/           /əˈfer/
tour          /tʊə/              /tʊə/                      bear          /beə/              /ber/
   
2. the letter ‘a’
(a) this is pronounced as /ɑː/ in BrE and /æ/ in AmE:       
     word          BrE               AmE
     ask             /ɑːsk/             /æsk/
     bath           /bɑːθ/            /bæθ/

    a few more words in this group are:
    basket, branch, castle, class, draft, flask, glass, passport, pass, path, staff

    But  ‘wasn’t’ is pronounced as /wʌznt/

3. The letter ‘o’
   (a) This is pronounced as /ɒ/in British English and /ɑː/ in American English
         cod /kɒd/     cop /kɒp/      possible /ˈpɒsəbl/  /ˈpɑːsəbl/
   
         a few more words in this group are:
         abscond, abolish, accommodate, body, bother, not, coffee, economy, gossip, object  

    (b) This is pronounced also as / ɔː / in American English
          chocolate /tʃɔːklət/    dog  /dɔːg/

4. The letters ‘au’
    These are pronounced as /ɒ/ in British English and /ɑː/ in American English
   because /bɪˈkɒz/   /bˈkɑːz/   caught  /kɒt/   /kɑːt/     caution /kɒʃn/     /kɑːʃn/

    A few more words
    law, laundry, launch, caustic, cauliflower

5. The letter ‘u’
    This letter is pronounced as /juː/ in British English and /uː/ in American English
    assume /əˈsjuːm/   /əsuːm/   news  /njuːz/    /nuːz/

    A few more words
   attitude, avenue, resume, consume, gratuity, minute(adj)

6. change of diphthong  the British /əʊ/ to the American English /oʊ/
    go /əʊ/  /goʊ/     no/əʊ/    /oʊ/   crow  /krəʊ/    /kroʊ/ 
    promotion /prəməʊʃn/    /prəmoʊʃn/   romantic  /rəʊmæntɪk/   /roʊmæntɪk/

7. The ‘i’ in ‘ization’ is pronounced differently:
   civilization    }        /aɪ/ in British English and /ɪ/ in American English    
   organization  }
   authorization }
   globalization }

8. The letter ‘t’ coming in the middle can be pronounced as ‘d’ in these words in American
    English:
    better         water     hated      writing   bottom     native    artificial      notice

9. ‘ile’ are pronounced differently: /aɪl/ in British English and  / əl/ in American English
    agile    /ˈædʒaɪl/   /ˈædʒ əl/  
    fertile      hostile     versatile
    mobile (adj) /moʊbəl/  and mobile (noun) /moʊbiːl/ in American English 
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1.2 There’s difference in syllable stress:
                                    British                   American
      ballet                      /ˈbæleɪ/                   /bælˈeɪ/  
      brochure                /ˈbrəʊʃər/                /broʊˈʃʊr/
      garage                   /ˈgærɑːʒ/                 /gərˈɑːʒ/
     vaccine                  /ˈvæksiːn/               /vækˈsiːn/             
     advertisement        /ədˈvɜːtɪsment/      /ˈædvərˈtaɪzmənt/

In American English, the verb is often stressed on the first syllable:
deˈcrease (Br)     ˈdecrease (Am)    reˈsearch (Br)   ˈresearch (Am)

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 1.3 Spelling
1. –our and –or     
                                           
Br
Br/Am
Am
armour
colour
favour

neighbour




glamour
armor               
color
favor
glamor*1
neighbor

2. –ll- and –l-

Br
Br/Am
Am





jewellery
councillor
counsellor
(un)equalled
install
marvellous

travelled
traveller
woollen
controller
controlled
councilor
counselor*1
(un)euqaled*1
instal
marvelous
jewelry
traveled*1
traveler*1
woolen*1



3. –re and –er

Br
Br/Am
Am
centre



metre


fibre
litre
meagre

sombre
theatre
acre
center
fiber*1
liter *1
meagre*1
meter
somber*1
theater*1


4. –l and –ll

Br
Br/Am
Am




instal

skilful
appal
distil
enrol
fulfil
install*2
instalment

wilful
appall*1
distill*1
enroll*1
fulfill*1

installment
skillfull
wilfull*1

5. –ae- /-oe- and –e 

Br
Br/Am
Am


anaesthetic


foetus
haemorrhage
manoeuvre
archaeology
aeon

encyclopaedia*2
encyclopedia*2



aerial
archaeology
eon
anesthetic


fetus
hemorrhage
maneuver


6. –ence and –ense 

Br
Br/Am
Am
defence
licence (n)

offence
pretence


license (v)
defense
license (n)

offense
pretense

7. –ogue and –og

Br
Br/Am
Am

analogue
catalogue
dialogue
prologue*2
travelogue*2
rouge
analog
catalog*1
dialog
prolog
travelog


8. –amme and –am

Br
Br/Am
Am


programme
Aerogramme
program (computer)

telegram
kilogram
aerogram

program

9. –ou and -o
mould—mold,  moulder—molder,  smoulder—smolder,  shoulder—shoulder

10. other common differences

Br
Br/Am
Am
analyse
paralyse





storey
(building)





cheque (money)
dependant (n)




kerb
maths

speciality
sulphur
tyre (wheel)
vice


cosy

ageing
eyeing
likeable


embed*2
enclose*2
ensure
indefinable
axe

dependent (n)
grey
plough
practise (v)
practice (n)


sceptical

analyze
paralyze
cozy

aging
eying
likable
story

imbed
inclose
insure
undefinable
ax
check
dependent (n)
gray
plow
practice (v)
practise (n)
curb
math
skeptical
specialty
sulfur
tire
vise

Note: *1 the usual spelling in American English
          *2 the usual spelling in British English

11. verbs ending in ‘-ize’ or ‘-ise’
The ‘ize’ spelling can be used in American, Australian and British English, and is the spelling used in the dictionary. The ‘ise’ spelling is found frequently in British and American English. The following words (which are not all verbs) should always be given the ‘ise’ ending in all varieties of English. Words are groups by pronunciationl

aɪz
advertise, advise (v), arise, clockwise, compromise, despise, devise, disguise, enterprise (n), exercise, otherwise, revise, supervise, surprise, wise

 z
expertise (n)

aɪs
 concise (adj), precise (adj)

source: Chamber’s Dictionary
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1.4 Vocabulary
The differences you see below are the most common ones.
Kitchen

Br
Am
tap
cooker
cutlery
bin
fridge
dish rack
wash basin
flannel
washing powder
sieve
tin-opener
lemon-squeezer
cooling tray
grill
roasting tin
loaf tin
Faucet
stove
silverware
wastebasket
refrigerator
plate rack
sink
wash cloth
laundry detergent
sifter
can-opener
juicer
cooling rack
broil
roasting pan
loaf pan

2. car

Br
Am
car
aerial
bonnet
windscreen
number plate
indicator
sidelight
boot
wing
wing mirror
tyre
rear light
reversing light
silencer
exhaust (pipe)
speedometer /
mileomter
accelerator
gear stick
handbrake
petrol
overtake
car/auto(mobile)
antenna
hood
windshield
license plate
blinker / turn signal
parking light
trunk
fender
side mirror
tire
tail-light
backup light
muffler
tail pipe
odometer

gas pedal
gear shift
emergency brake
gas
pass

3. Road

Br
Am
pavement
kerb
traffic light
railway
lorry
zebra crossing /
pedestrian
T-junction
roundabout
tailback
toll gate
slip road
motorway
ring road
breakdown truck
side walk
curb
stop light
railroad
truck
cross walk

intersection
traffic circle
traffic jam
toll booth
ramp
interstate
beltway
tow truck

4. Office
Br
Am
lift
caretaker

bin
wage (pay) packet
wastepaper basket
notice board
drawing pin
Sellotape/ sticky tape
rubber
car park
mobile phone
elevator
janitor /
custodian
trash can
paycheck
waste basket
bulletin board
thumbtack/ tack
scotch tape
eraser
parking lot
cell/ cellular phone

5. bank

Br
Am
cheque
counterfoil
current account
note
check
stub
checking account
bill 

6. miscellaneous

Br
Am
shop
shop assistant
biscuit
flat
ground floor
lift
board and lodging
timetable
film      
luggage    
long-sighted (eye)             
short-sighted (eye)
ECG
nappy
cot
pram
anti-clockwise
unit trust
trade union
theme park
torch
minute hand
hour hand
chemist
chemist’s
lavatory
jug
cotton buds
draughts
trousers
(under)pants /
underwear
vest (under  a shirt)
waistcoat
pullover
quilt
murder

store
salesclerk
cookie
apartment
first floor
elevator
room and board
schedule
movie
baggage
far-sighted
near-sighted
EKG
diaper
crib
baby carriage
counter clockwise
mutual fund
labor union
amusement park
flash light
big hand (clock)
small hand (clock)
druggist
drug store
bathroom
pitcher
cotton swabs
checkers
pants
underpants /underwear

undershirt
vest
sweater
duvet
homicide
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1.5 Grammar
AmE - Do you have any siblings?
BrE - Have you got any brothers or sisters?
AmE - It is important that she be told.
BrE - It is important that she is told.
AmE - The jury has not yet reached its decsion.
BrE - The jury have not yet reached their decision.
AmE - Go get your book.
BrE - Go and fetch your book.
AmE - He dove into the water.
BrE - He dived into the water.
AmE - You must come visit me real soon.
BrE - You must come and visit me really soon.
AmE- Jake has gotten real fat.
BrE – Jakc has got real fat
AmE –Carrie spelled the word correctly.
BrE –Carrie spelt the word correctly
AmE-I think I lost my camera.
BrE –I think I’ve lost my camera.
AmE-The shop is open Monday through Saturday.
BrE –The shop is open from Monday to Saturday.
AmE-We should leave by ten of eight.
BrE –We should leave by ten to eight.
AmE-It’s quarter after seven.
BrE –It’s quarter past seven.
AmE-She’s always leaving her clothes around.
BrE --She’s always leaving her clothes about.
AmE-The group has shown little interest in this project.
BrE -- The group have/ has shown little interest in this project.

1.6 Usage
This was a trick question because in fact all of the sentences are more likely to be said or written by an American than a Briton! Here they are again with their English equivalents:
AmE - I'll try and visit you on the weekend.
BrE - I'll try to visit you at the weekend.
AmE - Please write me when you arrive.
BrE - Please write to me when you arrive.
AmE - Call me as soon as you get there.
BrE - Ring me (phone me) as soon as you get there.
AmE - Most everyone has a telephone and a refrigerator these days.
BrE - Almost everyone has a telephone and a fridge these days.
AmE - If you make a mistake, you'll just have to do it over.
BrE - If you make a mistake, you'll just have to do it again.
AmE - He was born 3/27/1981.
BrE - He was born on 27/3/1981.
AmE - The soccer team won two to nothing (2-0).
BrE - The soccer team won two-nil (2-0).
AmE - She arrived at twenty of two.
BrE - She arrived at twenty to two.
AmE - The secretary said, "Mr. Clinton will see you soon."
BrE - The secretary said: "Mr Clinton will see you soon."
The difference in the last two sentences is in the punctuation.
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1.7 A few more differences
British and American English can use certain prepositions differently as in these examples (Brit vs. Amer):
At the weekend vs. On the weekend
In a team vs. On a team
Talk to John vs. Talk with John
Different to vs. Different than
Where are you? vs. Where are you at? (informal)

There are also some small differences between idioms in the two varieties (Brit vs. Amer):
A storm in a teacup vs. A tempest in a teapot
Flogging a dead horse vs. Beating a dead horse
Touch wood vs. Knock on wood
Sweep under the carpet vs. sweep under the rug

AMERICANISMS IN BRITISH ENGLISH
Over the last few decades, British English has come under increasing influence from American English. This is because the majority of television programmes, films and music are exported to the UK from the States and people pick up words and expressions they are commonly exposed to, thus bringing them into general usage. Conservatives argue this is damaging British English, while liberals say it is a natural process of language evolution and change. Whichever side you are on, the fact remains that American is the dominant form of English in the world and has the greatest influence on its other varieties through the mass media and popular culture.

1.8 Examples of Americanisms in modern British English:
Can I get a… (Brit. Can I have a…)
Two times (Brit. Twice)
On the weekend (Brit. At the weekend)
I’m good (Brit. I’m fine/well)
Period (Brit. Full stop)
Write me (Brit. Write to me, write me an email)
Take a shower (Brit. Have a shower)
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