Talk:Comparison of American and British English/Archive 10

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Use of tenses

There is an error in that part. The Americans using preterit (past simple) instead of present perfect when referring to events set in the present is a grammar mistake, not an acceptable use specific to a regional dialect, and it should be listed as such. The example used 'I have already eaten / I already ate' is particularly badly chosen, as 'I already ate' is not acceptable in English (the language, regardless of dialects).— Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs) 23:11, 25 October 2011‎

Quotes and punctuation

This article is also wrong. Whether you include the punctuation mark in the quote or not simply depends on whether or not the punctuation is part of the quote, it does not have anything to do with dialects.— Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs) 23:11, 25 October 2011‎

No, there are different schools of thought on where punctuation (specifically periods [full stops in BrE] and commas) should go in relation to quotation marks, and these differences more or less follow US/UK publishing traditions. Read that part of the article again.

Football terms


-- Ohc ¡digame!¿que pasa? 00:15, 2 June 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Contraction placement

AmE commonly uses contractions such as "I haven't" or "She hasn't", while BrE will use "I've not" or "She's not." I do not know the origin of this behavior, and would be curious to find out where the difference originated. If I find anything, I'll follow up here. Joelfinkle (talk) 20:43, 14 October 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]

BrE uses both contractions but in slightly different ways: "I haven't a clue" or "I've not found it". The former is used when negating "to be", the latter when negating the main part of a compound verb. In detail: "I have not a clue" negates "to have"; "I have not found it" negates "to find". Martin of Sheffield (talk) 22:26, 14 October 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Dissertation in BrE

"In BrE, the same word refers to the final written product of a student in any university degree programme, whether undergrad, master's or doctoral." This is incorrect. Undergrad students write a dissertation, as do postgrads on a taught master's programme. Those enrolled in a research master's (with very little taught courses or none at all) or doctoral programme write a thesis. The term 'doctoral thesis' is common. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:44, 7 February 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]


  • "A similar pattern is followed for named roads (for example, Strand in London is almost always referred to as the Strand)" Thus no "street" takes "the" (Oxford Street, Regent Street, Victoria Street), and the same goes for other road-words like "Avenue" or "Crescent" or "Square", the only example being roads which are leading to a destination ("The Edgeware Road" leads towards Edgeware); elsewhere "The Strand", "The Mall", "The Albert Embankment", but "Piccadilly", "Pall Mall", "London Wall", "Cheapside".
  • "Recently the American use of just with simple past has made inroads into BrE, most visibly in advertising slogans and headlines such as "Cable broadband just got faster"." – but I'm not convinced that this has entered British speech.
  • "BrE almost always uses "off", and "off of" is considered slang". I suspect that "off of" is East Midlands dialect, and elsewhere is considered not slang so much as a demotic class identifier.

Deipnosophista (talk) 19:47, 30 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Example of a British term being used in the USA

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, may I have your attention please? --Marce 11:46, 7 August 2014 (UTC) I would like to let you know of a certain song by American singer Britney Spears with a British-inspired title, and that is, "Autmnn Goodbye".

Even though it was recorded by an American artist, it has a British title, with the word "Autumn" replacing the word "Fall", which is more American, I dare say. --Marce 11:39, 7 August 2014 (UTC)
I hope I did not sound too judicial with my "Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, may I have your attention please?" intro to this entry. --Marce 11:46, 7 August 2014 (UTC)

Thank you very much for your attention --Marce 20:36, 23 July 2014 (UTC)

Omission in the article

The article incurs in a very serious omission: it fails to explain why the British use the term "cinema" while the Americans use the term "movie theater" to refer to the place where one can watch a movie after paying for a ticket at the box office outside of it. --Marce 11:51, 7 August 2014 (UTC)

Naught vs. zero and anti-clockwise vs. counter-clockwise

I just removed these two comparisons from the "road transport" section of the article, because they do not seem particular to road transport. They seem just as likely to arise in completely different contexts. I think they belong somewhere in the article, but I don't know where to put them. —BarrelProof (talk) 16:49, 25 July 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I have (or "I've got") an idea: you can put the first pair (Naught vs. zero) in a section about sports/sport scores, including also the term "nil" which is used for "zero" in football (what the Americans call "soccer") and the second on a section expressing the differences on telling (the) time, because, as we know, British and Americans use different ways to tell (the) time, and notice that I'm including the definite article in parentheses to indicate that it's optional in American English but mandatory in British English. --Marce 12:05, 7 August 2014 (UTC)
Also notice that I used two words, because while Americans read the "SPORTS" (plural) section of a newspaper to find out how their teams are doing, the British read the "SPORT" (singular) section. However, there is an exception: the word "MATHS" is singular in British English, as is "MATH" in American English. --Marce 12:05, 7 August 2014 (UTC) — Preceding unsigned comment added by Fandelasketchup (talkcontribs)


Can we try to get a consensus over this please? I'll be honest: Graham and I have disagreed over this in the past, it now appears I'm not the only one to do so. Fowler clearly used "his". This is not "erroneous or archaic spelling, surprising assertion, faulty reasoning, or other matter that might otherwise be taken as an error of transcription" (see {{Sic}}). As Graham said on my talk page: "I would no longer use it like that". Fair enough, I would not seek to alter the way he expresses himself; perhaps he would care to extend the same courtesy to a highly respected authority on English usage such as Fowler? Let's try to keep personal opinions out of this and concentrate on whether {{sic}} is needed in a correctly spelled, grammatically correct (if currently unpopular) construct? This is after all an encyclopaedia and not a political manifesto. Martin of Sheffield (talk) 23:56, 31 October 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Concur with your position. "Sic" is used to mark grammar or spelling errors, not to mark language that by modern standards is offensive or at the very least insensitive. --Coolcaesar (talk) 11:37, 1 November 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Concur also. Use of generic he/his/him instead of gender-neutral alternatives (his/her or recasting to avoid) is not something to label "sic" without an especial reason for doing so, because it is not solecistic (regardless of whether it is not preferable). Maybe a century from now it will be archaic enough to feel solecistic, but it isn't yet. Putting "sic" on it is unduly fussbudgety; it's eccentric from an editorial perspective. Many readers would have to pause and cogitate about why the "sic" was there. They would hunt for a spelling mistake or solecism. When they finally concluded that it was there for no other reason than to remind them (implicitly not explicitly) that gender neutrality in English is a topic for due consideration, they would be annoyed that "sic" was placed there and that they were left to hunt for the reason (and that the reason was weak because it had nothing to do with "erroneous or archaic spelling, surprising assertion, faulty reasoning, or other matter that might otherwise be taken as an error of transcription" [bold is mine]). The essence of "sic" is the writer saying to the reader, "No, reader, I did not err in transcribing the quote, although I see a reason why you might think I did." If the aforementioned effort and annoyance happens to the reader, then the "sic" is not advisable, regardless of whether it is "not wrong". Quercus solaris (talk) 19:47, 2 November 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Do not concur :
Actually, I am a little surprised that this use of sic causes such nausea.
Oh I shall and always do extend every courtesy to Henry Watson Fowler. And to (again) quote that great man, sic is used “to confirm its accuracy as a quotation… it amounts to Yes he did say that… in spite of your natural doubts.” (Modern English Usage, 1st Ed, p532) But he does go on to write “it should be used only when doubt is natural”. Ritter, in The Oxford Guide to Style gives it as “drawing attention to some error of fact or oddity of grammar or spelling”. Weiner and Delahunty (The Oxford Guide to English Usage) give it as "placed in brackets after a word that appears odd or erronious". Interestingly, the onetime “controller of the universe”, Horace Hart, (by the 1983 edition of Hart’s rules) has nowt to say on the subject.
The point being, it is not simply a means of marking errors, and does not necessarily indicate that the person relating the quote thinks that the writer was wrong. All it indicates is that there is some reason to doubt if that was what was written, but that it was copied correctly.
And, from my perspective there is a natural doubt here. Because, as an (possibly the) undoubted authority on the correct use of English that he was, there has to be a natural doubt that Fowler wrote it that way ; as clearly, this usage is not without those who fairly strongly now deprecate such as it – enough so that even I am forced to moderate mine. Indeed, I see several who disagree with this use of sic here admit that this gender specific usage is “currently unpopular” and “not preferable”. Moreover, there are some quarters where it will get you a short sharp visit from the smack fairy. So I could not just let it pass from him, as much because of, as despite the great man that he was. Hence, sic – this actually is what the great Henry Watson Fowler wrote, doubt it as you may, which Fowler himself (and Ritter) allows is a valid use of it.
Graham.Fountain | Talk 18:40, 3 November 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Magna/summa cum laude etc vs "first", "two-one", "Desmond" etc

At the risk of this article expanding to fill the known universe, is it worth mentioning these differences in distinctions in academic degrees? Could link to "Latin hono[u]rs", perhaps, for the American English usage; and, while we're at it, explaining that - at higher degree level anyway - a mark of 70% and over is a "distinction", a point of puzzlement to many of my non-British fellow-students. Herbgold (talk) 16:19, 1 February 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Please correct this part of the article

The following sentence is wrong in the article:"AmE appears sometimes to use the BrE form in baller as slang for a basketball player, as in the video game NBA Ballers. However, this is derived from slang use of to ball as a verb meaning to play basketball." It can be found in section 3, titled "Word derivation and compounds". The sentence is wrong in that it implies that the term "baller" is only applied to basketball players, but it is also applied to baseball players as well. If you don't believe me just watch or listen to any MLB game (NOTE for Brits: MLB is short for Major League Baseball, the national baseball association in the US) and you'll hear the referee shout "Play ball!". --Marce 11:21, 3 February 2015 (UTC) — Preceding unsigned comment added by Fandelasketchup (talkcontribs)

(minor formatting adjustment made in the quote above for clarity) I agree that there may be a problem with those sentences. The phrase "appears to sometimes use" seems like tortured speculation, as does the purported comment about the derivation of the term. Personally, I don't recall hearing that term in AmE in any significant frequency, although that may not mean a whole lot. A single video game title seems insufficient to establish significant usage, and in that title "NBA" is the key term in that title that helps the reader understand what is being discussed. "Play ball!" is not the same thing as "baller". My suggestion would be to just delete those two sentences. —BarrelProof (talk) 19:33, 3 February 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Transport and transit

How about adding a sentence under "Transport/Transportation" to the effect that British use "transport" for local (city) transport/transportation, whereas American seems to prefer "transit" - "Transport for London" versus "New York City Transit Authority". Herbgold (talk) 16:38, 1 February 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]

"Transit" is not used as much as "transport" in the U.S.... Maybe government agencies prefer it. (talk) 05:50, 23 March 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Restrictive and non-restrictive modifiers

I recommend this section be removed. It does not cite any sources and it is clearly false. The rules about punctuating defining and non-defining relative clauses are, as far as I know, the same in British and American English, as are the rules about using the relative pronoun "that". (If you know better, let's see your sources, or at least, let's see a single traceable quoted example where British and American usage would be different.) Whether all, or even a majority of, speakers of either variant actually understand these rules is, of course, another question entirely. (talk) 04:23, 10 January 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I think the difference is that (some) Americans are more fussy about avoiding the use of "which" except in certain closely defined circumstances. On this side of the pond we are less worried about which to use, because we recall that usage has changed considerably over our history. I agree that it would be useful to see some sources. Microsoft grammar corrections seem to apply American rules, changing "which" to "that". Oxford dictionaries has an opinion, as does the BBC. Dbfirs 08:03, 10 January 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I've added a para on Henry Fowler's position on defining and non-defining pronouns and the use of "that" and "which", with a ref to Modern English Usage. Is that enough for the no citations flag in the section to be removed?
Graham.Fountain | Talk 14:42, 12 August 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The article describes the example sentence (The dog which bit the man...) as ambiguous. I don't think this is right. The absence of commas makes it clear that this is a defining (restrictive) relative clause. Why would it be ambiguous? There is no need to insist on 'that' instead of 'which' here, and indeed British English does not so insist. I suggest removing the opinion that the sentence is ambiguous. (talk) 13:14, 4 December 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The article being about the differences, I assume that this statement of ambiguity is given as an American perspective of the uses of “that” and “which” in this case, rather than the actualities. The question then is, is it clear that the ambiguity is not necessarily inherent, but that “The dog which bit the man…” is ambiguous to the writer of American English, just because of their (supposed) expectation of conformance to the rule that "which" is descriptive and "that" is restrictive.
Personally, I think that the nature of the section makes all that clear enough, and that the beginning of the sentence in question, i.e. "Thus, a writer of British English might write..." reinforces that sufficiently. Hence, I think, it is only in reading this sentence in isolation that the statement that it is ambiguous seems wrong (and then only to those British who haven’t read Fowler). However, if others see that as unclear, perhaps something to that effect should be added.
Graham.Fountain | Talk 14:21, 4 December 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I think it's a house style question, and it would be good to say that most people use "that" and "which" interchangeably, certainly in British colloquial speech. Herbgold (talk) 16:10, 1 February 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Me again. I did not express myself clearly above. Try again. This is the part I have a problem with:

"Thus, a writer of British English might write: "The dog which bit the man was brown." In this sentence, it is ambiguous whether the phrase "which bit the man" is serving to identify a particular dog among several candidates or just to provide background information about a dog whose identity is otherwise not in doubt. The reader must try to infer the distinction from context or from his own knowledge."

My point is that it is NOT ambiguous. Obviously, the phrase "which bit the man" identifies a particular dog among several candidates. The lack of a comma between the antecedent and the relative pronoun makes it clear, certainly to speakers of UK English, and probably to speakers of other varieties of English too. Fowler, that sensible man, would not have imagined that the phrase provided background information about a dog whose identity is not in doubt. Commas! It's about the commas! To anyone who can tell the difference between a comma and no comma, there is no ambiguity here. My suggestion was about getting rid of the word "ambiguous". (talk) 19:50, 21 April 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Number agreement

Is it just me or is the section called 'Formal and notional agreement' now barely comprehensible? First the title - I thought it was going to be about saying "Mmm" or "Uh-huh": I much prefer the title I have used here.

In the text, first we say that in AmE, collective nouns are almost always singular, but we end the paragraph by attributing to The New York Times a statement from the Capital Community College Foundation that seems to say the exact opposite.

In the examples, we have two BrE examples using the singular and one using the plural. Then in AmE we have one of each, singular and plural.

I don't know if successive tweaks and minor vandalism here and there have left the section meaningless, if I'm not reading it right, or if in fact there is no substantial difference in this regard, as seems to be demonstrated by our cites and examples.

--Nigelj (talk) 18:45, 25 April 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I thought exactly the same when I saw the last "update". Would you like to re-write the paragraph?
One problem is that someone will always find exceptions, so we'd better indicate a general tendency rather than an absolute rule. Dbfirs 19:56, 25 April 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Vocabulary - lexical

There is the extraordinary statement that a British English speaker using the word "chap" or "mate" for a friend would be like an American speaker using the Spanish word "amigo". This is labelled as "original research" in the article. Indeed I have no idea where this idea comes from. Chap is given as a colloquialism for man or boy in my Oxford dictionary (two editions dating from 1950s and 1960s respectively) with a derivation from the archaic word chapman=customer. According to the Online etymological dictionary : Colloquial sense of "lad, fellow" is first attested 1716. The same source gives mate as dting from the 14th century, as do Oxfod dictionaries. The statement in the article should be removed. PhilomenaO'M (talk) 07:20, 10 May 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I think what it means is "An American English speaker, hearing a British English speaker use the word "chap" or "mate" for a friend, would react as though (s)he [the original American English speaker] was hearing ANOTHER American English speaker using the Spanish word "amigo"" But it is an extraordinarily clumsy sentence and I agree with you about deleting it.Herbgold (talk) 07:51, 10 May 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I agree that the statement is unhelpful and needs to be removed (will you do this or shall I?)
"Chap" is both colloquial and dated (first clear cited used of this casual sense around 1750 according to the OED).
"Mate" is much older, with cites going back to 1380 in the OED third edition for the sense of comrade or friend, though the form of address goes back only to 1500. Dbfirs 08:21, 10 May 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]
This offending sentence is a case of misspeaking: the preceding context simply describes and then attempts to illustrate the case of any given speaker using an "other form of English"; thus the correct sense of the statement is:
For instance {an American} speaker using the word chap or mate to refer to a friend would be heard in much the same way as an American using the Spanish word amigo.
Stated correctly there is no original research involved; rather it is an observation of conventional knowledge.
Unless someone objects I will make this edit in a few days. Jbeans (talk) 04:34, 7 June 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I object. The statement is unhelpful in my opinion, and not even true except possibly as interpreted by a certain class of American readers. I've removed it. Can't we just state fact rather than use obscure comparisons that will not be understood world-wide? Dbfirs 06:04, 7 June 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Duly noted---that is, your opinions, including your intent to insult "a certain class .." of editor who would bring a different opinion. That was your intent, was it not?
But, you are a respected editor, so I hope to also learn your informed objection to the corrected sentence, to wit:
  • An American speaker using the word chap or mate (to refer to a friend) would be heard in much the same way as an American using the Spanish word amigo.
Dbfirs---and other editors: How does the corrected sentence illustrate, or fail to illustrate, the point of the contextual argument, which is: a speaker native to one form of English can be detected when using words from an "other form of English"? Jbeans (talk) 13:41, 7 June 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Apologies to Jbeans. No insult was intended to anyone, and certainly not to you. I should have phrased my comment more carefully. Could you explain in simple English what the sentence is intended to convey? Are you saying that these words give some information on the social class of the speaker? If so, then I agree with you, but is that a difference between American and British usage? Dbfirs 15:16, 7 June 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Thank you for your kind response. The purpose of the sentence is to illustrate the point being made by the narrative immediately preceding it; which is recast here, with emphasis mine, and with the corrected sentence appended:

[Though the influence of cross-culture media has done much to familiarize BrE and AmE speakers with each other's regional words and terms, many words are still recognized as part of a single form of English. Though the use of a British word would be acceptable in AmE (and vice versa), most listeners would recognize the word as coming from the other form of English and treat it much the same as a word borrowed from any other language. For instance, an American speaker using the word chap or mate would be heard in much the same way as an American using the Spanish word amigo.]

And it means: "most listeners would recognize" that the first English speaker is using words from an "other form of English"---here British English---that is not her/his native tongue; much the same as the second English speaker has "borrowed from [another] language"---here Spanish, also not his/her native tongue.

The characters need not be Americans, or British or American English; this similar arrangement would work as well> [For instance, a Canadian speaker using the word bloke would be heard in much the same way as an Australian using the French phrase mon ami.] Of course, the characters selected must be non-native to the language they borrow from---which was the problem with the original sentence. I detected no class bias in the original; just a mistaken match of characters. (I am content with leaving the matter as it is; I interpreted the original text as 'a misspoke', you, and our other colleagues, otherwise. And that, and the fix, are both ok with me. Thank you, and best regards to all.) Jbeans (talk) 01:13, 8 June 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Thank you for explaining, and I now see what you mean. Perhaps we could add a table showing words recognised as belonging mainly to each form of English. It would perhaps be best to avoid bringing in words from other languages. My misunderstanding (and the views of Philomena and Herbgold) were perhaps due to the obscurity of the sentence and the choice of examples that have other connotations in British English. Dbfirs 06:38, 8 June 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]

New York Red Bulls

In the Section on Nouns the article compares british and american englsih collective nouns using a bad example: BrE: FC Red Bull Salzburg is an Austrian association football club; AmE: The New York Red Bulls are an American soccer team. Since Bulls is plural, you don't see the difference between between the different way people do collective nouns. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:16, 12 June 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Suggestion for improving the article

I think it's worth mentioning in the article that American pop singer Britney Spears used a British word for the title of one of the unreleased tracks on her debut album, "...Baby One More Time", said song being called "Autumn Goodbye" instead of "Fall Goodbye". My concern is the following: why would an American singer use a British word for the title of a song? --Fandelasketchup (talk) 14:22, 8 May 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]

@Fandelasketchup - perhaps she needed a two-syllable word? Herbgold (talk) 14:35, 8 May 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]
... and the word "autumn" is quite commonly used in parts of America, though "fall" is rare in the UK. Dbfirs 14:44, 8 May 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I would like to also note that the section which says that "dreamt" is used much more in the US than in the UK as the past tense and past participle of "dream" is wrong, it's actually the other way around. Same goes for "leapt". --Fandelasketchup (talk) 17:41, 20 June 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]

External links modified

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Full Stops (Periods) after Mr Mrs etc.

DrKiernan (see latest edit) believes that there is now no difference between British and American usage in this respect. Do Americans regularly omit the period after Mr Mrs etc these days? If so, then this section can be removed. Dbfirs 20:44, 10 September 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The period is still Chicago style (16th ed), although it has never been AMA style. It is OK for the section to convey that Americans often forgo the period but that American style in published works has usually used it (more often than not). Quercus solaris (talk) 21:02, 10 September 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Thanks for clarifying. Dbfirs 22:04, 10 September 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]

"Wait and see"/"Just wait and see"

You are right that Americans tend to drop the "and" from sentences like "Come and see what I've bought" instead saying "Come see what I bought". But what about the sentence "Wait and see", also cast as "Just wait and see", as in the "outro" to the Oliver & Company song "Good company"? This was an American-produced movie (it was produced by Walt Disney Pictures) yet it retains the "and" on that last line of such song. --Fandelasketchup (talk) 07:57, 13 October 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]


I've removed baffles (synonym for silencer) as a difference between British and American English because the only reference to baffles with this meaning that Google can find for me is [here] where the price is in dollars and muffler is mentioned. Dbfirs 12:55, 16 October 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Motorbike exhaust systems are different from car exhausts. Car silencers come as a sealed box which is replaced as a whole. Bike silencers are on display and are often chromed and therefore expensive. The internal baffles can be replaced without the need to replace the whole silencer, and this is what your reference is pointing to. Have a look here and if you scroll down you will see "polished mufflers" with the baffles listed separately underneath. Martin of Sheffield (talk) 13:29, 16 October 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Thanks. So you agree that baffles are components of both silencers and mufflers? Dbfirs 09:03, 17 October 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Components, yes. Synonyms, no. Baffles are to silencers/mufflers as pistons are to engines. Martin of Sheffield (talk) 09:31, 17 October 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]
That's what I thought. Thanks again. Dbfirs 09:37, 17 October 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Definite Articles

"AmE omits, and BrE requires, the definite article in a few expressions[clarification needed] such as tell (the) time, play (the) piano."

Having spoken AmE all my life, I definitely hear the article in both phrases. Perhaps it can be ommitted in some forms of AmE, but the current text implies it is usually ommitted in most or all forms of AmE. (talk) 20:24, 9 October 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Ought the article to say "often omits"? Will you change it, or shall I? Dbfirs 19:15, 13 October 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]
... later ... I've inserted "often". It's true that British English requires the definite article. Dbfirs 09:38, 17 October 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Leading zeros in dates

Anon editor seems to think that leading zeros are never omitted in British English. This contradicts what is stated at Calendar date, Britishisms and English Club. I agree that computer programmers usually insist on leading zeros, but common usage often omits them. Dbfirs 09:53, 11 May 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]

For what it's worth, Dbfirs, I completely agree with you - it is complete nonsense to say, as Anon does, that the British user would see that 5/10/2015 could not mean the 5th October.Herbgold (talk) 10:55, 11 May 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Agreed, I often give my DOB as "five nine <two digit year>" and no one has ever thought that to be the ninth of May. I certainly would read 5/10/2015 as in October. Martin of Sheffield (talk) 12:39, 11 May 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Thanks for your support. seems to have very strong opinions based on original research (see arguments elsewhere). I don't know what his agenda is. Dbfirs 18:32, 11 May 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Just the facts, ma'am. I don't have an agenda. 5/10/2015 is October 5 and I never said different. I did say, however, that 05/10/2015 cannot be 10 May and 10/5/2015 on the header or footer of the printout of a webpage must be October 5. Likewise, 5/10/2015 in those limited circumstances must be May 10. If anyone thinks this to be wrong can they provide actual examples? (talk) 08:43, 12 May 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]
05/10/2015 is May 10th in America, of course, and 10/5/2015 in the UK would always be May 10th unless there were some reason to doubt this (such as an American-style web page as you now suggest). Your edit made no mention of web pages, and made a claim about British users that is clearly not a fact. I accept that you were thinking of British users with experience in a certain context, and that you don't have a trolling agenda. Dbfirs 09:08, 12 May 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Just how prevalent is MM/DD/YYYY in America? I would suggest that living in Cumberland (or Cumbria as they are wont to call it) you're not best placed to say. What I can say is that I have never seen it on American - style dates. I do know that in the American military, where leading zeroes are customary, the format is DD/MM/YY. (talk) 10:21, 12 May 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I don't, and never have lived in Cumberland (or Westmorland). Does living in the London Borough of Hackney make you an expert on American dates? Dbfirs 18:24, 13 May 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Put simply, the following are all 5th September this year:

9/5/2015 5/9/2015
9/05/2015 05/9/2015
09/5/2015 5/09/2015
09/05/2015 05/09/2015

Unless anyone can find a reliable secondary source, then quick scans of web pages counts as WP:OR and can't be used to support assertions. TBH, it all depends upon how you create the date: using the date utility (or whatever on Windows) or printf %n (ditto Win) or printf %02n or the output from a database ... the list is endless. Let's all get on with improving the encyclopedia. Martin of Sheffield (talk) 10:55, 12 May 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Dbfirs has confirmed that Chrome, Firefox and Internet Explorer format American - style dates on headers and footers of web page printouts without the leading zero and British - style dates with the leading zero. This is notable
Have I? I hardly ever print out web pages so I wouldn't know. I was just being kind and assuming that you'd tested your versions. Dbfirs 18:24, 13 May 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • because this is the only contact most people in this country have with the American dating style and
  • because it reduces the number of ambiguities to only six per year, which in 2015 are 11/10/2015, 12/10/2015, 10/11/2015, 12/11/2015,10/12/2015 and 11/12/2015.

Leading zeroes appear to be hardwired into programmes displaying UK style dates. For example, in Excel 2002 if a cell has had the Date number format applied, dates appear by default in a specific format. In the case of '12 August 2003' it is shown as 12/08/2003.

When separating date elements by dashes it is customary to use British style dates with leading zeroes, thus 04-Jul-1996. Constructions like Jul-4-1996 or Jul-04-1996 are never seen. In Windows, files have a date stamp attached to them (which can be accessed by right - clicking [filename]>properties). The dates are American style with no leading zeroes. I think there is enough evidence for us to be able to put in the article that when using the American style it is customary not to employ leading zeroes.

Not on my computer, but I no longer use XP. Dbfirs 18:24, 13 May 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]

In Windows XP you can open the Windows folder on your hard drive. Then right - click an empty area to get Arrange Icons By>Show in Groups. This brings up three columns of dates in the format 16/04/2002 18:15. I think there is enough evidence for us to say that in computer programmes dates accompanied by times where the month is not written in words are shown in British style with leading zeroes. (talk) 09:50, 13 May 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I think different operating systems have different options, but if you can find a reference for all these claims, then perhaps we can discuss whether they are relevant to the article. Dbfirs 18:24, 13 May 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Why does your userpage say you live in Garsdale if you don't live there? (talk) 13:55, 14 May 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I do live there, but your history of English counties needs updating. Dbfirs 15:16, 14 May 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]
In Windows XP the notation "javascript:alert(document.lastModified)" in the address bar brings up a date in the form 10/18/2002 16:10:42. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:19, 14 May 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Date and Time>Internet Time brings up a message in the form "Next synchronization: 25/02/2002 at 23:10" so clearly the presence or absence of a time has no effect on the date convention. What does have an effect is IS 8601, so that you see 2015-05-14 which runs counter to the "day before month with leading zeroes" convention. It may be that there is no protocol which says that leading zeroes are always used in British style and never in American style but the fact that it is always done this way means we can document it. (talk) 15:38, 14 May 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]
(1) You can't say always unless you really mean it is never, anywhere done the other way. (2) We can only document what secondary sources say, so you need a citation for this. Otherwise it is WP:OR and not acceptable. Martin of Sheffield (talk) 16:08, 14 May 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I would always read 10/5/2015 as "May ten (NOT 'tenth', because that would imply writing the day as 5/10th/2015 instead of 5/10/2015) twenty fifteen" because I tend to think the American way, that is, the month coming before the day. Oh, and I certainly would not even think about saying either "May the tenth" or "the tenth of May", both of them sound strange to me, partly due to the absence of the letters "th" when writing dates on Wikipedia articles, for example. I know they're present in letter writing, for example, but I never saw them used here (I would see, for example,"May 1", not "May 1st", do you see what I mean?) --Fandelasketchup (talk) 12:02, 20 June 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I see what you mean, but things are very different here in northern England. I would always read 10/5/2015 as "May tenth" (the older English convention) because it is the tenth day of May, and it sounds very strange to me to treat the ordinal as a numeral. If you think in the American way, do you not read the date as October 5th? I agree that there is a convention in Wikipedia to omit the "th". Dbfirs 16:10, 20 June 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Sorry if I was not clear, what I meant by " I tend to think the American way" is that I tend to do that WHEN READING DATES ALOUD be it by repeating after a certain recording or by reading them out loud myself. --Fandelasketchup (talk) 17:19, 20 June 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Also, regarding centuries, since English is unique in its use of Arabic numerals as compared to Roman ones, I think we should include in the article titled "English numbers" a note explaining why it occurs, because, for example, if you look at the French, Spanish or Italian Wikipedias, they'll all use Roman numerals for centuries as opposed to Arabic ones. I thought I'd suggest that here because, as centuries are part of the date system, since, for example, 2015 is the 21st century... --Fandelasketchup (talk) 17:36, 20 June 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]
English unique? I don't think so! English numerals#Dates would be the place for a comparison of usage, but years are given in Arabic numerals almost everywhere. It's only centuries that have Roman numerals in some European countries. Dbfirs 17:59, 20 June 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]
You said it, "almost" everywhere because, if you look at the end credits for the Mexican children's television shows El Chavo and Plaza Sésamo you'll see the production year in Roman numerals, not Arabic ones. --Fandelasketchup (talk) 10:16, 9 November 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]

BrE and AmE are ugly, confusing acronyms that reflect lazy writing

The acronyms "BrE" and "AmE" are not only visually ugly; they make the article harder to read because they are not known to general readers. Therefore, if a reader just drops down to a particular section -- rather than reading the lead paragraph where the acronyms are defined -- he will not know what he's reading. This is particularly unfortunate in an encyclopedia article that is supposed to be a reference source and (obviously) is not meant to be read from start to finish in one sitting like it's a novel. Writing should be reader-friendly, not lazy-writer friendly. I don't think it's an onerous burden to ask writers to write in whole words when doing so makes life easier for the reader.

— Preceding unsigned comment added by Rsquire3 (talkcontribs) 14:29, 15 May 2013‎ (UTC)Reply[reply]

I regret to defer with you, unsigned commenter. The acronyms are there to prevent the cacophony that is caused if we repeat the terms "American English" and "British English" more than once in the article. It is expected that, after having read the article's title, one knows just what the abbreviations AmE and BrE mean. --Fandelasketchup (talk) 13:09, 9 November 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Section 'quoting'

With narration of direct speech, both styles retain punctuation inside the quotation marks [...]

"Hello, John," I said. (both styles)

This is wrong and disagrees with Quotation marks in English #British practice. --2A02:1205:C6B8:1B60:7835:6804:C2A6:6AC (talk) 20:16, 1 November 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I don't see how it contravenes the British "fiction" rule. Could you explain why you think it is wrong? Dbfirs 21:40, 9 December 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I think this annoymous editor meant the British style is to say "said she" instead of "she said" as evidenced in Jane Austen's works. --Fandelasketchup (talk) 09:40, 16 December 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Have a read of the quoted section: "include within quotation marks only those punctuation marks that appeared in the original quoted material". In the example above the last line should read '"Hello, John", I said.' The comma is logically connected to the outer sentence, not to the quoted phrase. However when I requoted it the full stop is part of the original material. The IP user is quite correct, the article needs amending. In Quotation marks in English Fowler is quoted as a source which ought to satisfy any citation warriors. Martin of Sheffield (talk) 09:57, 16 December 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]
If the quoted example was a complete sentence then I agree, but if (as I assumed) the second comma appears in the original text, then it would be retained in British English, would it not? Perhaps we need a clearer example? Dbfirs 17:34, 16 December 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Agreed about a clearer example. A comma is a separator, so without the literal text that followed John it makes no sense whereas it does separate the quoted phrase from the following pronoun. Thinking about it, the only time I would move punctuation inside the quotes would be a full stop to indicate that the quoted text is a complete entity: '"He's off." I shouted' vs '"He's off", they told me'. Just my 2d worth. Martin of Sheffield (talk) 17:49, 16 December 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]


Since this section just says that styles vary within each country, should it be here at all? Do the American "downmarket" newspapers never write headings in capitals? Dbfirs 21:47, 27 December 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Concern about a portion of the article

In section 2.2.3 of the article, titled "Verbal auxiliaries", it is stated that:"Use of 'do' as a pro-predicate is almost exclusively British usage. For example:'Did Frank love nature or fair play?' — 'Why, he must have done' where the AmE response would be 'Why, he must have', omitting the form of 'do'." What I want to know is the following: what about statements like "Yes, I do love you" in response to the question "Do you love me?"? Are they also British in nature or can they be found in American English as well? I think the aforementioned section of the article doesn't make that clear to Wikipedia readers and editors alike. --Fandelasketchup (talk) 12:26, 29 December 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Place with Cardinal?

I searched for "eight place" and given the number of hits, I'm wondering if using the Cardinal with "place" is correct in some variety of English, i.e. "Smith finished the race in eight place." rather than what I use (AmE) "Smith finished the race in eighth place".Naraht (talk) 12:46, 10 January 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I'd regard that as an error by those for whom English is not a first language. I know of no countries where it is standard, and it's certainly not in British English. Did your search reveal any reliable sources? Dbfirs 17:49, 10 January 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Not really, a few places where they use it both ways in a story. Refering to "eight place settings" (8 plates, etc) is actually more common. I'll consider it a misspelling...

'Opening time'?

According to the OED, it is listing the term 'opening time' as British. If that's the case, then what is the American equivalent? Should this be listed on the article? (talk) 23:23, 7 January 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I think it's just less common in America, not really a difference. Thackeray used it in 1841, and Americans read Thackeray, don't they? Dbfirs 09:26, 11 January 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Pavement, hard shoulder and sidewalk.

Worth adding in that in the US, in the Southern US states, at least, Pavement is used for Hard Shoulder on motorways or interstates. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:09, 10 February 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]

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This article has a wrong sentence

I found a wrong sentence which is wrong in this article. It reads:"Phrases such as the following are common in Britain but are generally unknown in the US: 'A week today', 'a week tomorrow', 'a week Tuesday' and 'Tuesday week'; these all refer to a day more than a week in the future". The following video (taken by an American senior citizen called Stephen Adler) proves the sentence wrong because, if you listen closely, you will hear him say:"Today is Tuesday, and it was a week ago last Monday": [1]--Fandelasketchup (talk) 13:45, 24 May 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]

One (or indeed a few) specific examples do not disprove a generality. Mr Adler sounded to my ears as coming from the northeastern US. Would someone from the deep south or the western seaboard have used the phrase? Martin of Sheffield (talk) 14:18, 24 May 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Possibly incorrect information about "proved" vs "proven"

On the article it says that "proven" is very rarely used in British English, however around half the people I know, in particular younger people (in the UK) use it in the context that the article claims would be "proved" outside of American English. Is "proven" becoming more commonly used, or is the article wrong? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:11, 7 August 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Not only does the article have wrong information about that, but the following sentence is also wrong in section 2.3 "3 Presence or absence of syntactic elements":"Where a statement of intention involves two separate activities, it is acceptable for speakers of AmE to use to go plus bare infinitive. Speakers of BrE would instead use to go and plus bare infinitive. Thus, where a speaker of AmE may say I'll go take a bath, BrE speakers would say I'll go and have a bath. (Both can also use the form to go to instead to suggest that the action may fail, as in He went to take/have a bath, but the bathtub was full of children.) Similarly, to come plus bare infinitive is acceptable to speakers of AmE, where speakers of BrE would instead use to come and plus bare infinitive. Thus, where a speaker of AmE may say come see what I bought, BrE speakers would say come and see what I've bought (notice the present perfect: a common British preference)." This sentence is wrong because, in the song Eternal Flame by The Bangles, an American band, lead singer Susanna Hoffs sings in the chorus:"Say my name, love shines through the rain/A whole life so lonely, you come and ease the pain". Isn't that weird being the article says that the British would say that, not Americans? --Fandelasketchup (talk) 12:50, 8 November 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]
A couple of points: first it's not one but five sentences (better say a passage or section), and quoting any lyrics is dangerous. there is a long history of adapting grammar to suit metre, you can start with Virgil, pass through Chaucer, Shakespeare and end up with W S Gilbert and probably include every lyricist in between. I expect modern pop bands will similarly take liberties to ensure the rhythm is preserved so no, this does not prove your point. Incidently, is Hoffs the lyricist as well as performer? Martin of Sheffield (talk) 13:59, 8 November 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Improvement tags.

I agree that this article would benefit from improvement, but I find it a useful article. Perhaps critics could point out which sections in particular we could start work on? Dbfirs 22:01, 24 April 2017 (UTC)Reply[reply]

How should the article be split?

Given that the article is more than 100 kilobytes, the length would justify splitting the article. (See WP:SPLIT for details.) But exactly how should it be split? And given that I already created the page American and British English grammatical differences, which still may need work, I don't think I am the best one to make another split.LakeKayak (talk) 02:04, 1 May 2017 (UTC)Reply[reply]

On second thought, abiding to Mr Guye's proposal that we may have to blow up the article, the byte usage of the article has now been reduced to under 60 kilobytes. And this problem is solved.LakeKayak (talk) 02:31, 1 May 2017 (UTC)Reply[reply]

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Spit in the ocean

In the article, in Vocabulary section, Idiosyncratic differences, Equivalent Idioms, 10th line : A drop in the ocean is compared to spit in the ocean. This might be incorrect [1]. Also [2]. Hence I request someone expert, to do something about it. Katariasuman00 (talk) 08:15, 2 August 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]

  1. ^ "Spit in the ocean". Merriam Webster Dictionary. Retrieved 2 August 2018.
  2. ^ "Spit in the ocean". Retrieved 2 August 2018.

Coriander and camomile

The last bullet at § Word derivation and compounds says Examples of these include grocery markets' preference in the U.S. for Spanish names such as cilantro and manzanilla over coriander and camomile respectively. In my experience, and the consensus at Talk:Coriander, in the U.S., "cilantro" is used for the leaves and "coriander" is used for the seeds. Also, I only see "manzanilla" in the Spanish/Mexican/Latino food sections – elsewhere it is called "camomile". Can we come up with some more accurate examples? —[AlanM1(talk)]— 01:45, 18 November 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Oxford link

@BarrelProof: WP:LINKSTOAVOID says to avoid "Any site that does not provide a unique resource beyond what the article would contain if it became a featured article. In other words, the site should not merely repeat information that is already or should be in the article." By my reading, all of the spelling differences at List of American and British spelling differences are already covered, not in this article, but in American and British English spelling differences. The link would be more on-topic on that article rather than this one, but because it simply repeats what's already in the article, it's not helpful to readers, and I think it should just be removed. The internal article is linked from the "See also" section, so presumably readers interested in this content would click on that. Does that make sense, or am I missing something? -- Beland (talk) 05:58, 2 April 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]

(And thanks to AlanM1 for recovering that content, or else I wouldn't have been able to read it, if only to figure out it was redundant. -- Beland (talk) 06:01, 2 April 2019 (UTC))Reply[reply]

Mass deletions

Earlier this year a large amount of sourced information was removed from this article. For example:

There are many other examples. These removals were not discussed. If this information was to be removed, it should have been spilt into a separate article.

Onceinawhile (talk) 14:53, 12 November 2017 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I have restored all the deleted content I found to be on-topic and not redundant, except for muggle and social and cultural differences (though I took care of the last subsection of that with a link to floor numbering). In many cases there are in fact other articles that cover the same topics, but this article should still be an index or overall guide to the detail articles. In particular large portions of "Units and measurement" and "Punctuation" are probably redundant with other articles. Given how huge it is, the social and cultural section might want to be merged to other articles directly from the history. This article could also be made a lot shorter by turning prose into tables or just referring to the very long lists of terms that differ that are now linked. -- Beland (talk) 08:06, 2 April 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]
OK, I finished de-duplicating "Units and measurement" (which I renamed) and "Punctuation". I restored "Social and cultural differences" since it's easier to work with by chopping down than restoring piece by piece, and actually as it is it's a rather interesting read. -- Beland (talk) 06:23, 4 April 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Confusing sentence

I find the following sentence from section 2.3, titled "Holiday greetings", confusing as it only refers to winter, but not to summer, and in the Southern hemisphere, where I live, Christmas falls in summer, not winter:"It is increasingly common for Americans to say 'Happy holidays', referring to all, or at least multiple, winter holidays (Christmas, Hanukkah, Winter solstice, Kwanzaa, etc.) especially when the subject's religious observances are not known; the phrase is rarely heard in the UK. In Britain, the phrases "holiday season" and "holiday period" refer to the period in the summer when most people take time off from work, and travel; AmE does not use holiday in this sense, instead using vacation for recreational excursions." See? It clearly says "winter holidays". What I also find confusing is the use of "the subject" instead of the pronoun "one" in the part of the sentence which says "especially when the subject's religious observances are not known" --Fandelasketchup (talk) 20:24, 2 December 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]

This has been fixed by indicating which hemisphere the winter or summer is taking place in. -- Beland (talk) 07:00, 2 April 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Thank you! --Fandelasketchup (talk) 17:48, 6 December 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Missing comma after "Britain" and capital "I" after the colon

Read the following sentence from the article:"in Britain as in America, one says "an upward motion". The Oxford English Dictionary in 1897 suggested a semantic distinction for adverbs, with -wards having a more definite directional sense than -ward; subsequent authorities such as Fowler have disputed this contention." See something wrong? I do: it's missing a comma after "Britain" and a capital "I" after the colon.--Fandelasketchup (talk) 11:20, 8 April 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I've added the necessary comma. Why should there be a capital after a colon? Dbfirs 11:31, 8 April 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Because the text after the colon is treated as a new section, as if it were the body of a letter, and new sections begin with a capital letter. --Fandelasketchup (talk) 17:51, 6 December 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]


There are a lot of differences in clothing terminology. I'm not sure where that should go in this article though; any thoughts? It might merit its own article. This is just baby clothes but there are a LOT more!

Baby Clothes American English vs British English Infographic.png

Mvolz (talk) 11:42, 1 January 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]

BE vs AE: no figures about spheres of influence

Only the TENDENCY towards more AE influence at present and in the future is mentioned, but not a word about what is NOW the situation. Are there no estimates out there? Aren't NOW more people likely to understand BE terminology better than AE variants? Thinking of the Commonwealth, India... Anyone? Arminden (talk) 11:39, 21 March 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The different understandings of this word might make a good entry. --Dweller (talk) Become old fashioned! 09:22, 8 September 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I'm sorry but I don't see any differences in understanding in the disambiguation page. An oblong is non-square rectangle in both variants, the other entries are just named after the shape. I do think that the shape needs to be the principle meaning though. Regards, Martin of Sheffield (talk) 09:41, 8 September 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Differences between democratic English and aristocratic English

Because the US and the UK are very different countries in terms of their philosophy of government (democratic v. aristocratic) and philosophy of religion (Christian v. Anglican), there are some differences which work their way into their respective languages, the first of which being that in aristocratic societies there is language control, where the dominant language is a kind of constructed language with a lot of natural pushback from the public, and in democratic societies there is no language control save for that idea that the dominant language should be a natural language with no state controls. In this context, there are certain small elements found in the differences between American and British that have made it such that the democratic one has needed at times to fortify its language and its subsequent electronic language implementations, both civilian and military, such that aristocratic influence not creep in. Aristocratic language controls can creep in with new coinages, as aristocrats have historically considered it a right to coin new words, as well as censor words they think to be threats to the state. -There is a Fabric Throughout all of Reality (talk) 04:05, 21 November 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Wikipedia:Talk page guidelines says: "The purpose of an article's talk page... is to provide space for editors to discuss changes to its associated article or WikiProject. Article talk pages should not be used by editors as platforms for their personal views on a subject." This explains why an editor deleted it. User talk:There is a Fabric Throughout all of Reality#November 2020 says much the same thing.-- Toddy1 (talk) 21:35, 22 November 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Agree with Toddy1 Wikipedia is not a forum for personal opinions - and in this case - nonsense. The statement about "philosophy of government" and "philosophy of religion" is entirely inaccurate and does not warrant inclusion in an encyclopedia. I suggest that this user reads both WP:NOTFORUM and WP:OR. David J Johnson (talk) 15:30, 30 November 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]