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  • Writer's pictureMark Rocha

American Versus British English - Why is it different?

Updated: Apr 11, 2023

English is one of the most spoken languages in the world and it's spoken differently in different parts of the world. American English and British English are two of the most popular dialects of the language. Despite the fact that the two dialects are based on the same language, they have significant differences in terms of pronunciation, spelling, and vocabulary. In this blog post, we'll take a closer look at the differences between American and British English and explore the reasons behind these differences.



Pronunciation Differences

One of the most noticeable differences between American and British English is pronunciation. Americans tend to pronounce words more clearly and enunciate each syllable, while British English speakers tend to speak faster and with less clarity. For example, the word "schedule" is pronounced with a "sh" sound in American English, while in British English, it's pronounced with a "k" sound. Similarly, the word "tomato" is pronounced with a long "a" sound in American English and a short "a" sound in British English.


One of the most well-known differences in pronunciation is the pronunciation of the letter "r." In American English, the letter "r" is pronounced in most words, while in British English, it's only pronounced when it's followed by a vowel sound. This means that words like "car" and "park" are pronounced with an "r" sound in American English, but in British English, the "r" is silent.


Spelling Differences

Another noticeable difference between American and British English is spelling. The two dialects have different spellings for certain words, which can be confusing for learners of the language. For example, the word "color" is spelled with a "u" in British English, as "colour." Similarly, the word "center" is spelled as "centre" in British English. In American English, words like "analyze" are spelled with a "z" while in British English, it's spelled with an "s" as "analyse".


Another example is the word "traveled." In American English, the word is spelled with just one "l," while in British English, it's spelled with two "l's" as "travelled." This can be confusing for people who are learning the language because they may not know which spelling to use.


Vocabulary Differences

There are also significant differences in vocabulary between American and British English. While the two dialects share many words, there are many words that are unique to each dialect. For example, in American English, people use the word "sidewalk" to refer to the path that runs alongside the road. In British English, this path is referred to as the "pavement." Similarly, in American English, people refer to the hood of a car as the "hood," while in British English, it's called the "bonnet."


There are also many words that have different meanings in American and British English. For example, in American English, the word "fanny" is a slang term for the buttocks, while in British English, it's a slang term for the vagina. Similarly, in American English, the word "biscuit" refers to a small, soft, and crumbly baked good, while in British English, it refers to a small, hard, and crunchy baked good.


Reasons for the Differences

The differences between American and British English can be attributed to a number of factors, including historical, social, and cultural reasons.


Historical Reasons

One of the main reasons for the differences between American and British English is their different historical roots. English is a Germanic language that has its roots in the Old English spoken in England over 1,000 years ago. Over time, the language evolved and developed different dialects, including American and British English. American English developed from British English, but it was influenced by other languages and dialects, such as the languages spoken by Native Americans, African slaves, and immigrants from other parts of Europe. As a result, American English has adopted many words and expressions from other languages, which are not used in British English.


Social Reasons

Another reason for the differences between American and British English is social. American English and British English developed in different societies and cultures, and therefore have different linguistic norms and conventions. For example, in the United States, the population is more diverse, and there is a greater emphasis on individualism and informality. As a result, American English tends to be more informal and relaxed than British English.


Cultural Reasons

Cultural differences also play a role in the differences between American and British English. The two cultures have different values, attitudes, and ways of life, which are reflected in the language. For example, American English has many words and expressions related to consumer culture, technology, and popular culture, which are not as prevalent in British English. Similarly, British English has many words and expressions related to the monarchy, class, and the countryside, which are not as prevalent in American English.


Conclusion

In conclusion, the differences between American and British English can be attributed to a variety of factors, including historical, social, and cultural reasons. While the two dialects share many similarities, they also have many differences in terms of pronunciation, spelling, and vocabulary. These differences can be confusing for people who are learning the language, but they also make English a rich and diverse language with many different variations and dialects. Ultimately, the most important thing is to be able to communicate effectively in English, regardless of which dialect you use.


At Something With M, when we write content, we predominantly write using British English unless directed otherwise. So, if you're looking to get your website content redone, your next novel proofread, or maybe you need some awesome blogs written - such as this one, get in touch with us today, and we'll be happy to help!

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