By Rabiu Muhammad Gama
Have you ever wondered why Americans go on vacation while Brits go on holiday? I am sure you have. Or haven’t you ever heard that American kids like candy while British kids are crazy about sweets? Our Law of Contract lecturer, who was so lucky to do his PhD in England, once told us how nice his flat was when he was in England. On the other hand, one of our learned professors, who was privileged to have some training from Harvard Law School, lamented that he suffered before he could afford an apartment during his stay in the US. Curious? Well, I can’t actually blame you for that. I think all these go to show us how beautiful the English language is.
British and American English
That famous Irish playwright, George Bernard Shaw, once said, “the United States and the United Kingdom are two countries divided by a common language.” That was Shaw. And he wasn’t entirely wrong.
There are many varieties of English today: American English, British English, Australian English, Canadian English, Caribbean English, to mention but a few. However, for some historical and accidental factors, American and British Englishes are the most widely used across the globe today. These two Englishes, I am confident you may be aware of, are not always the same. However, they are not very different either. As far as this article is concerned, American English is that variety of the English language widely written and spoken in the United States and some parts of Canada. While British English, just as the name hints, is the standard dialect of the English language spoken and written in the United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland).
The most noticeable areas where British and American Englishes differ are vocabulary, spelling, grammar, and, though very rarely, idiomatic expressions. Forget about pronunciation; it does not count – as far as Standard English is concerned, pronunciation is not an accurate barometer for measuring “good English”. Ask around if you doubt me.
This is arguably the most significant area where the two Englishes differ. Americans don’t say lifter; they say elevator. It’s the Britons that call it lifter. Had Leonel Messi moved to Manchester City rather than Paris Saint-Germain, he would have been playing football by now. But, if he were to move to any football team in the US, say, the indomitable Seattle Sounders or the New York City FC, he would be playing soccer. Donald Trump, the most confused American president in recent history, is crazy about expensive automobiles. It may shock you to hear that the current Prime Minister of England, Boris Johnson, doesn’t know how to drive a car! If you go to the US, you will need an airplane to commute from Orlando to Las Vegas (the Sin City) because the cities are very far from each other. Go to the UK afterwards; you won’t need an aeroplane to move from Liverpool to Manchester – the two cities are only a stone’s throw from each other.
There are many spelling differences between American and British English. Words like color, labor and honor are found only in American English. In England, they would write these words as colour, labour and honour, respectively. In words like these, where the Americans use an “o”, the Britons would use “ou”. Where an American would ask you if you know any good theater, a Briton would ask you if you know any good theatre, “er” in American English changes to “re” in British English. The Britons organise programmes, but the Americans only organize programs. I am sure you got this last point, too, don’t you?
In addition to spelling and vocabulary, there are specific grammar differences between British and American English. For instance, collective nouns are considered singular in American English, while they’re mostly treated as plural in British English. For example, where an American would tell you that “his family is large”, a Briton would, most likely, tell you that “his family are large.” The Americans always take a shower, while the Britons mostly have a shower. The word “gotten”, the past particle of “get”, is now dead and buried in British English. Surprisingly enough, the word is still alive and kicking in American English.
On a final note, American English is the child of British English. Nonetheless, the former is the most widely written and spoken English today, thanks to America’s technology and robust economy. So, don’t be shocked whenever you read that the Brits actually introduced the language to the Americans because it’s true. Anyway, it is not uncommon to see a child that overshadows his dad. It’s, however, very unusual, perhaps unprecedented, to see a child reporting his mom to an anti-graft agency!
Rabiu Muhammad Gama is a level 300 Law student and English Enthusiast. He can be reached on email@example.com or 09061912994.
Yeah it’s very unusual for a son to report his mother to EFCC!
Thanks,Well said, Shaikhul English, what remains is the Shakespeare’s work need to be reviewed by you sire, and it’s usual this time around, thanks once again.
In addition, an American would say” close the hood, while the British would say close the bonet
Greatful thanks I’m deeply appreciated and understand many things on this particular article may Allah put his blessing on your pen the young prof from Gama.
I have gained a lot . Thank you
It is very educative as I have read between the lines.however, I gained alot out of this fruitful article, may you continue serving knowledge perpetually.
This is great.keep it up
Wow, this is really educative.
Very good sir.
As you prescribed the outstanding differences between American and British English are in three areas.
May your pen keep flowing.