Future of English Considering its Derivatives Across the World
2019-05-21 Elizaveta Pachina Alumni Experiences
From the time of the American revolution and onward, there has been a distinctive trend for American English and British English dialects to move away from each other. Whether taught in American English or British English, most people of either type will have little trouble understanding each other. Unlike the many dialects of China, English is a pretty ubiquitous language across the board, with a spattering of unique regional words.
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Jeffrey G. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.
Rise of American Variant
The 2 most prominent English dialects were intertwined throughout their collective histories because the British were a colonizer of the empty lands of America. The colony and the mainland started together, but the dialect slowly diverged over time. Interestingly, different dialect styles were more preferred in one era and in the past in contrast to recently. British English was the world's English from 1700 to the millennium, while American English has become more robust throughout the world, including Asia.
Phonetic System Derivation
Over time many vowel sounds diverged between the two became different, like the word “map”. The British now use a flatter “A” sound like the A in “on” while American English uses a more nasal A sound like the sound in the American version of “bat”. The O sound also has a distinctive difference. For example, the Americans use the Ahh sound for the word “clock”, while the British use the O sound in the American version of “fork”. For the U sound, Americans use the sound “u:” like in ‘ewww”, while the British has a “ju” sound for words like a tube, stupid. For the O sound, Brits use a sound like the O in “otter”, while the Americans use a long O sound in the word “boat”.
Word endings like, bury, berry, ery pretty much sound the same when a Brit ends a word with one, like “ery”. However, an Americans sound different on each of these endings, like eri, airy, ury. Also, the quintessential British sound for the “een” sound is a giveaway, pronounced like “bean”, while “bin” by Americans. Overall there is more slurring of vowels sounds in British English than American English. But these are all generalizations about the differences. Because in America and Britain there are many different regional dialects.
Common American Dialect
In the United States, the National recognized dialect for speaking is the Midwest dialect. This is a dialect that most newscasters use and uses a more nasal “a” and crisp consonants. With little variations, the Midwest dialect is spoken in the upper midwest, NYC, Pacific Northwest and parts of California. Heading to the south opens up a more twangy “country” dialect. This dialect has softer vowel sound and slurred or missing consonants. Example, You all vs Y’all. It is very distinctive and can be easily picked up by most English speakers. This dialect encompasses the Southeast United States. While, the Southwest has a mixture of southern dialect, not as strong as the Southeast. It is crisper than the southern dialect with less slurring. Think of Texas. That is it.
Coexistence of British Dialects
In Britain, many dialects abound. Even more in the commonwealth of countries. But the three most prominent are British English, Cockney, and Irish. Irish has a beautiful lilt. It is not that different in pronunciation than standard British English but has a kind of melody that is imposed over the words. Beyond this, there are region phrase differences like “I do work” vs “I usually work”. Cockney is a dialect of workers of England and it is known by its rough glottal sound and dropped consonants.
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One more dialect must be talked about. The Canadian dialect is a mixture of the 2 dialects. Leaning more American sounding in the last 50 years, it still carries very British components like the British “been” and a flatter A sound, while having a totally unique O sound like in Canadian word “hosers”.
Are there only British English and American English?
So, as one can tell there is not just a British or American English. Even within these countries, the English dialect changes. However, this phenomenon is not entirely true overall of America in general. There are still pockets off English in North America that are more closely aligned with 1700 British English than actually in Great Britain itself. For instance, the sound “R” well prevalent in the English of the 1700s, not dropped like today’s British. Like Tangier Virginia an island only 12 miles off the coast near Washington DC. The 400+ settlers are dependents of the early British settlers. Because they have been isolated on this island and have a very little mix with outsiders, these dependents have the closest form of Shakespearean English. Even more so than on the Great Britain archipelago. To hear these folks speak is like being transported back to the 1740s. Some of their unique communication forms, like saying the opposite of what they mean to convey a point, is only found here. Example, they might say “the store is ready to visit”, which means the store is actually closed.
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In the 1850s, the way British aristocracy and royalty spoke was seen as upper-crust. This dialect showed that someone is well educated, well mannered and superior. This style was inherent in the Queen Elizabeth I era. Humorously, the dialect main street Americans speak today is closer to to the Queen Elizabeth I dialect then Queen Elizabeth II, who has a normal British dialect.
Future of English
So, what is the future of English? Will English change more over the next 100 years? Many hypothesize over time theorize that English will get closer to a standard over the next 100 years. This is because global communication has brought the English world together. Americans watch British TV and vice versa. But studies have been done to see if dialects are dying out. The answer is no. More dialects are being created across the globe. This happens when English penetrates new areas as a second language. It becomes intermixed into the original language, like Spanglish in the Philippines, Singlish in Singapore and others. The shortening of the language is also occurring. Texting is a huge culprit. Instead of saying we are laughing-out-loud, we just say “LOL” Articles adjectives like the or dropped and new adjectives are being formed. Technology like Google translate is having a huge impact on learners.
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Are you ready to spread English around the globe?
If one listens to recordings spoken just 50 years ago, the conclusion would be that we do not speak that way anymore. Language is always evolving. The only thing that is certain is change.
Speak with an ITTT advisor today to put together your personal plan for teaching English abroad.
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