The English language got its name from “Angles”, a Germanic tribe that had migrated to Great Britain. People in early medieval England first started using English, a language whose vocabulary is dominantly influenced by other Germanic languages. As civilisations evolved, many variants of the English language also came to the fore. While British English is the authentic form of the language, other variants such as American English and Canadian English are also widely spoken in the present-day world.
This blog will walk you through the variations of the English language and how they are different from each. Read on to find out more!
Difference between British English and American English
- Spelling: The one factor that makes the difference in the two forms of the language obvious, is the spelling. Noah Webster, the American lexicographer, is the reason for the minor spelling variations in the two forms. In the late 1700s, as part of Noah’s effort to reform the English language so that words are spelt as they sound and America’s declaration of independence from England, many spelling variations were brought on to the English language. For instance, labour (British English spelling) became labor, thus giving way to the American English variation.
- Vocabulary: Vocabulary is the foundation of developing a language. Keeping this in mind, many new words were coined as part of the American form of the language. For instance, the front of the car is called bonnet in British English, whereas it is called the hood in American English. Similarly, in America, people live in apartments, whereas in Britain they are called flats. Many such distinctions in the vocabulary used sets the two forms of the language apart.
- Grammatical differences: There are certain grammatical differences between the two variations of the English language. These are pertinent to aspects such as collective nouns, past tense verbs and prepositions. An example of differences in the usage of collective nouns is that for Americans, a collective noun is a single entity. On the other hand, for the British, it is a plural entity. For instance, in American English, they say, “The band is great.” Whereas the British say, “The band are great.” The usage of prepositions is also quite varied in the two language forms. For instance, in British English, it is “at the weekend”, whereas in American English it is “on the weekend”.
- Numeric representation: When spelling out numbers, British include the word “and” between the tens and units. The number 191 would be spelt out as one hundred and ninety-one in British English and as one ninety-one in American English. In American English, the month always comes before the day while pronouncing a date, for example, August 8. In British English, it is the opposite, with the day preceding the month – 8 August.
The linguistic differences between the two forms of language are plenty. However, it doesn’t mean that someone who is well-versed in one form cannot understand the other form at all. A lot of variations in the English language are also brought upon by cultural and geographical differences. If you want to hone your English-speaking skills and understand the intricacies of the language, you can opt to study an English course in London. It will not only help you build confidence but also make you well-versed in what is popularly called the lingua franca.