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Реферат: English is the national language /english/


Every language allows different kinds of variations: geographical or
territorial, perhaps the most obvious, stylistic, the difference between
the written and the spoken form of the standard national language and
others. It is the national language of England proper, the USA,
Australia, New Zealand and some provinces of Canada. It is the official
language of Wales, Scotland, in Gibraltar and on the island of Malta.
Modern linguistics distinguishes territorial variants of a national
language and local dialects. Variants of a language are regional
varieties of a standard literary language characterized by some minor
peculiarities in the sound system, vocabulary and grammar and by their
own literary norms.

Standard English – the official language of Great Britain taught at
schools and universities, used by the press, the radio and the
television and spoken by educated people may be defined as that form of
English which is current and literary, substantially uniform and
recognized as acceptable wherever English is spoken or understood. Its
vocabulary is contrasted to dialect words or dialectisms belonging to
various local dialects. Local dialects are varieties of the English
language peculiar to some districts and having no normalized literary
form. Regional varieties possessing a literary form are called variants.
Dialects are said to undergo rapid changes under the pressure of
Standard English taught at schools and the speech habits cultivated by
radio, television and cinema.

The differences between the English language as spoken in Britain. The
USA, Australia and Canada are immediately noticeable in the field of
phonetics. However these distinctions are confined to the
articulatory-acoustic characteristics of some phonemes, to some
differences in the use of others and to the differences in the rhythm
and intonation of speech. The few phonemes characteristic of American
pronunciation and alien to British literary norms can as a rule be
observed in British dialects.


The variety of English spoken in the USA has received the name of
American English. The term variant or variety appears most appropriate
for several reasons. American English cannot be called a dialect
although it is a regional variety, because it has a literary normalized
form called Standard American, whereas by definition given above a
dialect has no literary form. Neither is it a separate language, as
some American authors, like H. L. Mencken, claimed, because it has
neither grammar nor vocabulary of its own. From the lexical point of
view one shall have to deal only with a heterogeneous set of

An Americanism may be defined as a word or a set expression peculiar to
the English language as spoken in the USA. E.g. cookie 'a biscuit';
frame house 'a house consisting of a skeleton of timber, with boards or
shingles laid on'; frame-up 'a staged or preconcerted law case'; guess
'think'; store 'shop'.

A general and comprehensive description of the American variant is given
in Professor Shweitzer's monograph. An important aspect of his treatment
is the distinction made between americanisms belonging to the literary
norm and those existing in low colloquial and slang. The difference
between the American and British literary norm is not systematic.

The American variant of the English language differs from British
English in pronunciation, some minor features of grammar, but chiefly in
vocabulary, and this paragraph will deal with the latter.1 Our treatment
will be mainly diachronic.

Speaking about the historic causes of these deviations it is necessary
to mention that American English is based on the language imported to
the new continent at the time of the first settlements, that is on the
English of the 17th century. The first colonies were founded in 1607, so
that the first colonizers were contemporaries of Shakespeare, Spenser
and Milton. Words which have died out in Britain, or changed their
meaning may survive in the USA. Thus, I guess was used by Chaucer for I
think. For more than three centuries the American vocabulary developed
more or less independently of the British stock and, was influenced by
the new surroundings. The early Americans had to coin words for the
unfamiliar fauna and flora. Hence bull-frog 'a large frog', moose (the
American elk), oppossum, raccoon (an American animal related to the
bears), for animals; and corn, hickory, etc. for plants. They also had
to find names for the new conditions of economic life: back-country
'districts not yet thickly populated', back-settlement, backwoods 'the
forest beyond the cleared country', backwoodsman 'a dweller in the

The opposition of any two lexical systems among the variants described
is of great linguistic and heuristic value because it furnishes ample
data for observing the influence of extra-linguistic factors upon the
vocabulary. American political vocabulary shows this point very
definitely: absentee voting 'voting by mail', dark horse 'a candidate
nominated unexpectedly and not known to his voters', to gerrymander 'to
arrange and falsify the electoral process to produce a favorable result
in the interests of a particular party or candidate', all-outer 'an
adept of decisive measures'.

Many of the foreign elements borrowed into American English from the
Indian dialects or from Spanish penetrated very soon not only into
British English but also into several other languages, Russian not
excluded, and so became international. They are: canoe, moccasin, squaw,
tomahawk, wigwam, etc. and translation loans: pipe of peace, pale-face
and the. like, taken from Indian languages. The Spanish borrowings like
cafeteria, mustang, ranch, sombrero, etc. are very familiar to the
speakers of many European languages. It is only by force of habit that
linguists still include these words among the specific features of
American English.

As to the toponyms, for instance, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, Utah
(all names of Indian tribes), or other names of towns, rivers and states
named by Indian words, it must be borne in mind that in all countries of
the world towns, rivers and the like show in their names traces of the
earlier inhabitants of the land in question.

Another big group of peculiarities as compared with the English of Great
Britain is caused by some specific features of pronunciation, stress or
spelling standards, such as [ae] for in ask, dance, path, etc., or Ie]
for [ei] in made, day and some other.

The American spelling is in some respects simpler than its British
counterpart, in other respects just different. The suffix -our is
spelled -or, so that armor and humor are the American variants of armour
and humour. Altho stands for although and thru for through. The table
below illustrates some of the other differences but it is by no means
exhaustive. For a more complete treatment the reader is referred to the
monograph by A. D. Schweitzer:

British spelling American spelling

offence offense

cosy cozy

practice practise

thralldom thralldom

jewellery jewelery

traveling traveling

In the course of time with the development of the modern means of
communication the lexical differences between the two variants show a
tendency to decrease. Americanisms penetrate into Standard English and
Britishisms come to be widely used in American speech. Americanisms
mentioned as specific in manuals issued a few decades ago are now used
on both sides of the Atlantic or substituted by terms formerly
considered as specifically British. It was, for instance, customary to
contrast the English word autumn with the American fall. In reality both
words are used in both countries, only autumn is somewhat more elevated,
while in England the word fall is now rare in literary use, though found
in some dialects and surviving in set expressions: spring and fall, the
fall of the year are still in fairly common use.

Cinema and TV are probably the most important channels for the
passage of Americanisms into the language of Britain and other languages
as well: the Germans adopted the word teenager and the French speak of
Vautomatisation. The influence of American publicity is also a vehicle
of Americanisms. This is how the British term wireless is replaced by
the Americanism radio. The jargon of American film-advertising makes its
way into British usage; i.e. of all time (in "the greatest film of all
time"). The phrase is now firmly established as standard vocabulary and
applied to subjects other than films.

The personal visits of writers and scholars to the USA and all forms of
other personal contacts bring back Americanisms.

The existing cases of difference between the two variants, are
conveniently classified into:

1) Cases where there are no equivalents in British English: drive-in a
cinema where you can see the film without getting out of your car' or 'a
shop where motorists buy things staying in the car'; dude ranch 'a sham
ranch used as a summer residence for holiday-makers from the cities'.
The noun dude was originally a contemptuous nickname given by the
inhabitants of the Western states to those of the Eastern states. Now
there is no contempt intended in the word dude. It simply means 'a
person who pays his way on a far ranch or camp'.

2) Cases where different words are used for the same denotatum, such as
can, candy, mailbox, movies, suspenders, truck in the USA and tin,
sweets, pillar-box (or letter-box), pictures or flicks, braces and lorry
in England.

3) Cases where the semantic structure of a partially equivalent word is
different. The word pavement, for example, means in the first place
'covering of the street or the floor and the like made of asphalt,
stones or some other material'. The derived meaning is in England 'the
footway at the side of the road'. The Americans use the noun sidewalk
for this, while pavement with them means 'the roadway'.

4) Cases where otherwise equivalent words are different in distribution.
The verb ride in Standard English is mostly combined with such nouns as
a horse, a bicycle, more seldom they say to ride on a bus. In American
English combinations like a ride on the train to ride in a boat are
.quite usual.

5) It sometimes happens that the same word is used in American English
with some difference in emotional and stylistic colouring. Nasty, for
example, is a much milder expression of disapproval in England than in
the States, where it was even considered obscene in the 19th century.
Politician in England means 'someone in polities', and is derogatory in
the USA. Professor Shweitzer, pays special attention to phenomena
differing in social norms of usage. E.g. balance in its lexico-semantic
variant 'the remainder of anything' is substandard in British English
and quite literary in America.

6) Last but not least, there may be a marked difference in frequency
characteristics. Thus, time-table which occurs in American English very
rarely, yielded its place to schedule.

This question of different frequency distribution is also of paramount
importance if we wish to investigate the morphological peculiarities of
the American variant. Practically speaking the same patterns and means
of word-formation are used in coining neologisms in both variants. Only
the frequency observed in both cases may be different. Some of the
suffixes more frequently used in American English are: -ее (draftee n 'a
young man about to be enlisted'), -ette - tambourmajorette 'one of the
girl drummers in front of a procession'), -dom and -ster, as in roadster
'motor-car for long journeys by road' or gangsterdom.

American slang uses alongside the traditional ones also a few specific
models, such as verb stem-1- -er+adverb stem +--er: e.g. opener-upper
'the first item on the programme' and winder-upper 'the last item',
respectively. It also possesses some specific affixes and semi-affixes
not used in literary Colloquial: -o, -eroo, -aroo, -sie/sy, as in coppo
'policeman', fatso 'a fat man', bossaroo 'boss', chapsie 'fellow'.

The trend to shorten words and to use initial abbreviations is even more
pronounced than in the British variant. New coinages are incessantly
introduced in advertisements, in the press, in everyday conversation;
soon they fade out and are replaced by the newest creations. Ring
Lardner, very popular in the 30's, makes one of his characters, a
hospital nurse, repeatedly use two enigmatic abbreviations: G.F. and P.
F.; at last the patient asks her to clear the mystery.

"What about Roy Stewart?" asked the man in bed.

"Oh, he's the fella I was telling you about," said Miss Lyons. "He's my
G. F B. F"

"Maybe I'm a D.F. not to know, but would yoa tell me what a B.F. and
G.F. are?"

"Well, you are dumb, aren't you?" said Miss Lyons. "A G.F., that's a
girl friend, and a B.F. is a boy friend. I thought everybody knew that"

The phrases boy friend and girl friend, now widely used everywhere,
originated in the USA. So it is an Americanism in the wider meaning of
the term, i.e. an Americanism "by right of birth", whereas in the above
definition it was defined Americanism synchronically as lexical units
peculiar to the English language as spoken in the USA. Particularly
common in American English are verbs with the hanging postpositive. They
say that in Hollywood you never meet a man: you meet up with him, you do
not study a subject but study up on it. In British English similar
constructions serve to add a new meaning.

With words possessing several structural variants it may happen that
some are more frequent in one country and the others in another. Thus,
amid and toward, for example, are more often used in the States and
amidst and towards in Great Britain.

A well-known humourist G. Mikes goes as far as to say: "It was decided
almost two hundred years ago that English should be the language spoken
in the United States. It is not known, however, why this decision has
not been carried out." In his book "How to Scrape Skies" he gives
numerous examples to illustrate this proposition: "You must be extremely
careful concerning the names of certain articles. If you ask for
suspenders in a man's shop, you receive a pair of braces, if you ask for
a pair of pants, you receive a pair of trousers and should you ask for a
pair of braces, you receive a queer look. It has to be mentioned that
although a lift is called an elevator in the United States, when
hitch-hiking, you do not ask for an elevator, you ask for a lift.

There is some confusion about the word flat. A flat in America is called
an apartment; what they call a flat is a puncture in your tyre (or as
they spell it, tire). Consequently the notice: flats fixed does not
indicate an estate agent where they are going to fix you up with a flat,
but a garage where they are equipped to mend a puncture." Disputing the
common statement that there is no such thing as the American nation, he
says: "They do indeed exist. They have produced the American
constitution, the American way of life, the comic strips in their
newspapers: .they have their national game, baseball —which is cricket
played with a strong American accent — and they have a national
language, entirely their own."

This is of course an exaggeration, but a very significant one. It
confirms the fact that there is a difference between the two variants to
be reckoned with. Although not sufficiently great to warrant American
English the status of an independent language, it is considerable enough
to make a mixture of variants sound unnatural, so that students of
English should be warned against this danger.

Local Dialects in the USA

The English language in the USA is characterized by relative uniformity
throughout the country. One can travel three thousand miles without
encountering any but the slightest dialect differences. Nevertheless,
regional variations in speech undoubtedly exist and they have been
observed and recorded by a number of investigators. The following three
major belts of dialects have so far been identified, each with its own
characteristic features: Northern, Midland and Southern, Midland being
in turn divided into North Midland and South Midland.


The American linguist F. Emerson maintains that American English had not
had time to break up into widely diverse dialects and he believes that
in the course of time the American dialects might finally become nearly
as distinct as the dialects in Britain. He is certainly greatly
mistaken. In modern times dialect divergence cannot increase. On the
contrary, in the United States, as elsewhere, the national language is
tending to wipe out the dialect distinctions and to become still more

Comparison of the dialect differences in the British Isles and in the
USA reveals that not only are they less numerous and far less marked in
the USA, but that the very nature of the local distinctions is
different. What is usually known as American dialects is closer in
nature to regional variants of the literary language. The problem of
discriminating between literary and dialect speech patterns in the USA
is much more complicated than in Britain. Many American linguists point
out that American English differs from British English in having no one
locality whose speech patterns have come to be recognized as the model
for the rest of the country.


It should of course be noted that the American English is not the only
existing variant. There are several other variants where difference from
the British standard is normalized. Besides the Irish and Scottish
variants that have been mentioned in the preceding paragraph, there are
Australian English, Canadian English, Indian English. Each of these has
developed a literature of its own, and is characterized by peculiarities
in phonetics, spelling, grammar and vocabulary. Canadian English is
influenced both by British and American English but it also has some
specific features of its own. Specifically Canadian words are called
Canadianisms. They are not very frequent outside Canada, except shack 'a
hut' and to fathom out 'to explain'.

The vocabulary of all the variants is characterized by a high percentage
of borrowings from the language of the people who inhabited the land
before the English colonizers came. Many of them denote some specific
realia of the new country: local animals, plants or weather conditions,
new social relations, new trades and conditions of labour. The local
words for new not ions penetrate into the English language and later on
may become international, if they are of sufficient interest and
importance for people speaking other languages. The term international w
о г d s is used to denote words borrowed from one language into several
others simultaneously or at short intervals one after another.
International words coming through the English of India are for
instance: bungalow n, jute n, khaki adj, mango n, nabob n, pyjamas,
sahib, sari.

Similar examples, though perhaps fewer in number, such as boomerang,
dingo, kangaroo are all adopted into the English language through its
Australian variant. They denote the new phenomena found by English
immigrants on the new continent. A high percentage of words borrowed
from the native inhabitants of Australia will be noticed in the sonorous
Australian place names.

Otherwise an ample use was made of English lexical material. An intense
development of cattle breeding in new conditions necessitated the
creation of an adequate terminology. It is natural therefore that nouns
like stock, bullock or land find a new life on Australian soil: stockman
'herdsman', stockyard, stock-keeper 'the owner of the cattle'; bullock v
means 'to work hard', bullocky dray is a dray driven by bullocks; an
inlander is a stock-keeper driving his stock from one pasture to
another, overland v is 'to drive cattle over long distances'; to punch a
cow 'to conduct a team of oxen'; a puncher 'the man who conducts a team
of oxen'; tucker-bag 'the bag with provision'.

The differences described in the present chapter do not undermine our
understanding of the English vocabulary as a balanced system. It has
been noticed by a number of linguists that the British attitude to this
phenomenon is somewhat peculiar. When anyone other than an Englishman
uses English, the natives of Great Britain, often half-consciously,
perhaps, feel that they have a special right to criticize his usage
because it is "their" language. It is, however, unreasonable with
respect to people in the Vfiited States, Canada, Australia and some
other areas for whom English is their mother-tongue. Those who think
that the Americans must look to the British for a standard are wrong
and, vice versa, it is not for the American to pretend that English in
Great Britain is inferior to the English he speaks. At present there is
no single "correct" English and the American, Canadian and Australian
English have developed standards of their own.


I. English is the national language of England proper, the USA,
Australia and some provinces of Canada. It was also at different times
imposed on the inhabitants of the former and present British colonies
and. protectorates as well as other Britain- and US-dominated
territories, where the population has always stuck to its own mother

II. British English, American English and Australian English are
variants of the same language, because they serve all spheres of verbal
communication. Their structural pecularities, especially morphology,
syntax and word-formation, as well as their word-stock and phonetic
system are essentially the same. American and Australian standards are
slight modifications of the norms accepted in the British Isles. The
status of Canadian English 'has not yet been established.

III. The main lexical differences between the variants are caused by the
lack of equivalent lexical units in one of them, divergences in the
semantic structures of polysemantic words and peculiarities of usage of
some words on different territories.





raced back to Old English dialects. Numerous and distinct, they are
characterized by phonemic and structural peculiarities. The local
dialects are being gradually replaced by regional variants of the
literary language, i. e. by a literary standard with a proportion of
local dialect features.

V. The so-called local dialects in the British Isles and in the USA are
used only by the rural population and only for the purposes of oral
communication. In both variants local distinctions are more marked in
pronunciation, less conspicuous in vocabulary and insignificant in

VI. Local variations in the USA are relatively small. What is called by
tradition American dialects is closer in nature to regional variants of
the national literary language.

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