The Competence Between British English and American English
Many people who speak English are aware of the fact that American English and British English are similar yet different. There have been many debates about which one is better or correct. Some ways of speaking might be different if one would be speaking British English compared to American English.
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This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Camilla R. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.
British English has used its way of spelling words adopted from the French spelling, such as âcolorâ and âhumorâ. While in American English, the spelling has been simplified to become âcolorâ and âhumorâ. There are many more examples of the American simplifying British words; âflavorâ becoming âflavorâ, âlaborâ into âlaborâ and as well as âneighborâ to âneighborâ.
British and American English also have different names for the same objects, such as a pair of trainers in British and a pair of sneakers in American. Again with a jumper/pullover in American English is a sweater. There has also been a big misunderstanding when one speaks of chips and the other of fries. In British English, chips suggest potatoes cut into strips and fried, as the American way of calling it, fries. For Americans, chips are Lays, or packet chips, a potato sliced into very thin slices and fried to become crispy and can be kept for a longer time than fries. It is not only with food but also with naming different places such a chemist in British English and a drugstore in American English.
British English mostly has deep vowels, so the saying of the word âbathâ is longer and deeper, (like in the exclamation âah!â). When speaking American English the âaâ in the word âbathâ is shorter and higher, and sounds like a German âÃ¤â. I have experienced this when I took a trip to the United States. I was talking about the thermal baths near where I used to live but the people didnât understand me as I was using the British way of saying bath. Once I showed them a picture of what I was talking about, they finally understood what I meant. It also depends on whether people from American English and British English are aware of the way words are pronounced in each otherâs English. I knew that in American English the pronunciation of âbathâ was different but went on and said it the way I was taught and only later did I realize that they clearly didnât understand. After a few weeks, I had adopted some of their pronunciation of certain words as I was the foreigner and the minority amongst all of them.
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Nowadays more and more people are aware of the differences between American English and British English thanks to movies and television. This makes traveling easier when asking directions to a specifically named location such as a âdrugstoreâ or a âchemistâ. Now knowing what it is called in each otherâs way of speaking English allows us to understand each other better. Neither one or the other is better or correct, it just depends on what the person finds easiest and which one they were exposed to.
British English and American English might have a lot of differences but they are still both English. Maybe one day they will merge to just become simple English, were everywhere in the world, there will be the same spelling and pronunciation, making it easier to teach, learn and understand it.
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