With the establishment of the European Union and the need to communicate in english
, among other languages, certain intra-European standards were needed. This paper is based on review the standards as well as one’s own experience, namely derived from the so-called “British english
” and “American english
”, along with english
used in context by non-native speakers. (References and additional information may be found in english
, European Commission Directorate-General for Translation)
serves as a reference for writers and translators in-house, mainly between EU agencies and wider general readership. The preference is clearly British english
, owing to that U.K.’s membership in the EU. The main difference then is to discern the difference between it and American english
. This may be explained in the difference in linguistics, but clearly agreed that english
is one language, with equal status.
Some highlights of linguistic differences include:
1) Americanism vs. Briticism, where one word is used for another, both having the same meaning (e.g. gasoline vs. petrol), words that have an American realm (e.g. bayou and caucus); words with American origins but are now used as common in British english
(e.g. bug and boss); and conversely, words of British origins now commonly only in America (e.g. apartment and rooster). The difference is not only in words but in phraseology. For example, whereas an American talking on the phone might say, “I am through” with the intended meaning that the call is finished, and english
man might mean to say that the connection was successful.
2) Differences in Pronunciation, generally agreed by most as the “major difference”, including British[a] as American [ae] before f, s, m, n (e.g. ask, path, chance); the leaving out the r sound for most Americans; the pronunciation of [ae:] for the British [o], e.g. not, proctor, gloss; the pronunciation of some irregular past tense words, e.g. ate, with British [et] vs. American [eit]; and the differences in pronunciation of commons words, such as Asia and schedule.
3) Differences in grammar, including examples of usage of plural form (British) vs. the singular form (American), including government/company are vs. is; placement of the infinitive, e.g. I have told him to finish quickly finish the (American) vs. I have him to finish quickly (British); and the difference in form of the past tense, including American’s learned vs. learnt.
4) Differences in spelling, including the honour, flavour, centre, and travelled, vs. honor, flavor, center, and traveled.
In conclusion, there are several differences in the two linguistics of the same language. Where, again, most people would notice the difference in pronunciation, the greatest difference (and perhaps the greatest challenge in communication) is the in meaning and intent: “Do you have any children
?” When asked by an American, a British woman might replay, “Only one every few years.” I also recalled asking a Singaporean student, “Where were you born?” His answer in perfect and perhaps logical english
(if there is such a thing) was, “I was born in a hospital.” The latter is an example of the difference in culture for native users of non-Anglo origin.