Talk:Comparison of American and British English/Archive 9

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English in the US

It is a surprise England has not sued the USA for making unauthorised alterations to English! I wonder, is it possible to have a patent on a language?
Here's another original idea: How about allowing England to charge other countries to use English? B. Fairbairn (talk) 12:34, 22 August 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Car terminology

I suggest that car terminology be merged into this article or section. The title "Car terminolgy" in itself is rather ambiguous. What is in the article is specifically about terminology differences and should be merged with this article. R/T-รัก-ไทย (talk) 16:14, 24 August 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Merger completed. Car terminology is now a disambiguation page, as some of the material that had crusted there belonged in other articles. --Bejnar (talk) 05:42, 7 September 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Is a US "fender" really the same is UK "bumper"? I thought a fender was a wing or mudguard in British English. (talk) 11:42, 3 October 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Title of this article uses nonstandard English

I would suggest "Differences between American English and British English". I think this would generally be preferred in both varieties :) Grover cleveland (talk) 05:13, 31 August 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Concur. Darkfrog24 (talk) 18:00, 24 September 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Lane numbering

I deleted the two sentences UK traffic officials, firefighters and police officers refer to Lanes 1, 2 and 3 as slow, middle and fast lanes respectively. In the US the meanings are exactly reversed, with Lane 1 referring to the fast lane and so on. While I found some blog support for the first proposition. I note that in the former British colony of Singapore Lane 1 is the fast lane. Lane 2 the middle lane, and Lane 3 the slow lane. Fan, Henry S. L. (1990) "Passenger car equivalents for vehicles on Singapore expressways" Transportation Research Part A: General 24(5): pp. 391-396, page 394. As for the American method of numbering, I found both in particular usages. For example, the court case automobile accident reconstruction court case supported the assertion - fast westbound lane (lane No. 1) ... middle lane -- No. 2 lane ... No. 3 lane (slow lane) Culpepper v. Volkswagen of America, Inc., 33 Cal. App. 3d 510, 514 (Fourth Appellate District, Division Two, Court of Appeal of California, 1973). However, the rather official NRC report said the reverse - The highest speeds are in Lane 3, the median lane, and the lowest speeds are in Lane 1, the outside lane. Transportation Research Board, National Research Council (U.S.) (1997) Effects of transportation on energy and air quality‎ National Academy Press, page 8, ISBN 0-309-06169-5. The result seems to be that both Brits and Yanks tend to use the 1 for the slow lane, etc., so that it really isn't a difference in country, so much as local idiosyncrasies. --Bejnar (talk) 05:27, 7 September 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Real, past tense, in sport

I have noticed that lots of Americans drop the adverb in sentances. Like 'it was real good' as oppose to 'it was really good'. Is this in the article? Like here These look real big

Another thing is the use of past tense. Americans say 'did you ever see a dog?' as in have you ever seen a dog before in your life, but in British English this is recent past tense like 'did you ever see a dog run past?' like recently. I don't really know in English, but I remember in French, but Americans use the preterite tense I think, whereas British use the perfect tense. Another example is in American English 'Do you want some breakfast?' 'no I already ate'. In British English we would never say 'I already ate', we would say 'I have already eaten'.

I have noticed that Americans say 'I am in sport/dance/gymnastics' or even 'I take dance'. British people say 'I do sport/dance/gymnastics' or 'I go to gymnastics/dance/swimming (as in lessons)' or use attend. But I have never heard anyone say 'I am in dance', we also only say 'I take dance' if it is for example a optional module in school. Sweetie candykim (talk) 23:54, 12 September 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

You're citing some examples of incorrectly spoken American English! It's taught correctly in schools, but some of the British forms are considered to be "too uppity" for everyday usage.
I'm in sports, etc, would be correct if the speaker were referring to his occupation, but not as something he does on his own time; "taking" dance means the same in both countries.
"Have you ever seen a dog?" is correct; "did you see a dog run past?" (not "ever see"), is also correct AmE. Radiopathy •talk• 16:13, 24 September 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Concur. I would expect a ballerina with the American Ballet Company to say, "I am in dance" to mean "I dance for a living," but a high school girl would say, "I take dance," meaning that she takes classes or "I am into dance," meaning that she likes dance and/or considers it to be part of her identity. Darkfrog24 (talk) 03:39, 25 September 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Can we get a direct on Jargon File?

Exactly what did Jargon File say about why American hackers switched to the British system of punctuation with regard to periods and commas with quotation marks? That stuff about "changing the fundamental meaning of the quote" can be inferred to mean the meaning of the text, which isn't something that the American system does. I've removed that part of the text for the time being, but does anyone here know exactly what JF said? Darkfrog24 (talk) 04:21, 24 September 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply] --Espoo (talk) 20:53, 24 September 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Okay, so the writer of this essay believes that American style causes problems but it cites data strings, not texts, as examples of times when the system can change the meaning. These are all cases in which the American system puts the period or comma outside the quote anyway. This is about what I thought it would say, but I wanted to be sure. I'll rejoin the separated sentence, but the line about the American system changing meaning should stay out unless we want to put it into a context that would make it clear that JF is talking about data strings rather than facts. Darkfrog24 (talk) 22:43, 24 September 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Not sure what you're trying to say here. 1) JF uses the example with words not to talk about texts but to prove a point about data strings. JF uses the word example because many US readers that wouldn't care about or would simply nod and forget about something like "dd". instead of "dd." would notice that “Bill runs”, and looks unusual and would remember this. 2) Are you saying what JF says about the following is not true anymore?: Standard [US] usage would make this Then delete a line from the file by typing “dd.” --Espoo (talk) 08:26, 25 September 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]
A couple of days ago, the article read that Hackers switched styles, "because applying inside punctuation in a quotation can sometimes change the fundamental meaning of the quotation." To a casual reader, this to means that using American style punctuation can change the meaning of strings of words such as "I am John" or "The North American beaver was once close to extinction." Because American style cannot actually do this, I was confused as to why the article would claim that it could. I figured that the actual text of JF would reveal either that hackers believed that American punctuation could change the meaning of words or, as we have seen, the issue with data strings.
I agree that the JF writer was wise to use examples with words to show what he or she was talking about, but he or she does not maintain that their meaning is altered or that this was the reason why hackers started using British styles. Rather, he or she uses strings of characters (dd and dd.) to show this.
Standard U.S. usage does place the period outside the quotation marks in circumstances such as you have described, but I do not know when this exception was first made. It was probably after the rise of computer programming as a profession, but it was definitely before the 1999 edition of the Bedford Handbook. The exception for "dd". etc is present in the MLA, Chicago Manual of Style, and probably most of the others. It's standard American English now. Darkfrog24 (talk) 14:20, 25 September 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]


But English English differs from say Scottish English... Flosssock1 (talk) 17:28, 17 November 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Scots English is very similar to English English, only more heavily influenced by the Scots language. Every dialect of English is slightly different, having different influences and developments, while still retaining (in most situations) total understanding between it's self and other dialects. But what's your point? Hanii (talk) 04:12, 19 December 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Scotland and England use the same written English, but in spoken language they're not very alike at all, and if anything (ignoring a few recent shared innovations) US English is closer to English English/British English, certainly in phonology and grammar. Also, it's only a matter of opinion that Scots and Scottish English are different. If a Scotsman starts speaking "British English" he is definitely not speaking the English native to Scotland. It's just one of the many things that are wrong with the concept "British English" when using the term to mean spoken language ... it's simple political cognition trumping linguistic reality. Deacon of Pndapetzim (Talk) 04:33, 19 December 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]
There are very fair differences between Scots English and Scots. Saying something like "so how are you doing?" in Scots English would come out like "So howur yih døn" (ø representing the same sound as in nordic languages, that can also be heard, for instance, when some people with English accents say "murder" and it comes out like "mødih", but in Scots would simply be "sae fit like?". Hanii (talk) 00:42, 4 February 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I think the problem here is that someone has taken an apple, drew a face on it and tried to call it something different. There's only one type of English language and it came from England. You wouldn't call a bird with a mutation a new species of animal in the same way as that you wouldn't try and put peanut butter and jelly/jam in bread, whilst attempting to call it something other than a sandwich!

The Oxford & Cambridge dictionaries never attempted to prescribe words and language, instead they chose to document them. Therefore, the "American" way of speaking is nothing new and is no more valid than say, a regional accent from Scotland or Cornwall, or Australia, or anywhere else for that matter. -- (talk) 04:40, 19 December 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Nigelj, the reason that I changed the article to read (with the word 'the' omitted):

in the recent past the expression 'to read a subject' was more common at older universities such as ...

rather than :

in the recent past the expression 'to read a subject' was more common at the older universities ...

was because I think that the statement applies to a subset of the older British and Irish universities (Oxford, Cambridge, Durham, Trinity College) rather than the whole (which includes St Andrews, Aberdeen, Glasgow and Edinburgh), as the current form implies.

-- ZScarpia (talk) 16:30, 13 March 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Fair enough. If you know how they talk (or used to, recently) at these places, and I have to admit I don't, then go ahead. What we really need for this kind of stuff is citable references, but they're hard to come by. Generally, I tweak small unreferenced changes here back to the status quo as there are many people who want to make useless changes to this article - like working the names of their favourite sports teams, university colleges etc into the examples. If this is a thoughtful and helpful contribution, please accept my apologies and go ahead with it. --Nigelj (talk) 11:29, 14 March 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I'm sure that at three of those universities they wouldn't, for the last four decades at least (not very far back in terms of the recent past, admittedly), have talked about reading a subject. I came across an authoritative looking webpage on differences between American and British English, but on examination it looks like it's using, without acknowledgement, an old version of the current article. Interestingly, when it discusses reading a subject, it specifically mentions Oxford and Cambridge: In the UK, a student is said to study a subject (or, at Oxford or Cambridge, to read a subject), while in the U.S., a student either studies the subject or majors in it (except at a few Ivy League schools, such as Princeton University, Brown University, and Harvard University, where one "concentrates" in it). Presumably somebody at some stage felt that limiting it to those two was too restrictive. My preference, unless a source can be found to show that all of those that may be regarded as the older universities at one time used the phrase "reading a subject", would be to change, as I did before, the article to read "at older universities such as Oxford and Cambridge." Otherwise, I would be happy with "at the oldest universities, Oxford and Cambridge." I'd like to admit to feeling a bit embarrassed about arguing about the inclusion or omission of the word "the." -- ZScarpia (talk) 01:44, 15 March 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Going back through the edit history 500 edits at a time gives an interesting view as to how the wording of this sentence has evolved over the last few years. I found pretty much what have copied dated Jan 2007.[1] I'm sure you'll either find a wording that you're happy with if you do the same, or you'll see enough options that a short and clean version will occur to you. Meanwhile, I'll keep looking for a reference - maybe some usage in fictional writing will come up and be usable. It's worth looking into these things to try to get them right, even if it does get a bit detailed here and there! --Nigelj (talk) 19:46, 15 March 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I see things hotted-up for a while back in April 2007. Thanks for listening to my opinion. I'll leave you to do with it what you think best. -- ZScarpia (talk) 01:19, 16 March 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

One English Language, but many usages

The introduction should mention this is an article about American usage of English to describe different usages of the English language, i.e.: There are many usages, but only one language and speakers of one usage can usually easily understand people speaking or writing other usages.

In the English language, there are many usages, for example:

Australian usage American usage Canadian usage Irish usage Scottish usage Welsh usage

but the expressions: American English, British English, English English

are actually examples of American usage to express: American usage, British usage and without tautology, English or standard English.

  • Practical English Usage, Third Edition, Oxford University Press.
  • Collins English Dictionary: 30th Anniversary Edition, Tenth edition, HarperCollins UK
  • The Oxford English Dictionary, Third Edition, Oxford University Press (talk) 22:55, 28 June 2010 (UTC)Aerodramatics90.208.220.6 (talk) 22:55, 28 June 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Nah. Dialects are not "usages". They are dialects. -- Evertype· 00:30, 29 June 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]


Can someone experienced in editing this page, and knowing its archives, look at Wikipedia:Main Page/Errors#Karachi and WP:RD/L#"Hometown", and consider whether any additions need to be made here to cover the points made in those discussions? Basically, it seems that the one word "hometown" is used regularly in the US and South Asia (and perhaps elsewhere) to convey place of origin, irrespective of size, but that, in the UK (and perhaps elsewhere) that is not the case - we usually use "home town" (two words) if the place of origin is a town (relatively small urban settlement), but would be more likely to use a different term if it wasn't. There is a disamb page on hometown, by the way. Ghmyrtle (talk) 14:40, 20 September 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Hmm. Yes and no. My home town is Leicester, despite the fact that it is a cathedral city of long standing, and I'm pretty sure that I have never heard any city person dispute the question 'What is your home town?' even when their answer is 'London'. Where you will find city people taking offence is if the word 'town' is used on its own, without 'home'. Refer to Bath, for example, as 'this town' and its natives are likely to immediately respond 'City!' At the other end of the scale, someone from a village will probably not call that their 'home town'. They will either tell you that they are from a village 'Near X' (X being a town or city) or will say that their home town is X, and only clarify that it's a village outside of X if you ask for further detail. But I'm not entirely sure that this doesn't happen in other countries, too. Grubstreet (talk) 23:50, 9 October 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I'd agree with that. Truro is my home town, although it is a city. You rarely hear it referred to by locals as a town unless it's in the context of "home town". On a different note, I have often heard Spaniards refer to their birthplace / home village as "my village", in cases where they are not born in cities or larger towns. Bretonbanquet (talk) 23:56, 9 October 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Full stops/Periods in abbreviations

In this bullet point in the article, the reason for lack of dots after Mr, Mrs, Prof etc in written BrE is said to be to do with the difference between abbreviation and contraction. I read this too in the back or front pages of the Concise OED many years ago, but then many examples contradict that explanation. From memory, I think the reason is more to do with a change in the way typing was taught in UK schools and secretarial colleges in about the late 1960s. I think it had more to do with an efficiency drive to make typing pools more productive, and it may have had something to do with the 'Pitman 2000' method. Typists were taught no longer to tab addresses across to the right-hand side of the page in letters, to omit commas after each line of addresses, to omit the comma after 'Dear Sir', to omit all dots after abbreviations and contractions, and other changes, all designed to reduce the number of keystrokes in a typical letter or memo and lead to a 'cleaner' looking page. I was only a teenager (and a male, so not doing 'typing' as a school subject), but I remember that it was all seen as a move away from Victorian pomposity and wartime punctiliousness, toward the white-heat of technology and time-and-motion perfection! Unfortunately I can't find any refs to support these ideas. Does anyone know where the 'history of letter typing' is documented for posterity? --Nigelj (talk) 10:09, 4 November 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Public education

Dear Nigelj, You undid my addition with the comment "No, that's just unnecessary confusion. What you refer to is called "home education" in UK. " Perhaps I didn't make my point clearly, but I was referring to the historical derivation of the term "public" school in the UK. While what you write may be true today, in the 16th century the term "public" education came into use in a similar fashion to the word "public house" (pub), i.e. a house that was open to the public. Prior to the 16th century education of other than the nobility was only available to a very few people through the religious orders. In the 16th century, as a result of the reformation and the rise of Protestantism, the idea that an educated populace might be desirable began to take hold, and grammar schools--public-schools--became established in order that the children of the growing middle class might receive as good an education as had previously only been available to the people in the very top stratum of society. Public schools were established throughout England, even in small towns, for example the King's New School in Stratford-upon-Avon where Shakespeare received his superb education, one so good that even today people argue that his plays must have been written by someone else because he wasn't one of the "University Wits". This is explained in detail in the Oxford English Dictionary: "Public education, education at school as opposed to being privately 'educated' ..." jdoniach

The above copied here from my talk page. This is all interesting and I see that you have reinstated the sentence with a ref to the OED. I wonder, if the point is relevant, if it should be made clearer that this is largely an historical usage? Also, what do others here think? --Nigelj (talk) 18:36, 5 November 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

X-ed out

This BBC article:

states that "x-ed out" is used in US slang but not in British slang WhisperToMe (talk) 09:13, 20 January 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

American influence in British English pronounciation

The 'conTROversy' over changing pronunciations by Jasper Copping. Anybody has an insight on this? Komitsuki (talk) 11:50, 23 February 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

in/on an exam (or a test)

Any sources for a UK/US split? --Espoo (talk) 08:56, 14 March 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

use of the word "queue" in (technical) American-English

Usage of "queue" among Americans has increased in the last twenty years.

Usage of "queue" among Americans has increased in the last twenty years, maybe since it is a common technical computing term (a computer's list of actions it will perform in turn; for example a "print queue" - an ordered line of waiting print jobs); hence programer terms "enqueue" (add to the tail of a waiting line), and "dequeue" (remove from the head of a line, usually for immediate processing). (talk) 09:40, 2 April 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Usage of names for lanes

The article says: "In the US, outside lane is only used in the context of a turn, in which case it depends on which direction the road is turning (i.e., if the road bends right the left lane is the 'outside lane', but if the road bends left it is the right lane)."

While this is very much true for a turn in the road, it's quite common to hear the left lane referred to as the "outside lane" and the far right lane referred to as the "inside lane", sometimes with an additional directional qualifier beforehand. Examples: "Turn right onto 285 and get into the outside lane because you'll need to take a left at the next light." "As soon as you come off the highway get in the right, inside lane because you'll need to turn at the first light". —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:09, 21 September 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

See the note in -- "In British English the meanings of inside and outside lanes are the reverse of US English. So in Britain, overtaking is performed using the outside lane, in the US it is termed the inside lane. In both cases, it is the innermost lane of the roadway." -- (talk) 13:25, 12 May 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Include Australia, Canada

This whole series of articles focuses only on the US and UK. It would be much more comprehensive and useful if it was instead made an article on differences between national varieties of english, and included at least australia and canada, but any other country eg new zealand, ireland, etc, where a different use predominates for a term.

I realise that given the multitude of different terms that exist in these countries (particularly Australia, not quite as sure about canada), this will take quite some time and effort, but i think it would make a much more useful and comprehensive article where everything is all in the one place. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Saruman-the-white (talkcontribs) 07:52, 3 June 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Football language or culture

"The word "football" in BrE refers to Association football, also known as soccer. In AmE, "football" means American football (although "soccer", a contraction of "association (football)", the standard AmE term, is also of British origin, derived from the formalization of different codes of football in the 19th century, and was a fairly unremarkable usage (possibly marked for class) in BrE until relatively recently; it has latterly become falsely perceived as an intrusive Americanism)."

I just wanted to query this passage and see what others thought. I wouldn't really consider this a difference between AmE and BrE, it is more a difference in the cultures of the United States and Britain. I'd expect that the use of AmE and BrE extended beyond those two countries also. Football tends to be the name given to whichever is the most dominant football code in a country or area, but it isn't used exclusively. LunarLander // talk // 18:29, 9 April 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Perhaps the real difference is that "soccer" is a slang term in BrE, as is "rugger" to mean Rugby football. Laurec (talk) 16:45, 30 August 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Numbers: citation needed

"There is also a historical difference between billions, trillions and so forth. Americans use billion to mean one thousand million (1,000,000,000), whereas in the UK, until the latter part of the 20th century, it was used to mean one million million (1,000,000,000,000).[citation needed]" There's a good source of citation to be found here: . Now, I don't have a clue about Wiki formatting syntax, and I don't have the time to learn it on the fly now (I've come here more or less by accident via an online research). Could somebody please insert this citation into the text? Thanks. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:31, 2 July 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

American and British English differences : Divergence : Other ambiguity (complex cases)

... word fanny is a slang word for vulva in BrE but means buttocks in AmE – the AmE phrase fanny pack is bum bag in BrE.

... word fanny is a slang word for vulva in BrE but means buttocks in AmE – the AmE phrase fanny pack is bum bag in BrE. Other embarrassing terms sometimes met in a business environment are "Rubber", a slang word for contraceptive-sheath in AmE but means "pencil-eraser" in BrE, and "momentarily", which means "IN just a moment - very soon" in AmE, but "FOR a moment - briefly" in BrE. (talk) 10:20, 2 April 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Disagree (other than with "fanny"). "Rubber" can be used as a word for a condom, but usually it's just rubber (like a rubber band, rubber eraser, or rubber ball). "Momentarily" can be used either way-- "I'll be with you momentarily," and "he paused momentarily." Venku Tur'Mukan (talk) 00:34, 21 October 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]


BrE used to follow what here is documented AmE usage. Personally, I can remember being taught this in the 1960s; to refer to parentheses as brackets was considered ill-educated and would certainly not have escaped my English teacher! In Gilbert & Sullivan's "The Gondoliers" the song "Take a Pair of Sparkling Eyes" contains the line "Take a tender little hand ... Press it, press it, in parenthesis" [2]. The allusion is to the singer (Marco) pressing his beloved's hands between his, making the shape of parenthesis. I would suggest that common understanding if not plebeian usage in 19thC London therefore followed AmE. It might also be relevant that in music the sign linking the two staves of keyboard scores are linked by a brace. Martin of Sheffield (talk) 14:02, 28 June 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

American here-- As far as I know, typically parentheses = (), brackets=[]... Brackets/Parentheses gives good information on that subject. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Venku Tur'Mukan (talkcontribs) 00:46, 21 October 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Prepositions after direct objects

I'm American, and I've noticed this when watching British TV. I'd like to know what the rules are, and if the difference is real I think it would be a good addition to the article. I've noticed that in British English prepositions following direct objects are sometimes omitted when they would be present in American English. For example, I might hear BrE "Bob prevented Stacy running into the street." Whereas in AmE it would be "Bob prevented Stacy from running into the street." Introw (talk) 01:11, 19 September 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I'm British and "Bob prevented Stacy running into the street" just sound wrong to me. Is it a regional or dialect usage? -- Q Chris (talk) 06:27, 19 September 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I'm also British and it doesn't sound at all wrong to me. My experience of BritEng is that either could be used, equally. Ghmyrtle (talk) 06:50, 19 September 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Yet another Brit! On balance I would prefer the fuller form, but would not be surprised to hear the shorter form in spoken language. I would suggest, however, that omitting the "from" would be poor written style. Martin of Sheffield (talk) 07:55, 20 September 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I'm American and I think I've heard or read the latter form, though it's not common. Mostly it's done that way when people don't know how to speak properly. Like Martin of Sheffield said, it would probably be used primarily in conversational or informal language. Venku Tur'Mukan (talk) 00:38, 21 October 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Sorry, I meant that the sentence without "from" is less common. Venku Tur'Mukan (talk) 00:47, 3 November 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Increasing confusion

I added ", but [RP] is only spoken by about two percent of the United Kingdom's population (with citation)".

Nigelj please explain the comment "Increasing confusion between dialect and accent. sorry my mobile phone is not conducive to a bet... " for this reversal -- PBS (talk) 21:15, 26 December 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The rest of that summary was meant to say, "Sorry, my mobile phone is not conducive to a better edit. The new ref is good." I'm going to have another look now, and try to do better. --Nigelj (talk) 21:51, 26 December 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I've had a go at basing the paragraph (well, I combined two paras too) in this edit. Most of this article is about word-use and phraseology, not accent. A lot of the new British Library ref (the old Independent one is a dead link, so I have no idea what it used to say) is about how British people speak however they like depending on their background and the situation. The Queen speaks in an archaic form of RP, most people can lapse into regional dialects when with their family but become quite 'standard' in a job interview. Many very educated people will become quite 'street' with mates in a pub. These are the sort of points that I think make BrE interesting at this level of overview. --Nigelj (talk) 22:51, 26 December 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The Indy has re-arranged its old articles and they are not always available, but many of them are also syndicated. In this case the article is still available as
You have not explained why you reverted the edit I made yesterday. I am not going to revert your edit in its entirety but am going to put back in the %age, and I am going to remove the last sentence as I think it involves OR and is not supported by the source. I think your justification of it on this page is a personal POV. For example one could equally argue that as only 2% of the population speak RP those that do are more likely to adjust their accent to that of the interviewer (who is far more likely to speak with a non RP than with). Either way it is speculative. -- PBS (talk) 02:42, 27 December 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
This sentence "It is referred to colloquially as "BBC English", "Oxford English" and "the Queen's English", although none of these actually use or require it exclusively." is clumsy as the Queen uses it exclusively, and Oxford English is another term for RP (it does not mean the accent used by the people who live in the industrial suburbs of Oxford), it only applies to the BBC who have for at least 30 years have put people in front of the microphone who speak with a moderately strong regional accent.
Now that I have found a copy of the original source. I think the original wording with the 2% RP addition I added is better than the current wording. -- PBS (talk) 02:59, 27 December 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
My point is, and always has been that this paragraph in the WP:LEDE, which is meant to summarise the article, was and now again is mostly about the accent known as RP. This is not an article about regional or national accents. However, you seem very keen on that, and I do not have the enthusiasm to argue. As that may, I have corrected the version you left: I had tried to combine two minor points about RP into one sentence - (a) it is used by 2% of the UK population, (b) most of them English people. The article is about phrases and word-choices. Regarding the colloquial names for RP, please see the ref you cited, "The Queen, for instance, speaks an almost unique form of English, while the English we hear at Oxford University or on the BBC is no longer restricted to one type of accent." Whatever. --Nigelj (talk) 21:11, 27 December 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Accusing me of OR is a bit more serious, as that is against core WP policies. There was no OR in the sentence you have struck - all of it is based on points made in the source you cited. There was editorial selectivity - I chose point made in the ref about word use, "colloquialisms and regional features", as that is what this article is about. --Nigelj (talk) 21:19, 27 December 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

U.S children count; in the UK they number

I tried to find a source for this, but failed. Of a random sample of fifty usages from the British National Corpus, there were no examples at all for using number as a verb, although of course the OED includes this sense. Deleted. --Old Moonraker (talk) 22:15, 27 December 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Of course there is no source - the assertion made in the [now revoked] edit is abject nonsense. JohnArmagh (talk) 22:23, 27 December 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

University: Oxford and Cambridge

I've just amended the example in the University section to use Oxford rather than Cambridge as the UK comparator. In the sort of formal British English where you read a subject, Cambridge students would always refer to the Tripos they are in, and for a biologist, that would be "Natural Sciences". Within the Natural Sciences Tripos, the student might well major in biology. Because of the confusion likely to be caused by the unique tripos system at Cambridge, I've amended the example to Oxford instead - the explanation of the Cambridge system belongs on Tripos not here. Richard Gadsden (talk) 22:55, 19 February 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

AmE Allows "Dove" and "Snuck"?

How about a source for this? To my knowledge, these are definitely only colloquialisms and are never considered correct. --David.f.dana (talk) 15:16, 1 June 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Most of the article is written in the sense of what is 'common', 'used', 'heard', etc. If this sentence speaks of 'allowed' then that is probably only for variety. A language isn't a rule-book, and there is no one to give or refuse permission. Surely you're not saying that these two words are never used in the US? --Nigelj (talk) 18:41, 1 June 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

"Snuck" is included as an acceptable past tense of "sneak" in American Dictionaries. I personally had not heard anyone say "sneaked" until I was about thirty years old.

"I can't be arsed"/"I can't be assed"

Living in the United States my whole life, I have not only heard the phrase "I can't be assed", but also have used it myself on several occasions. It seems to be a direct analogy to "I can't be arsed" that BrE has. However, I'm not sure where to find any sources to back up this phrase's usage within American English so I'm commenting it here because otherwise would basically be anecdotal evidence and not verifiable. --Mike (talk) 09:58, 28 February 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Surely it's just a variation of arse/ass. -mattbuck (Talk) 11:59, 28 February 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I have to agree, but the article made note of "I can't be arsed" as though it were an exclusively BrE phrase. In a sense it is, but it's got a nearly-perfect replica in AmE anyway... --Mike (talk) 22:25, 28 February 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I think "I can't be arsed" is only there because of someone's little joke involving "I can't be asked". It should probably go if "I can't be assed" can be verified in any way. --Nigelj (talk) 18:44, 1 June 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]


As a Brit living in the US, I am often made aware that Americans use the verb "to bring" in all situations where a Brit would use either "to bring" or "to take". I've tried explaining to my (American) wife the difference, but it is very difficult to formulate definitive rules. I know it has something to do with the direction of motion between the person talking and the person listening, but there is also a time element that comes into play. It appears to be something that Brits can determine subconsciously without being able to specify why. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:36, 17 August 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

My initial thought is that "to bring" is when the direction of motion is toward the listener, and "to take" is when you're moving away from the listener. Bring is used interchangeably with take (in this sense) in American English, but take does not seem to be used in the usual sense of bring (towards the listener). "I'll take some food to the woman down the street" vs "Here Mrs Down The Street, I brought you some food." — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:58, 14 September 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The OED has "bring: to cause to come along with onself, to fetch" and later includes the concept of attractive force. Quotes go back to 930. Take is more complex, originally it had the sense of touch or seize ("take hold of"). Hence to carry ("I'll take it with me") or remove ("take it off him") and generally adopt ("take care" or "take a stance"). By the 12thC it included the sense of take away, but has never been limited to this directional interpretation. HTH! Martin of Sheffield (talk) 08:38, 14 September 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Scone vs. Biscuit

"Words such as bill (AmE 'paper money,' BrE and AmE 'invoice') and biscuit (AmE: BrE's 'scone', BrE: AmE's 'cookie')" A scone is not the same thing as a biscuit. (talk) 01:28, 11 October 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

That's not what the sentence was trying to say. I've rewritten the first part of the paragraph to try and elucidate. Martin of Sheffield (talk) 09:17, 11 October 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

AmE: Major vs. Concentration

In the US a student studies or majors in a subject (although concentration or emphasis is also used in some US colleges or universities to refer to the major subject of study).

In my experience, this is not technically accurate. There is generally a difference between a major and a concentration. My degree is a good example. I have a BA in Theatre and Dance (and yes, they used the British spelling, to distinguish between Theatre, the art, and theater, a building), with a concentration in Acting. So I would say I was majoring in Theatre and Dance, but I would say my concentration was Acting. Although, I would never say I was "concentrating in acting."

I'm not sure how universal this usage is, though. I'm not sure the best way to clarify that section, but I'm sure it's not entirely accurate. Dan0 00 (talk) 03:47, 23 November 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

American-British English translation

... exists as a paying profession (according to the NUJ London Freelance website).

Are there other 'bi-English comparison pages' (given that some dialects such as Strine have their own names)? Jackiespeel (talk) 22:27, 14 December 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Rivers in non-English-speaking countries

If this grammar rule is correct that AmE uses "<name> River" and BrE uses "River <name>", can it be acceptable to say on articles like List of rivers of Japan the difference in grammar? ~ Tony64 (Talk) 02:40, 20 February 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Wikipedia does not favour one particular style of English over another, see WP:ENGVAR. It does mandate that within a single page the usage should be consistent policy WP:CONSISTENCY applies. If the page has a close link to a particular style of English ("Great Fire of London" => British, "American Civil War" => US) then policy WP:TIES applies. In the case of Japaneese rivers there is no such (obvious) tie. Hence the fallback choice is WP:RETAIN which means that unless there is a clear concensus for change then the original style is to be retained. In the present case the US "<name> River" is already employed and should therefore be retained. I hope that clarifies it a bit. Regards Martin of Sheffield (talk) 10:34, 20 February 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I see, thankyou for clarifyin' :) ~ Tony64 (Talk) 13:05, 20 February 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]


I'm sure that AmE fenders are BrE mudguards (especially front mudguards), and seems to agree. However we have

  • BrE bumper = AmE bumper, fender<ref name="Hargis63"/> <!-- Bumper is also used in American English for this purpose, although less commonly than fender. -->

I've added a mudguard entry to the table, but now it's a bit self-contradictory. --Nigelj (talk) 20:55, 13 July 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

OK, I've tidied it up with this edit. With reference to Fender (vehicle), Bumper (automobile), and Fender (wikt), I can't find any BrE/AmE difference in the use of bumper, but fender definitely refers to what in BrE we might call a mudguard, wheel arch or wing on a car or bike. I imported a ref from the lede of Fender (vehicle). --Nigelj (talk) 21:13, 13 July 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I am a native BrE speaker, and I have no references for the following statement of my mere opinion: I am not trying to start any sort of argument here. However, my understanding is that BrE "bumper" refers exclusively to "the sacrificial bits of a motorised vehicle at the front and at the back which are designed to absorb small impacts to preserve the main body of the car (automobile) in the event of a < 10 mph impact from another vehicle - these were chromed on vehicles built until the 1970's but are slightly more integrated into the general body than they used to be and often are now coloured with the paint finish of the car". "Bumper" (BrE) does not include, to my understanding, wings, wheel arches, or mudguards. I always understood the AmE "fender" to mean the same thing. If AmE "fender" is commonly understood to include wheel arches, mudguards, etc. , then that is a difference in meaning, as I have always understood it, from the BrE "bumper". I felt, on reading the article, that there was a subtle difference between this opinion on the relative meaning of the BrE "bumper" and the AmE "fender", and what I was led to believe from other sources. However, I confess that I also realised that I do not know the precise usage of the AmE "fender" and only offer this opinion in the hope that a more accurate reflection of the relative meaning of the two terms can be effected in the article. TrohannyEoin (talk) 04:12, 30 March 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]