Jan 18th , 2011
When performing an online grammar check, it is important to note if the language you are using is American or British English. Believe it or not, there is a subtle but significant difference between them.
According to Wikipedia, “Received Pronunciation (RP), also called the Queen’s (or King’s) English, Oxford English, or BBC English, is the accent of Standard English in England, with a relationship to regional accents similar to the relationship in other European languages between their standard varieties and their regional forms.”
Wikipedia defines American English as “a set of dialects of the English language used mostly in the United States,” and notes that around two-thirds of the people in the world that speak English as native language live in the United States – making the American dialect the more common of the two.
As a former British colony, the United States inherited English in the same way that Latin America inherited Spanish and Portuguese. However, over the years, American and British English have diverged in accent, spelling and vocabulary. A student of one will likely understand the other without too much additional effort, but should be aware of the differences that exist in literature, slang, pronunciation, letter writing and so on.
In the United States, students are generally taught American English, with little or no reference to the English spoken in the United Kingdom. Students of English as a Second Language (ESL), as well as native-speaking high school students in English class, may have only minimal knowledge of the differences between the two dialects.
English students in the US are taught the language using a variety of tools, including listening exercises, speaking and interviewing techniques and English games. One such game is called a “spelling bee.” Also used to teach grade school children how to spell, spelling bees are contests in which participants compete over who can spell the greatest number of words correctly. As the English language is full of exceptions, and spelling is often not done phonetically, learning how to spell correctly is a key part of growing comfortable with the language for non-native speakers.
Even for native speakers, the differences between American and British English can be a source of amusement. Anyone who has ever witnessed a social encounter between Americans and Brits has probably seen first hand how humorous it can be for them to compare words, especially slang words, and phrases across the cultural divide. However, English students can take comfort in the fact that the differences between the two are not really that great.