Standard EnglishStandard English
Standard English (often shortened to S.E. within linguistic circles) refers
to whatever form of the English language is accepted as a national norm in an
Anglophone country. It encompasses grammar, vocabulary, and spelling. In the
British Isles, particularly in England and Wales, it is often associated with: the
"Received Pronunciation" accent (there are several variants of the accent) and
UKSE (United Kingdom Standard English), which refers to grammar and
vocabulary. In the United States it is generally associated with the "General
American" accent, and in Australia with General Australian. Unlike the case of
other standard languages, however, there is no official or central regulating body
Standard English is recognized as not being a class or regional dialect. It is
an educated form of English used for official purposes such as administration,
education and information. It has its own specific grammar and vocabulary. We
distinguish the British standard (R.P) and the American standard or (G.A). There
are differences between these two standards mainly in the field of lexis
(vocabulary) and to a limited extent also in grammar and spelling.
British and American English differencesBritish and American English differences
• Unlike what happened to the Portuguese, which over 4 centuries
developed into two substantially different dialects in Portugal and in
Brazil, the differences between the American and British dialects are
not that significant. The main difference between the British and
American English is when it comes to pronunciation. We can also find
some differences in vocabulary, and minor differences in grammar
and spelling. It is difficult, however, to reach definitive conclusions
about the differences because the issue is more complex than it
seems. The classification itself "American" and "British" is inexact.
Considering that within each one of them we can identify dialects
with differences almost as sharp as those observed among
themselves. That means, we would have to conceptualize British and
American English more precisely, which certainly would exclude
other dialects, and which, in turn, would threaten the legitimacy of
such a study. One should also consider that the more formal the style
of the language and the more international the topic is, the greater
the similarity between the British and American English.
British and AmericanBritish and American PronuciationPronuciation DifferencesDifferences
• In British English, many vowels have different sounds and are
usually not nasalized.
- down, sound, found
• In british English the “a” sound is pronounced at the back of the
mouth. While in America English it's pronounced at the front of the
- class, grass, can’t, fast, ask
• Stressed vowels are usually longer in American English. In packet,
for example, the "a" is longer.
• In British English the /r/ sound is pronounced only before a vowel
(Ex. red, real, bedroom). In all other cases the /r/ is silent, sounding
more similar to the sound "ah"
- word, heart, car, over
• In American English the /r/ sound is always pronounced wherever it
appears in a word.
. In American English the "t" between vowels is pronounced as
a soft "d" (/d/), so that writer and rider have similar sound.
British English speakers usually pronounce the "t" as /t/.
- matter, better, fatter
• In british English the “o” sound is pronounced by rounding
- pot, hot, knot, god
• The “aw” sound
- walk, talk, awkward
British and AmericanBritish and American vocabularyvocabulary differencesdifferences
Busy (phone line)
Block of flats
British and AmericanBritish and American GrammarGrammar DifferencesDifferences
• In sentences which talk about an action in the past that has anIn sentences which talk about an action in the past that has an
effect in the present:effect in the present:
- Jenny feels ill. She ate too much.
- Jenny feels ill. She's eaten too much.
- I can't find my keys. Did you see them anywhere?
- I can't find my keys. Have you seen them anywhere?
• In sentences which contain the words already, just or yet:In sentences which contain the words already, just or yet:
- Are they going to the show tonight?
- No. They already saw it.
- Are they going to the show tonight?
- No. They've already seen it.
- Is Samantha here?
- No, she just left.
- Is Samantha here?
- No, she has just left
• In British English needn't is often used instead of don't needIn British English needn't is often used instead of don't need
- You needn’t go to school today
- You don’t need to go to school today
- Need you go to school today?
- Yes, I need / No, I needn’t
- Do you need to go to school today?
- Yes, I do / No, I don’t
• Talknig about possessionTalknig about possession
- Have you got a big house?
- Yes, I have / No, I haven’t
- Do you have a big house
- Yes, I do / No, I don’t
Which is better?
• An important point to make is that different doesn’t
mean wrong. Comments such as “American English is
inferior to British English”, or “American English is
better than British English” have no solid basis other
than the speaker’s opinion. The truth is that no
language or regional variety of language is naturally
better or worse than another. They are just different.
Students will often have very firm beliefs on which
English they think is better/easier to
understand/clearer etc. While it may be true for that
particular individual, there is no evidence to suggest
that one variety is easier to learn or understand than
the other and there are no scientific criteria to
validate the superiority of one variety over another.
World Englishes refers to the emergence of localized or
indigenized varieties of English, especially varieties that have
developed in nations colonized by Great Britain or influenced by
the United States. World Englishes consist of varieties of English
used in diverse sociolinguistic contexts globally, and how
sociolinguistic histories, multicultural backgrounds and contexts
of function influence the use of colonial English in different
regions of the world.
The issue of World Englishes was first raised in 1978 to
examine concepts of regional Englishes globally. Pragmatic factors
such as appropriateness, comprehensibility and interpretability
justified the use of English as an international and intra-national
language. In 1988, at a
Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL)
conference in Honolulu, Hawaii, the International Committee of
the Study of World Englishes (ICWE) was formed.[In 1992, the
ICWE formally launched the International Association for World
Englishes (IAWE) at a conference of "World Englishes Today", at
the University of Illinois, USA.
Currently, there are approximately 75 territories where
English is spoken either as a first language (L1) or as an unofficial
or institutionalized second language (L2) in fields such as
government, law and education. It is difficult to establish the
total number of Englishes in the world, as new varieties of
English are constantly being developed and discovered.
Global spread of EnglishGlobal spread of English
• The First dispersal: English is transported to the ‘new world’The First dispersal: English is transported to the ‘new world’
The first diaspora involved relatively large-scale
migrations of around 25,000 mother-tongue English speakers from
England, Scotland and Ireland predominantly to North America,
South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. Over time, their own
English dialects developed into modern American, South African
and Australasia Englishes. In contrast to the English of Great Britain,
the varieties spoken in modern North America, South Africa and
Australasia have been modified in response to the changed and
changing sociolinguistic contexts of the migrants, for example being
in contact with indigenous Indian, Khoisan, Aboriginal or Maori
populations in the colonies.
• The Second dispersal: English is transported to Asia and Africa:The Second dispersal: English is transported to Asia and Africa:
The second diaspora was the result of the colonisation of
Asia and Africa, which led to the development of ‘New Englishes’,
the second-language varieties of English. In colonial Africa, the
history of English is distinct between West and East Africa.
English in West Africa began due to the slave trade. English soon
gained official status in Gambia, Sierra Leone, Ghana, Nigeria and
Cameroon, and some of the pidgin and creoles which developed
from English contact, including Krio (Sierra Leone) and
Cameroon Pidgin, have large numbers of speakers now.
As for East Africa, extensive British settlements were
established in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia and
Zimbabwe, where English became a crucial language of the
government, education and the law. From the early 1960s, the six
countries achieved independence in succession; but English
remained the official language and had large numbers of second
language speakers in Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Malawi
(along with Chewa).
English was formally introduced to the sub-continent of
South Asia (India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal and
Bhutan) during the second half of the eighteenth century. In
India, English was given status through the implementation of
Macaulay ‘Minute’ of 1835, which proposed the introduction of
an English educational system in India. Over time, the process of
‘Indianisation’ led to the development of a distinctive national
character of English in India.
British influence in South-East Asia and the South Pacific
began in the late eighteenth century, involving primarily the
territories of Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong.
Papua New Guinea, also a British protectorate, exemplified the
English-based pidgin - Tok Pisin. Nowadays, English is also learnt
in other countries in neighbouring areas, most notably in
Taiwan, Japan and Korea, with the latter two having begun to
consider the possibility of making English their official second
Classification of Englishes
• The spread of English around the world is often
discussed in terms of three distinct groups of users,
where English is used respectively as:
• a native language (ENL); the primary language of the
majority population of a country, such as in the
United States, the United Kingdom and Australia.
• a second language (ESL); an additional language for
intranational as well as international communication
in communities that are multilingual, such as in India,
Nigeria, and Singapore.
• A foreign language (EFL); used almost exclusively for
international communication, such as in Japan and