Saturday, December 03, 2005

American or British?

Which English do you speak? Many people in France were taught what they believe to be British English, because that's what their teachers studied. That would be logical, as Britain is the nearest English-speaking country to France and thus the most important in terms of travel, trade, etc. However, I hear a lot of people today claiming that they can speak two foreign languages, English and American! That's like me saying I can speak Parisian French and Marseillais. Sure, there are some vocabulary differences, but most English speakers can understand each other, whether they are British, American, Australian or Indian. The pronunciation differences might cause some problems on occasions, just like in any language. When I see people from Quebec being interviewed on French TV, there are usually subtitles!

I am in complete agreement with the American practice of simplifying spelling - as if learning a language isn't hard enough without illogical spellings. So whereas in British we write favour, neighbour, colour the Americans write favor, neighbor, color, and when we write theatre, centre, they write theater, center.

As far as vocabulary goes, you just have to learn two words instead of one. But if you have a British teacher and you watch American movies, you will quickly get used to the differences.

have a look at british/american dictionary for more resources.

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