Delta-Flyer: Not sure if you misunderstood me, but "aeroplane" is very much in use these days in the UK, in exactly the same way as "airplane" stateside. It's not an extinct saying. Besides, an "aerodrome" is usually military, whilst an "airport" is civilian. Just another example of different usage, I suppose!
LH423, I was amused about you saying that people can't spot the difference between Canadians and Americans, as a number of the Americans and Canadians I know can't either! I think there is a difference, the vowels in Canada are usually more rounded and there is a difference on emphasis within both words and sentences, but I would suggest that they are similar enough to be confused.
On that subject I am always amazed by the number of Americans who think that Southern English people are Australians! This is particularly so amongst those from London. I suppose it shouldn't be that surprising since the original white settlers in Australia (the convicts) were largely from London and that is from whence the accent derives. I would say that if many Americans can't spot the difference between a Londoner and an Aussie, we shouldn't be so surprised if they can't tell apart an American and a Canadian!
Equally, I understand that the basic elements of the North American accents were from the English accents at the time, particularly in the west country, with later variations arriving with the diffferent waves of immigration. As a result, it is at least possible that if you were to transplant an Englishman of 400 years ago into the modern age he might sound much more like an American than an Englishman. There is, of course, no way to prove this but much of the verse of the time supports what we now believe to be North American intonation, the separation across the centuries isolated the US from the changes in the UK in the manner of speaking. I always find this wonderfully ironic as you hear so many people complaining about the general pervasiveness of American accents!!
The long "a" in southern England spoken English (i.e. baath, caastle, graass etc) didn't develop until relatively late (18th/19th century I believe) and was an affectation by the aristocracy of the time. As is so often the case it was taken up by much of the rest of the population. Indeed, in certain parts of the US (I've heard it in Vermont and Maine for a start) many people did likewise once the two countries began increasing commercial links, essentially because it raised their social status in their eyes, and of course their offspring continued with it as they knew no other way of speaking.
Contrary to popular perception, the long "a" is not used by all Brits, nor even by all the English. It is essentially confined to the South Eastern corner of England, although the rise of the media, particularly the BBC, has created a certain commonality of pronunciation. By the way, NO-ONE spoke with that plum-in-the-mouth accent of the 1930's BBC and newsreels!
I would strongly recommend a book about all of this by Bill Bryson, called Mother Tongue, where he goes into the language in considerable depth. The outcome is boh amusing and informative.
I guess this has gone a bit off topic, but I for one find it interesting! I hope I haven't bored you...
She's as nervous as a very small nun at a penguin shoot.