Difference Between the Different Types of English that Exist
If you think that simply updating your website to English is sufficient for branching out and localizing, your job isn’t done yet.
English as we know it, can be used to converse in a region where it is not the primary language. However, when talking about areas such as the UK, US, Canada and Australia where English is the language of the natives, a few aspects are still worthy of consideration.
Factors to keep in mind with your content are colloquial idioms, vocabulary, date & time and measurements. Failure to pay heed to these factors often reflects unprofessionalism and communicates insensitivity and a lack of effort to the native population. It has often created a make-or-break situation for many corporations in the past.
To understand why such differences exist, it is crucial to know the history of the divergence.
The British actually introduced the language to the Americas when they reached these lands by sea between the 16th and 17th centuries. At that time, spelling had not yet been standardised. It took the writing of the first dictionaries to set in stone how these words appeared. In the UK, the dictionary was compiled by London-based scholars. Meanwhile, in the United States, the lexicographer was a man named Noah Webster. Allegedly, he changed how the words were spelled to make the American version different from the British as a way of showing cultural independence from its mother country.
Australian English began to diverge from British English soon after the foundation of the Colony of New South Wales in 1788. The settlement was intended mainly as a penal colony. The British convicts sent to Australia were mostly people from large English cities, such as Cockneys from London. Australian English also bears resemblance to New Zealand English due to its geographical proximity.
Even across Great Britain, the English language varies in dialects and sub dialects due to historical, geographical and cultural reasons, the best example being the Hiberno-English spoken in Ireland or the famous Cockney accent of the English countryside.
Quite naturally, there are multiple varieties of English which are spoken across the world. Let’s take a look at a few popular ones:
The oldest version of English, it has more than 60 million natives speaking it. British English is primarily spoken across the UK and Europe.
Having the largest native speakers of over 255 million, it is a widely spoken language across the states.
It is a common mistake to believe that English in Canada is very similar to American English. However, Canadian English is actually closer to British English, while also containing a few aspects of Canadian originality.
This dialect was founded in 1788 and is widely spoken in Australia.
There are other varieties of English as well, such as Indian English, Philippine, Ugandan and much more.
What are a few aspects to be considered when we talk about the differentiation of the languages?
- Vocabulary- As an example, there are multiple words which are used differently when we talk about American and British language, such as the front of the car can be a hood or a bonnet. Americans go on a vacation whereas Britishers go on holidays.
- Spelling- This is one of the factors which is important to understand while localizing your app or website. Common differences between US and British English include using a ‘z’ instead of an ‘s’ in many words ending ‘ize’, and dropping the ‘u’ in words such as ‘colour’ and ‘honour’. Australian English spelling tends to be closer to British English, keeping the ‘ou’ in the same examples as above, and Canadian is largely closer to US, using a ‘z’ in place of ‘s’ in words such as analyze and realize.
- Date, Time and Place- Difference in using the words can be ‘five-o-five’ or ‘five past five’ and a known difference in date is, if the month or the day comes first while writing in numbers. Furthermore, in British English, ‘at’ is the preposition in relation to time and place. However, in American English, ‘on’ is used instead of the former and ‘in’ for the latter
- Grammar- there are certain grammar differences between British and American English. For instance, in American English, collective nouns are considered singular (e.g. The team is playing). In contrast, collective nouns can be either singular or plural in British English, although the plural form is most often used (e.g. The team are playing).
- Speech style- The British are also more likely to use formal speech, such as ‘shall’, whereas Americans favour the more informal ‘will’ or ‘should’.
In conclusion, while this information may seem daunting, once properly researched, it is easy to understand, as all variations are governed by the rules of language. Thus, getting a hold of the accent and writing of each region will not be a cumbersome task.
As long as you are certain to make your content apt for the target audience, and have the drive for the same, it is all that is needed to master the domain of linguistics and conquer it.
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