May 29, 2017

American English

While writing for an international language blog, I often received comments from readers who hold the view that American English is a corrupt form of British English.

I became accustomed to such remarks as these:

I do not consider American English a real English language.

Americans do not speak or write English as such. They speak a distinct dialect, which really should be termed American, as it is far removed from English.

English spoken by Americans is a corrupted form of the language.

Such remarks stem from ignorance.

The English language developed more than a thousand years ago in a specific little area in Europe. What today is called English is a collection of dialects descended from the original language, but no more like it than modern human beings are like prehistoric cave dwellers.

“Standard British English” is as much a dialect as “Standard American English”and no more “uncorrupted” that any of the numerous forms of English spoken in the British Isles.

Every language is made up of dialects, one or two of which become known as the “standard” form of the language.

The standard language is used for purposes of education, government, and business. Educated speakers learn a standard dialect in addition to whatever dialect or dialects they speak at home.

The American and British standards are in fact very close. Like all dialects, they differ in pronunciation, spelling, vocabulary, and grammar. They do not differ from one another as much as the English spoken in Ireland or in Singapore differs from them.

No form of spoken English is “better” than another, but a standard form of English is more useful than less widely understood dialects because it opens more doors socially and economically.

The language instruction on this site conforms to the conventions of Standard American English.