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American English Vs. British English  
User currently offlineDFWLandingPath From United States of America, joined Aug 2001, 211 posts, RR: 0
Posted (11 years 12 months 21 hours ago) and read 2743 times:

When talking to a foreign exchange student from Germany the other day, she said that one of the wierdest things for her in her first days in the US was going from the British English that she learned in school and the American English that she was now emmersed in. For those non-native English speakers out there, what version of English did you learn and where did you learn it? Which do you find easier to use around the world?


63 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
User currently offlineQb001 From Canada, joined Apr 2000, 2053 posts, RR: 4
Reply 1, posted (11 years 12 months 20 hours ago) and read 2725 times:

I learned English Canadian, which is closer to British English than to American English.

I like it better because it's closer to French, thus easier to remember.
French: couleur
British (Canadian): colour
American: color

French: organiser
British (Canadian): to organise
American: to organize


When I have to work in English, I set the MS Word language setting to Canadian English.

Never let the facts get in the way of a good theory.
User currently offlineAPT From Germany, joined Feb 2004, 65 posts, RR: 0
Reply 2, posted (11 years 12 months 20 hours ago) and read 2717 times:

Like almost every other German pupil I learned British English from the old-fashioned teachers (50+). They absolutely disliked using American English but now that I had few younger teachers over the last 2 years I found out that they don't care whether you like British English Or American English better. Some of them even speak American English themselves.
So you see things aren't that strict anymore.


User currently offlinePhotopilot From Canada, joined Jul 2002, 3091 posts, RR: 16
Reply 3, posted (11 years 12 months 20 hours ago) and read 2712 times:

They are both English, but I dare say.... one country butchers it less than the other.

American English is less formal, more slang orientated, and brought us new words such as "ain't", "cain't", "you'all" and other regionalisms.

But then again, any country that spells lieutenant, yet pronounces it leftenant hasn't got it all together either.

But hey, what do I know... I'm a Canuck...eh!

User currently offlineZak From Greenland, joined Sep 2003, 1993 posts, RR: 7
Reply 4, posted (11 years 12 months 20 hours ago) and read 2706 times:

american english always reminds me of people unable to tell the difference between "their/there" etc. i guess multiple choice education takes its toll there.
i use british words mostly and pronounce it in a mixture dominated by american english  Smile

[Edited 2004-02-17 03:03:56]

User currently offlineDFWLandingPath From United States of America, joined Aug 2001, 211 posts, RR: 0
Reply 5, posted (11 years 12 months 20 hours ago) and read 2702 times:


It's 'y'all'  Big grin


User currently offlineLan_Fanatic From Chile, joined Sep 2001, 1071 posts, RR: 5
Reply 6, posted (11 years 12 months 19 hours ago) and read 2683 times:

The english I learnt is an hybrid.

For example, I learnt about neighbour and colour, but at the same time about trucks and roosters instead of lorries and cocks.

User currently offlinePhotopilot From Canada, joined Jul 2002, 3091 posts, RR: 16
Reply 7, posted (11 years 12 months 19 hours ago) and read 2682 times:

Awe shucks DFWLandingPath..... we all tried our best cept we be lackin in formal yankee words.

User currently offlineLH423 From Canada, joined Jul 1999, 6501 posts, RR: 52
Reply 8, posted (11 years 12 months 17 hours ago) and read 2667 times:

American English is less formal, more slang orientated

I partially agree with this sentence. While formal American English may a bit more relaxed than British English, I find the Brits have way more slang/colloquialisms that Americans.


« On ne voit bien qu'avec le cœur. L'essentiel est invisible pour les yeux » Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
User currently offlineEmiratesA345 From Canada, joined Jun 2003, 2123 posts, RR: 8
Reply 9, posted (11 years 12 months 16 hours ago) and read 2657 times:

" learned English Canadian, which is closer to British English than to American English"

I disagree. Our Canadian English is definitely more similar to the American English. Although some Americans have an accent (to me) such as the New Yorker accent, or the South Carolina accent, the words are almost the same except for some slurrs. I find that the majority of Americans that I have spoken to speak the same way I do.

EmiratesA345 Smile/happy/getting dizzy

You and I were meant to fly, Air Canada!
User currently offlineMD-90 From United States of America, joined Jan 2000, 8526 posts, RR: 11
Reply 10, posted (11 years 12 months 13 hours ago) and read 2632 times:

I understand that yankee is a colloquialism for an American, but I can assure you that no yankees say y'all. At least none that I've ever heard.

My favorite is yea. "It's yea long or yea wide." (pronounced, yay). Yea can be anything from 1/10" to a couple of tens of miles.

I love english but I sure wouldn't want to have to learn it. I've done German and I'm doing Latin now and they are both much more structured and easier to learn (especially Latin).

And if we count rappers' language then American English definately has more slang...

User currently offlineSebolino From France, joined May 2001, 3735 posts, RR: 4
Reply 11, posted (11 years 12 months 13 hours ago) and read 2625 times:

The most important is not the spelling you learnt, but the accent.

I for sure didn't learn American accent at school, but it wasn't British neither. In fact I was very surprised when I came to London at 13, people were talking with a very strange accent compared to what I was used to.

And I think the "family" were I was, was even stranger: in fact she was a journalist, and when she said "What did you do today ?" I clearly heard "What did you do to die ?".  Smile I wonder what was this accent. Anybody can tell me ?

User currently offlineS.p.a.s. From Liechtenstein, joined Mar 2001, 986 posts, RR: 2
Reply 12, posted (11 years 12 months 11 hours ago) and read 2607 times:

Hey Sebolino...

This reminds me an old joke..

English man, first time across the pond, arrives at NY goes to the hotel and decides take a sleep and see the city later.
Next day, about to cross a street, he obviously looks to the wrong direction, and unaware of a yellow cab racing down the street, stars walking. Indeed the driver manages to stop the car, inches from the Brit, and the driver jumps out of the car and yells...
-Hey dude, did you come here do die?
And our hero says: (note, please imagine strong accent)
-No sir, actually I arrived here yesterday

Maybe not very funny, but true indeed..



"ad astra per aspera"
User currently offlineDonder10 From Canada, joined Oct 2001, 6660 posts, RR: 20
Reply 13, posted (11 years 12 months 10 hours ago) and read 2604 times:

American English is certainly more colloquial when it comes to adverb.
England-He is playing really well.
US-He is playing real well.

User currently offlineCsavel From United States of America, joined Jan 2001, 1458 posts, RR: 4
Reply 14, posted (11 years 12 months 6 hours ago) and read 2572 times:

Canadian English is closer to American English, although the orthography is closer to British.

Case in point.

Canadians drive trucks, not lorries. Cars have hoods and trunks, not boots and bonnets. They use windsheild wipers, not windscreen wipers, and spark plugs as opposed to sparking plugs.
They eat eggplant, and not aubergines. (I think at least)
they say gotten, and don't use the British 'singluar plural" (The army are on maneuvers)

however, they use "to table a motion" in the British sense, stay in hospital, not in the hospital, and eat candy floss, not cotton candy. They fly return, rather than round trip (At least Air Canada does). Any Canadians can join in right now with more examples.
The accent, while unique, is closer to American, in that they pronounce their R's and say words like caught almost like cot (Some American say caught and cot exactly alike) British people say caught almost like New Yorkers, although more clipped.

Orthography-wise (How's that for an Americanism)
Canadians follow the British use in words like honor > "honour"
traveler and jeweler > "traveller" and "jeweller"
offense and defense > "offence, and defence"

But i think they use the z rather than the s in words like criticize, at least that is what I always see in Canadian papers.
They also use American spellig of words like jail, curb, and tire

All in all in interesting and beautiful hybrid.

I may be ugly. I may be an American. But don't call me an ugly American.
User currently offlineMYT332 From Australia, joined Sep 2003, 9118 posts, RR: 67
Reply 15, posted (11 years 12 months 5 hours ago) and read 2547 times:

English English is the proper English. All the others are just bastardised versions of our language.  Smile/happy/getting dizzy

One Life, Live it.
User currently offlineGreg From United Kingdom, joined May 2005, 0 posts, RR: 0
Reply 16, posted (11 years 12 months 5 hours ago) and read 2545 times:

Born and raised in SoCal....but to German and English parents. As well, studied in London for two years as an undergraduate.

No discernable accent...but my spelling on some things is a bit off:
centre, labour, honour, colour all come to mind. This is VERY confusing to Texans.....("Ya'll can put the luggage in the boot!")

User currently offlineTokolosh From Netherlands, joined Sep 2001, 366 posts, RR: 0
Reply 17, posted (11 years 12 months 5 hours ago) and read 2537 times:

What about South African English? A traffic light is called a "robot". I actually failed my driver's license because I called it a traffic light. But perhaps my accent wasn't thick enough  Smile

Did the chicken or the egg get laid first?
User currently offlineBanco From United Kingdom, joined Oct 2001, 14752 posts, RR: 52
Reply 18, posted (11 years 12 months 5 hours ago) and read 2535 times:

The leftenant/lootenant pronunciation of lieutenant is a fascinating one. I've seen various explanations of why we British say the former, which is clearly counter-intuitive. One is that the "u" was initially misread as a "v", another says that it was taken from leave-tenant,with leave being an anglicisation of the first half of the compound, "lieu". To be honest, neither of these ring especially true to me, especially when you consider that the Royal Navy historically had a pronunciation closer to the American one, L'f'tnt or L'tenant. So why did the army continue to so expressively say Leftenant? Very odd. Even more so when you hear Canadian officers say it the "British" way.

She's as nervous as a very small nun at a penguin shoot.
User currently offlineAirsicknessbag From Germany, joined Aug 2000, 4723 posts, RR: 31
Reply 19, posted (11 years 12 months 4 hours ago) and read 2519 times:

When I went to school we were always demonstrated both British and American orthography and terms.

Ever heard this one before?

Imagine an Italian tourist, speaking in tick accented English:

"One day I gonna to Malta to a big hotel, in the morning I go down to eat a breakfast. I tell the waitress that I want two pieces of toast. She brings me only one piece. I tell her "I wanna two pieces". She say "Go to the toilet". I say "you don't understand, I wanna two pieces on my plate". She say to me: "you better not piss on the plate, you sonnawabitch". I do not even know this lady and she call me a sonnawabitch !!

Later I go to eat at a bigger restaurant. The waiter brings me a spoon and a knife but no fork. I tell her "I wanna a fork" and she tell me: "everyone wanna fuck ". I tell her "you don't understand me... I wanna fork on the table". She say: "you better not fuck on the table you sonnawabitch" .

So I go back to my room in my hotel and there is no sheets on the bed. I call the manager and tell him "I wanna a sheet". he tell me to go the toilet. I say "you don't understand I wanna a sheet on my bed". He say: "you better not shit on the bed, you sonnawabitch".

I go to the Check out and the man at the desk said "peace on you", and I say: "Piss on you too, you sonnawabicth". I gonna back to Italy

Daniel Smile

User currently offlineAndz From South Africa, joined Feb 2004, 8582 posts, RR: 9
Reply 20, posted (11 years 12 months 3 hours ago) and read 2506 times:
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Reminds me of a sitcom (American) years ago when the trend seemed to be to have a British cast member in every show (a la Mr Belvedere)

One of the American cast members said to Lynn Redgrave "oh yeah, you're the one with the funny accent" (or words to that effect)

She replied, in an icy tone..."I speak English....YOU have the accent!'

After Monday and Tuesday even the calendar says WTF...
User currently offlineMD-90 From United States of America, joined Jan 2000, 8526 posts, RR: 11
Reply 21, posted (11 years 12 months 3 hours ago) and read 2500 times:

Real well is real wrong!

Unless you're a rapper on MTV, apparently.

User currently offlineBanco From United Kingdom, joined Oct 2001, 14752 posts, RR: 52
Reply 22, posted (11 years 12 months 3 hours ago) and read 2494 times:

Not forgetting the legendary occasion when an American director told Richard Burton to grab Elizabeth Taylor's fanny. Well, he did exactly what he thought he been asked to, but sadly the footage, though doubtless highly entertaining, has never seen the light of day.  Big grin

She's as nervous as a very small nun at a penguin shoot.
User currently offlineGDB From United Kingdom, joined May 2001, 13492 posts, RR: 76
Reply 23, posted (11 years 12 months 2 hours ago) and read 2486 times:

In the UK, 'smoking a fag' is inhaling tobacco.
In the US it could mean a hate crime.

Is it me, or is the US adopting some of our swear words?
Because you never used to hear Americans use 'wanker' as a term of abuse, in fact I've seen it as surnames in the credits of US films.
But in recent years I've heard it used in the British context by Americans.

User currently offlineArsenal@LHR From United Kingdom, joined Mar 2001, 7792 posts, RR: 17
Reply 24, posted (11 years 12 months 1 hour ago) and read 2473 times:
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"Canadian English"? That's new to me, i thought North American linguistics were essentially the same? i.e Cookies, Soda, Vacation and Mall etc?

In Arsene we trust!!
25 Post contains images LH423 : SODA?! Half the US and most of Canada say the must more annoying "pop". LH423
26 Cory6188 : Not everyone that speaks American English says slang terms such as "ain't" and "y'all". It really depends on what part of the country you are from - N
27 Banco : "ain't" is not American English, Cory6188. It has a long and glorious history in English going back many centuries. It just lasted on both sides of th
28 Pendrilsaint : Also, "Cain't" is not a seperate word like the ones mentioned above (y'all and ain't) it is just a regional pronunciation of it. (Southern) I have to
29 BN747 : What gets me is listening to the tower talk. I'm not sure if this is just Hong Kong (could be LHR and Sydney too) Example:Instructing an aircraft to t
30 Post contains images LH423 : Well, as the old phrase goes "Americans and English are divided by a common language" LH423
31 Photopilot : Here's some more for your amusement. American - Thruway British - Motorway Canadian - Highway But Canadians also use Parkways. British - Pavement Cana
32 Cory6188 : We call them highways, freeways, thuways, parkways, expressways, and turnpikes. It depends on the name of the road (i.e. Garden State Parkway, New Yor
33 BN747 : Whoa there fella.... it's Freeway!..like that thing you're speeding on! : DD BN747
34 ScarletHarlot : As a Canadian in the US, let me give you more examples of differences between American and Canadian English. Beneficiary: pronounced "beneFISHary" in
35 Post contains images JAL777 : How come we park on the driveway and drive on the parkway?
36 LH423 : Since the US and Canada are so large I'll post what's common in New England using the examples of others. For what Photopilot's examples we use the fo
37 Post contains images BN747 : Don't you mean Baas-ten? BN747
38 Post contains images ScarletHarlot : LH423: I've had clients and coworkers in New Jersey, Georgia, Illinois, and Texas all say beneficiary that funny way. They say it like that here in th
39 DETA737 : I grew up in Connecticut and have been in Canada since 2001 and have noticed some differences in spoken language between New England and Western Canad
40 Staggerwing : A couple of years ago, I was in my college bookstore buying my textbooks when a young man asked me in a very British accent, "Do you happen to know wh
41 Sebolino : The leftenant/lootenant pronunciation of lieutenant is a fascinating one. Banco, I'm not sure of that, but seeing the word lieutenant (which is the sa
42 Pe@rson : It's funny, as I believe Australians and New Zealanders use more 'British' words than they do anything else. I vividly remember a fun hour in Cairo (I
43 Post contains images Russophile : Australians have a reasonably pure English vocabularly -- Strine not withstanding however. What really pisses me off, is that bastardised English is m
44 Broke : Supposedly Winston Churchill is quoted as having said that the British and Americans are two peoples divided by a common language. In the 1950's and '
45 MD-90 : NO one down here says pop. It's a coke. Waitress, "Do you want a coke?" Me, "Sprite, please." and "How are you doing?" "Great, howboutchu?" It's not a
46 Ussherd : As Broke just said, the same regional differences definitely exist in Spanish. I just got back from Spain and some of my Venezuelan expressions seemed
47 PHX-LJU : Russophile wrote: "What really pisses me off, is that bastardised English is making inroads here." When you say "bastardized English," are you referri
48 GDB : 'Turf Accountants' are now much more commonly called 'Betting Shops' or more usually, 'Bookies'.
49 Ryangooner : The dialects, accents , different words we all use is what makes it so damn interesting to visit and meet the locals in the places we travel to round
50 Post contains images Banco : Sebolino, "lieutentant" is without doubt French in derivation. I was merely referring to the history of its pronunciation in Britain and the US. I ful
51 Post contains images Klaus : What about the different pronunciations of "route"? I usually use the "root" version, but I´ve often heard "raut" as well. Is it a matter of national
52 HAWK21M : We have a lot of the same out here. In Aviation We refer books of mostly American English,Whereas our Educational system is based on British English.S
53 LH423 : Interestingly enough, words can vary within just a few miles. Here in Massachusetts and Rhode Island we have three separate ways to call a place where
54 KC7MMI : I'm afraid I say "ant" instead of "awnt". I've always been taught that a freeway is a highway without stoplights. Infact, here in AZ we have US60 whic
55 Post contains images N766UA : Personally, I don't park on my driveway. I drive on my driveway to get to my garage. That's where I park. Or, to use "American English," I park in my
56 SlamClick : I'm not much aware of regional differences in England or Australia but here in the US there are more than just the well-known ones. Freeway is used al
57 B747skipper : Every language has dialects and local variations - xxx Luckily, the USA has Hollywood, exporting on TV and in theaters worldwide the brand of English
58 Csavel : SlamClick Large southern city? I would have thought it was Baltimore. I dated a woman from Ball'mur and they swallow their L's something fierce. hold
59 Post contains images ScarletHarlot : LH423: Yes about Hawaii and "Toilets"...I remember walking into Honolulu's terminal and seeing that and being surprised. Your friend in Vancouver is p
60 Post contains images Banco : "Toilets" is what you see on signs throughout the UK as well. It's one of those things that flummoxes us when we go to the States. No, we don't want t
61 Post contains images GKirk : Well I suppose as we are comparing UK and USA, then: UK: 3 Course Meal US: Snack
62 Post contains images Arsenal@LHR : LMAO Gkirk.................. filler............
63 Jsmith : I am currently reading a book by Melvyn Bragg called 'The Adventure of English'. It is a historical account of the development of the English language
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