One doesn’t have to be George Bernard Shaw to acknowledge the fact that ‘England and America are two countries separated by a common language.’
Having at least a little prior knowledge of English, and being blessed with the chance to visit both these countries (although one is a mid-size island, and the other a continent!) offers a good opportunity to spot the differences.
They are funny differences to me, or rather annoying to others (thanks to a fellow blogger for inspiring this post), however, quite important differences sometimes. If you can’t spell a word correctly or use an inappropriate term nobody will take your head off, but various communication breakdowns could occur.
As far as I experienced myself, I’d say that the most common (or commonest?!) consequences of mistakes in pronounciation are getting on the wrong bus, and ordering some food you didn’t want to… But I’m looking forward to anyone sharing even some worse experiences.
Making lists of different usages of words is beyond the purpose of this blog, but here’s a great site dealing with these linguistical stepsisters :-) What I would like to do here is just ask for my readers’ views about how English is spoken in the UK, in the USA, and in other parts of the world…
I’m only asking of few questions, followed by my own answers to them (an interview with myself – that’s pathetic, isn’t it?), and – God willing – maybe I’ll draw some interesting comments to this blog post.
1. Whose spoken English did you understand easier? The Brits’ or the Americans’?
- Americans of all walks of life speak inteligibly to me, while – irrespective of their regional accent – the Brits tend to speak more intelligibly, the higher their educational background is.
2. Which were the worst native speakers with whom you barely managed to communicate?
- Those in Glasgow were awful. Not only that I very often had to ask for a sentences to be repeated to me, but while I was sitting in the bus trying to eavesdrop on people’s conversations I was always asking myself ‘what language could it be?!’ – and it was no Gaelic or anything else, just English as spoken in Glasgow, also known as Glasgow Patter or Glaswegian.
3. Which of the two versions of English seems easier to learn?
- Obviously, the American one, which appeared to me as a relatively unitary language from California, to Iowa, Virginia and New York, while in the UK, from one county to another people could easily get the impression that they are listening to a different language.
4. Name an advantage (a plus) of the British language!
- The fact that, when pronounced correctly, there’s no chance for misunderstanding: ‘ear’ always sounds like ‘ear,’ not like ‘year,’ when you hear a Brit speak.
5. Name an advantage (a plus) of the American English!
- The fact that, no matter what their country of origin is, immigrants in New York learning American English end up speaking a more comprehensible language (at least to non-native speakers like I am) than immigrants in London. Given an Iraqi with no previous exposure to English, I tend to believe that you could understand him easier if he learned English in America, than if he did so in Britain.
*** NOTE: The British use two ‘l’-s in quarrelling, while the Americans only one, therefore writing quarreling
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