Much humor and academic insight can be wrung from the little linguistic quirks existing between the English spoken in the Commonwealth, the Republic of Ireland, and the United States. Although geographic differences and the influence of other cultures obviously accounts for quite a bit of the departures, dictionaries themselves played a significant role as well. Noah Webster and his seminal 1828 publication An American Dictionary of the English Language, which reflected his desire to split from the previously standard Dictionary of the English Language (Samuel Johnson, 1755), obviously swayed how the Yanks wrote and spoke their mother (Or secondary! Or tertiary!) tongue. The following represent some of the most notable changes between the way the British and the Americans structure their language.
That whole “u” thing
Reading “color” versus “colour” might clue one in to whether or not the literature in question hails from the United States or one of the Commonwealth nations. The latter favors the original “u” in words like the aforementioned and “neighbour” and “flavour” and the like.
One of the most blood-boilingly controversial grammatical phenomena in the English language, the Oxford (or serial, or Harvard) comma — which separates listings of three or more (in “John, Paul, George, and Ringo,” for example, it nestles itself behind Harrison) — rarely pops up in British English. American English, save for journalistic works, loves it.
Punctuation’s relation to quotation marks
When it comes to quotes, Americans usually place their punctuation marks inside before moving on to the next sentence. The exact opposite holds true for British English speakers and writers, as they prefer leaving them on the outside.
Verb forms for collective nouns
Collective nouns understandably baffle English speakers on all sides of all ponds, but there’s really just one general rule to keep in mind. While in (or writing for) Commonwealth nations, collective nouns — which include nation names — pair up with plural verbs. In the United States, use a singular conjugation.
Periods after titles
American English majors swoon over Mr. Darcy. British English majors swoon over Mr Darcy. Non-English majors have taste.
Placement of the day in dates
See, British people write out their dates like this: “13 January 2012,” “13/01/12,” or “13.01.12.” While American people write out their dates like this: “January 13, 2012,” “01/13/12,” or “01.13.12.” WACKY!
-ize vs -ise
Words that typically end in –ize in the United States and Canada are frequently rendered with –ise in every other English-speaking nation. However, because language wouldn’t be language without numerous exceptions, sometimes the non-Canadian British English speakers rock that -ize as well.
Single quotation marks are most common in British English nations, though their double counterpart has started creeping into daily use as of late. By contrast, Americans default to double quotations, using the singular ones to denote quotes within quotes.
Obviously, different accents mean words take on completely different pronunciations depending on their speaker’s country of origin. Uh-loo-mu-num in American English is ahl-oo-men-ee-um elsewhere, most infamously.
“And” between numerical units
British English speaks or writes out numbers including an “and” in pretty much everything past 100, barring its multiples. “2012,” for example, would be written out as “two thousand and twelve,” while Americans expunge the “and” altogether and prefer “two thousand twelve” or “twenty-twelve.”
- To continue reading the other half, please visit the original post here: The 20 Biggest Differences Between British and American English – Online College Courses.