Talk:American English

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Former featured articleAmerican English is a former featured article. Please see the links under Article milestones below for its original nomination page (for older articles, check the nomination archive) and why it was removed.
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Wiki Education Foundation-supported course assignment[edit]

Sciences humaines.svg This article was the subject of a Wiki Education Foundation-supported course assignment, between 26 August 2019 and 11 December 2019. Further details are available on the course page. Peer reviewers: Siot0819.

Above undated message substituted from assignment by PrimeBOT (talk) 17:12, 17 January 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Wiki Education Foundation-supported course assignment[edit]

Sciences humaines.svg This article was the subject of a Wiki Education Foundation-supported course assignment, between 22 January 2019 and 9 May 2019. Further details are available on the course page. Student editor(s): BitterLilyz.

Above undated message substituted from assignment by PrimeBOT (talk) 14:01, 16 January 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

“Currently most influential”[edit]

The claim in the lede isn’t supported by the four sources.

In fact, they maintain the prevalence of a British English outright.

The British council writes in the English Effect report that “the globalisation of the language has led to a diverse range of Englishes different from a “standard” English and the European Commission recognised that over the years European institutions have developed a vocabulary that differs from any recognised form of English” they cite as the cause of the prevalence of English the uks “imperial expansion” and political and military power through the 19th and 20th centuries.

According to TEFL there. Are “up to 1.5 billion” English language learners worldwide. 750 million of those are “English as a foreign language speakers” and 375 million “English as second language speakers”. 64% of which are “learning British English from British textbooks”.

In the commmonwealth of Nations “British English is generally preferred” and this statement is supported by Wikipedia’s own article on the topic. In fact, “Commonwealth English” is referred to as British English by Icon group Intenational in 2008, in Disturbances: Webster’s quotations, facts and phrases, p384, as well as Namrata Palta’s “preparing for call centre interviews” pages 80-81 from 2006 explaining how Indians should learn British English.

Therefore, I feel the claim in the lede is unjustified, or needs some disputing. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:37, 5 September 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]

WP:BRD does not mean that you get to drop a comment on the talk page and then restore a contentious edit without discussion It also does not mean that you get to make the same contentious edit again every time you change IPs. Your removal has been undone at least four times.
Maybe the lead can be improved or even needs changing, but wait for editors to discuss it. Meters (talk) 06:46, 5 September 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I don't have access to the first source, but the second source contends that American influence on global (not just British) English is rising while being clear that American English is not "absorbing" British English. The third source says that American English, like the American dollar, is the current dominant force globally. The fourth source says that Americanisation of the English language... is sweeping the world and influencing English in India as well. I think the sources are pretty clear. Wolfdog (talk) 15:22, 5 September 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]

These sources are clearly and blatantly disputed. “Influencing English in India” is counteracted by my sources saying British English is widely preferred and taught over American English. British English being the more common English taught and learnt is also clear. How does that make American English more “influential”? We need to add that it is disputed to the lede. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:15, 5 September 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Those things aren't necessarily mutually exclusive. Influence has more to do with culture, such as music, movies, TV, etc., than what variant is taught in schools. - BilCat (talk) 20:41, 5 September 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
IP, please indent (one colon per level of indent) and sign (use ~~~~ to add a a timestamped signature) your talk page posts.
Please stop restoring your contested version of the lead. Contested changes are discussed on the talk page so that editors can reach consensus.
For convenience, the line under discussion is "Currently, American English is the most influential form of English worldwide.[1][2][3][4]
Possibly the wording of the line might be improved, but I don't think it is far off. Do you have a suggestion? Here's another source discussing the issue in terms such as "The influence of American English has become so widespread that its reach is even felt within the UK." and "In much of Europe, American vocabulary is even more influential than American spelling. That trend holds in the UK, too" [5] The study itself is described here, [6] and can be read here.[7]Meters (talk) 20:45, 5 September 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
A quote from the above study: " We find that American English is the dominant form of English outside the UK and that its influence is felt even within the UK borders." Meters (talk) 20:49, 5 September 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The above study also comes with a quote to explain as such: Twitter users are younger, more educated and more politically active than the general population, while the authors note that “books are typically written by cultural elites” - of your 3 new sources, 2 of which are about the same data set, which is already admittedly flawed by confession of the report itself. If we are to include american vocabulary in the U.K. as US English influence we surely must also include the reverse, with American children using “bin”, “rubbish”, “mummy” and even using british spellings.[8]
some children even reportedly speak with a British accent.[9]
Europeans are also far more likely to speak “their own version of English, mixed with their native tongue” than speak American, or in fact British English.[10][11] British English is the official translation used by the European Union, and most taught in schools. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:15, 5 September 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I don’t want a lot, I just want to add, “but this is disputed” with sources I’ve provided. I’m happy otherwise. (talk) 21:18, 5 September 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
We don't add comments such as "This is disputed" based on editors' opinions or WP:SYNTH. Do you have sources that actually say that American English is not the most influential? Your new sources certainly don't support that. And you might want to look at my sources again. All three of them pertain to the same study. I found an article about the study, and then I found links fr the study itself. Meters (talk) 22:04, 5 September 2020 (UTC)
Hopefully our readers understand that the British of course colonized all over the world for centuries, including well into the 20th century. Certain Britishisms survived even in formal speaking/writing conventions of the U.S. during much of that century. Perhaps it's the word "Currently" that we can change to end this debate. When I first wrote it, I more or less meant "As of the 21st century" or perhaps "As of the late 20th century". (It's hard to specify exact time-stamps of linguistic influence, of course, because linguistic effects often percolate gradually across decades; this is why I simply wrote "Currently" in the first place.) Wolfdog (talk) 17:07, 7 September 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The notion that words like "bin" , "rubbish" and "mummy" are exclusively British and that use of such words by American children is evidence of contemporary British influence is, well, rubbish. I grew up in Detroit in the 1950s and any five year old child back then understood and occasionally used these words. Of course, the most common use of "mummy" had to do with the preserved bodies of ancient Egypt, but it would not have been uncommon for a child to have called their mother that, although I preferred "mom" personally. As for American children imitating British accents for comedic effect, that goes back at least as far as the American Revolution and is evidence of nothing. Cullen328 Let's discuss it 06:28, 9 September 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]


  1. ^ Engel, Matthew (2017). That's The Way It Crumbles: the American Conquest of English. London: Profile Books. ISBN 9781782832621. OCLC 989790918.
  2. ^ "Fears of British English's disappearance are overblown". The Economist. 2017-07-20. ISSN 0013-0613. Retrieved 2019-04-18.
  3. ^ Harbeck, James (July 15, 2015). "Why isn't 'American' a language?". Retrieved April 18, 2019.
  4. ^ Reddy, C. Rammanohar. "The Readers' Editor writes: Why is American English becoming part of everyday usage in India?". Retrieved 2019-04-18.
  5. ^ "Cookies or biscuits? Data shows use of American English is growing the world over". Hindustan Times. The Guardian. 17 July 2017.
  6. ^ "The Fall of the Empire: The Americanization of English". IFISC.
  7. ^ Gonçalves, Bruno; Loureiro-Porto,José J. Ramasco,David Sánchez, Lucía; Ramasco, José J.; Sánchez, David (25 May 2018). "Mapping the Americanization of English in space and time".{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^

Does "Currently, American English is the most influential form of English worldwide" really need six citations? I understand it's a claim that's likely to be disputed, but isn't that rather excessive? (talk) 20:39, 23 November 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]

It's not just likely to be disputed, but has been disputed in this very section! So yes, I'd say multiple sources are needed, and the 6 listed are good ones. BilCat (talk) 21:29, 23 November 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I am an international editor. When I work for people in the United States, I have to use American English and grammar. When I work outside the United States, I have to use British English and grammar. This article shows where British English is taught: Clearly more nations and a greater population of the world are taught British English. The articles/books used to support the claim that British English is more influential is based solely on vocabulary and spelling in select countries. If we go by that, we could say French or Latin is more influential than American English because their words fill the English language. Simply borrowing words is NOT the determiner as to whether or not something is influential. As this article says (, although people from India are taught British English in schools and borrow much from American English, they use their own words, pronunciation, and inflections that are unique to India. I can honestly say that not only have I spoken on the phone with people from India who were speaking English and I had difficulty understanding them, but I also have spoken with someone from the United Kingdom and NEITHER of us could understand each other!!! We had to resort to e-mailing in order to communicate about that job. If American English is so influential, as the article claims, the world would be teaching American grammar. Instead, Chicago style and AP style (the style guide for the American Press) have incorporated Australian Harvard style punctuation elements into it (see AP style guide, APA style guide, and Australian Harvard style guides). If American English were so influential, it would not simply be slang words and spelling used by other countries but the entire method of constructing sentences would also be changing around the world, and that is not the case. The truth of the matter is that English, whether it is Australian, Indian, American, British, or from other countries is influenced most by local dialect and secondly by all outside forces. To say that American English is most influential because of vocabulary words used solely by young people in the U.K. or India is to ignore that Americans incorporate British grammar and punctuation rules into their writing and to ignore that British English is the most taught in schools around the world. Never have I had someone tell me to use American English if the article/book was going to be used outside of the United States. Instead, I have employers telling me that they want me to use the conventions of their own countries. Outside of vocabulary (which is vastly different across English speaking nations), that means I use British English outside the U.S. and American English within it. Granted, since Australia wrote the style guide that is used by most of the English speaking world, I suppose you could say Australian English is the most influential, but again, the article would be improved if the claim was simply dropped altogether. 2601:245:C100:5E5C:2D18:2C2F:A606:B0F3 (talk) 13:51, 9 May 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]

"Widely taught" does not mean "most influential", and international spelling standards do not reliably indicate language trends. Latin was a lingua franca for long after it die out, and indeed some regional lingua franca dialects exist exclusively for communication between two speakers of different languages and are not otherwise spoken (there are no first language speakers, per se). The fact that British English is used in formal or educational settings means nothing when it comes to colloquial speech or the dominant spoken dialects and vocabularies. What is meant by "most influential" is that these other dialects tend to take their cue from American English, despite being distinct from it. That is, they tend to borrow terminology or syntax or whatever from American English. It doesn't mean these dialects are a carbon copy, or even that American English is taught or understood as being the "correct" English. It simply means that, due to the sometimes overwhelming influence of American media and culture on the rest of the world, American English has the greatest influence on the English language overall. This is certainly evident in English dialects everywhere, including a readily apparent "Americanization" of British English that I personally find horrendous and that I suspect you find too terrible to accept. It may be hard to admit, it may be sad, but the bottom line is that British English is no longer dominant and even in the UK it has begun to lose ground to American English. Regardless of what English teachers teach you in school, and regardless of the spelling standards you are expected to adhere to in non-American settings. The only way to change this is to usurp American dominance, but that is a different discussion entirely. (talk) 01:45, 24 June 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Use of non-English languages in courts[edit]

@Wolfdog: Greetings! Regarding this revert, I'm looking for clarity on the claim that "some divisions" use languages other than English in courts. Does "some" mean in fact only Puerto Rico? Or does this apply to all the jurisdictions mentioned in note "a" that have a second official language? Do all federal courts use English exclusively? I don't see anywhere in the body of the article that talks about the language used in courts. -- Beland (talk) 19:43, 8 September 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]

@Beland: Thanks for the fuller explanation. I honestly have no idea. However, is it really appropriate to add all these details to the lead section? Perhaps we can just reword the sentence in a way that allows us to be clearer but also avoid raising these types of more in-depth questions. Wolfdog (talk) 20:56, 8 September 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@Wolfdog: I agree; details belong in the body. After poking around some more, I found a lot of detail is actually already in Languages of the United States#Official languages. That seems to be a better article for this content, since that article is about usage of various languages (including English) in the U.S., but this article is about the dialect, which is used in the U.S. but also by media and expatriates in other countries. So, I merged details there and left behind links here. -- Beland (talk) 20:00, 9 September 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Regional Accents - Urban Centers[edit]

Why is San Antonio listed in the box as the largest urban center for the Southern accent? The Houston metropolitan area is the largest Southern accent urban center, and is far larger than San Antonio. 021120x (talk) 22:48, 13 June 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I've reverted your changes. The San Antonio claim is sourced and explained in the hidden note that you removed, "Houston is the largest city in Texas, but it barely falls under the Southern dialect, according to ANAE p. 131". You need to at least make an effort to check the source to see if this was correct. Also, you made unsourced changes to cited content in this edit, and I was correct to revert you. Wikipedia reports what the reliable sources state, not what we think ought to be correct from our own knowledge and experience. BilCat (talk) 20:31, 14 June 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Removing the Official Language Section? Even though IT is marked as only some states the Federal Government of the US does not recognize American English or any type of English so im adding some Italitcs too it to prevent false knowledge from being spread.[edit]

Removing the Official Language Section? Even though IT is marked as only some states the Federal Government of the US does not recognize American English or any type of English so im adding some Italitcs too it to prevent false knowledge from being spread. AntManSC (talk) 10:16, 31 August 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Segregation and African-language effects on American English variation[edit]

Hi @Compositionist: You claim, citing the Mufwene source, that regional variation in American English reflects these [different immigrant and enslaved] groups' geographic dispersal and settlement and their de jure and then de facto segregation, respectively. I've changed regional variation to racial and sometimes regional variation. Even so, preserving the word "regional" to me is a little suspect. This is certainly a budding focus in American dialectology; the general consensus is that a mixing or koineization event happened in the US, mostly blending different English, Irish, and Scottish dialects. This established American dialect patterns perhaps even more than later groups' dispesal and settlement and... segregation. Still, I admit the evidence seems complex and the basic trends are what's still being studied. Segregation is certainly a factor, but if, how, and to what degree it directly impacted linguistic variation remains somewhat controversial. Also, pace Mufwene, other scholars (John McWhorter, for example), argue that even AAVE really shows more influence from British Isles English than any overwhelming African sources. The Mufwene source you cite is some 20 pages; can you point to a couple specific pages I can look at to get a more in-depth understanding of where your info is coming from? Wolfdog (talk) 13:10, 1 September 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Thanks, @Wolfdog -- I ref'd this source in particular not because it's the most cutting-edge but because it provides an instructive overview of US dialectology (including acknowledging the influences of "nonstandard" UK pronunciations on AAVE (see page 17 specifically and 29-31 more generally) but also rebalances the account somewhat away from the European settlement-centric view reflected in the prior wording of this article. For example, it was fairly common until recently to read discussions about upper US midwest pronunciations as solely a matter of various Scandinavian influences on Anglo-German settlers, somehow ignoring both urban areas in the upper Midwest and the obvious influence of the Great Migration on speech patterns inside and outside those areas. Compositionist (talk) 13:23, 1 September 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Right, I hear ya. Most of US English has been studied in terms of the majority-white population and majority-white dialects. That said, it is still true that European (and of course, more directly, British) influence is indeed the strongest source on American dialects overall. That's not really a Eurocentric statement in an un-self-aware way so much as the objective reality of American dialects in light of Eurocentric historical happenings. Obviously, we can and should additionally mention that particular non-white dialects (AAVE, various Latino Englishes, etc.) also exist (which we do elsewhere in the article). Perhaps a single sentence in the relevant section on the Great Migration can describe how that event helped diffuse AAVE beyond the South. Wolfdog (talk) 13:34, 1 September 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I guess my point is that segregation can broadly explain AAVE's existence, but it doesn't broadly explain the pattern of variation across American English in general, does it? Wolfdog (talk) 13:36, 1 September 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Agreed that it doesn't explain variation tout court, and I like your idea very much to make the GM a useful illustrative example of other, largely internal, forces at work on US dialects. FWIW, I meant 'segregation' to connote not just the usual (and justifiable) sense of what was imposed on Black Americans, but also what was imposed on other groups as well (e.g., the fairly coercive encouragement the Scotch-Irish received to leave the mid-Atlantic and move into Appalachia) or occasionally somewhat more self-selected, as in the Plain Folk or the Hasidim. Probably a poor wc on my part. Compositionist (talk) 20:24, 1 September 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Consistency of IPA phonemes for American English dialect pages[edit]

This is not the perfect place to bring this up, but I can think of no better place either. (Too bad there's no Help:IPA/American English.) Should phonemic transcription using IPA be expected to be different for every American English dialect/accent page (Philadelphia English, New York accent, Southern American English, California English, Maine accent, etc. etc.), or is there a good reason to keep one consistent phonemic system across all of these pages? Sol505000 seems to prefer the former, so that, for example, we now have the LOT phoneme represented as /ɒ/ on Boston accent, /a/ on Inland Northern American English, and /ɑ/ on Western American English and General American. My instinct is to just use /ɑ/ on all four of these pages, mostly for reader-friendliness. Again: I'm just talking phonemic notation here, not phonetic, which can always get into the nitty-gritty. Still, though, I don't have an overwhelming preference. I do, however, think it would be useful for the community to arrive at some larger consensus or basic guideline here to help steer future editing either one way or the other. Thanks! Wolfdog (talk) 01:59, 31 January 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Boston accent, Maine accent and a few other articles are in a different league. Those accents are non-rhotic and so they already have a different phonemic system to your average North American one. For instance, the General American vowel corresponding to Boston and Maine /a/ is very rare in the word-final position (I'm assuming no cot-caught merger in GA) which almost makes it a checked vowel (which is historically spot on - LOT is checked in England and Australia) that is just phonetically long. In Boston and Maine, words like /ka/, /ba/ and /sta/ are far more usual due to the palm-start merger.
(I know LOT is /ɒ/ in Boston - I'm talking about GA, where LOT = PALM).
I have no problem with the different symbolization. All of those symbols can be backed by sources and readers should probably be expected to understand what they mean. Some of our articles about the dialects of British English, or Anglo-Welsh English to be exact (such as Scouse, Geordie or Cardiff English) already use their own set of phonemic symbols and so does Australian English phonology, New Zealand English phonology etc. So if the question was Should phonemic transcription using IPA be expected to be different for every English dialect/accent page, the answer would be "it's already inconsistent".
/oʊ/ can also be changed to /əʊ/ whenever appropriate (on Western Pennsylvania English, Philadelphia English etc.) There's no way our readers wouldn't know what the latter means if they can already read the IPA. When /oʊ/ and /eɪ/ are monophthongal, o e can be used instead. Sol505000 (talk) 11:23, 31 January 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

@BilCat, Nardog, Artem.G, Megaman en m, Meters, AJD, Erutuon, Blaze Wolf, Aeusoes1, and Austronesier: Any thoughts here (just towards some basic consensus) would be much appreciated — thanks! Wolfdog (talk) 13:53, 27 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

If we are thinking about this diaphonemically, then either using the phonemic inventory symbolization at General American or providing one in this article would help us have a sort of base inventory symbolization that we can apply more broadly, with coverage of specific dialects' phonetic differences being conveyed in brackets. The only reason we would do this is clarity for the reader, but if we think that we can present the information without doing this, it wouldn't be a problem. — Ƶ§œš¹ [lɛts b̥iː pʰəˈlaɪˀt] 18:03, 27 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Sorry, but IPA discussions are way over my head! BilCat (talk) 18:22, 27 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I'd tentatively say that if a reliable phonological description is available for a given dialect, we should be using the phonemic transcription detailed therein on the page that covers that specific dialect. This should be paired with a decent description of any salient or unusual phoneme regarding the actual pronunciation, as well as any notable phonemic mergers or splits. Using one overarching diaphonemic transcription for each dialect is easy for both the editor and reader, but it also lacks specificity and runs into some frustrating issues. Therefore I somewhat oppose this approach when a reliable phonological source for a given dialect is available.--Megaman en m (talk) 20:04, 27 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Sorry, but I'm with BilCat on this one. I'm afraid I'm illiterate when it comes to phonemic transcriptions. Meters (talk) 20:50, 27 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I'm not a big fan of the major-accent English diaphonemic system that Wikipedia already uses because I think it misleads lots of people about what phonemic distinctions the major accents actually make and about the actual phonological features that distinguish the vowel phonemes and about the plain meanings of the IPA symbols. If it was done in a similar way, an American-only diaphonemic system that includes notable divergent dialects could be even more confusing because American accents make lots of distinctions that are not made in the major English accents, and some symbols would have to be misleading about the features of a dialectal phoneme (like lot in a strong Chicago accent, low and front, versus lot in a Californian or Canadian accent, low and back). There's the Boston accent that distinguishes father and bother, so the American-only system would have to have separate symbols even though most dialects don't make the distinction. Some dialects have a similar vowel in glory and thought; others in glory and goat; the American-only system would have to choose one dialect in the representation of glory, and mislead readers about which vowel was similar to glory in the other dialect. The major-accent diaphonemic system dispensed with the north and force distinction, but the American-only system would have to distinguish them to represent all American accents.
It would make sense to have a General American transcription (which would mostly work for Canadian) and use it in tables to show which dialectal phonemes correspond to which General American phonemes. But in other parts of dialect pages it's more helpful to use phonemic symbols that actually illustrate what distinctions the dialect makes, and what vowels in different contexts are perceived as similar (like before r and elsewhere, so the same symbol for glory-thought if those vowels are similar, or the same symbol for glory-goat if those are similar). It would take more adjustment for readers, but it would make the page illustrate the actual phonemes of the dialect even outside of the vowel tables. I like how Australian English phonology and New Zealand English phonology use phoneme symbols specific to their dialects, though it takes me a bit of adjustment to understand what the equivalent phonemes are in my own accent. (For instance in The word data is commonly pronounced /ˈdaːta/, with /ˈdæɪta/ being the second most common, and /ˈdɛta/ being very rare.) It would be neat if the articles on some of the American accents could do a similar thing. — Eru·tuon 23:01, 27 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
It seems like the rough consensus emerging is, as Megaman suggests above, if a reliable phonological description is available for a given dialect, we should be using the phonemic transcription detailed therein on the page that covers that specific dialect. I think the emphasis I want to add here is if a reliable phonological description is available. It's easy enough to come up with notations that are logical but not directly citing research. Such instances of logical-but-not-verified could lead to WP editors bickering about specifics continuously, as in the past. I suppose Accents of English (Wells) and A Handbook of Varieties of English (edited by Kortmann and Schneider) are two possible places to start, though even their transcriptions are often varied or purely phonetic. Wolfdog (talk) 19:01, 1 March 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Further reading for those who enjoy minutiae...
One example of a potential new controversy that comes to mind is that TRAP in Inland North accents could be represented as /æ/, /ɛə/, /eə/, /ɪə/, or numerous other ways. The research provides no consensus. Wells gives the phoneme as /æ/ but provides the others phonetically. Kortmann and Schneider use /æə/ but also provide all the others phonetically. A more visually striking option like /eə/ could be unfavorable because its phonetic inspiration, [eə], is innovative, predominant in final stressed syllables but not elsewhere (according to Wells), and reversing back towards [æ] in many areas in the 2010s data. Again, this is just one of the many questions over specifics we would now be raising. Wolfdog (talk) 20:04, 1 March 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]