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The main variants of the english language
General Characteristics of the English Language in Different Parts of
the English-Speaking World
It is natural that the English language is not used with uniformity in
the British Isles and in Australia, in the USA and -in New Zealand, in
Canada and in India, etc. The English language also as some
peculiarities in Wales, Scotland, in other parts of the British Isles
and America. Is the nature of these varieties the same?
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 by their own literary
norms. Dialects are varieties 01 a language used as a means of oral
communication in small localities, they are set off (more or less
sharply) from other varieties by some dlsitncttve teatufes of
pronunciation, grammar and vocabulary.
Close inspection of the varieties mentioned above reveals that they are
essentially different in character. It is not difficult to establish
that the varieties spoken in small areas are local dialects. The status
of the other varieties is more difficult to establish.
It is over half a century already that the nature of the two main
variants of the English language, British and American (Br and AE) has
been discussed. Some American linguists, H. L. Mencken for one, speak of
two separate languages with a steady flood of linguistic influence first
(up to about 1914) from Britain to America, and since then from America
to the British Isles. They even proclaim that the American influence on
British English is so powerful that there will come a time when the
American standard will be established in Britain.1 Other linguists
regard the language of the USA as a dialect of English.
Still more questionable is the position of Australian English (AuE) and
Canadian English (CnE).
The differences between the English language as spoken in Britain, the
USA, Australia and Canada are immediately noticeable уд the field of
phonetics. However these distinctions are confined to the
articulatory-acoustics 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 variations in vocabulary, to be considered below, are not very
numerous. Most of them are divergences in the semantic structure of
words and in their usage.
The dissimilarities in grammar like AE gotten, proven for BE got, proved
are scarce. For the most part these dissimilarities consist in the
preference of this or that grammatical category or form to some others.
For example, the preference of Past Indefinite to Present Perfect, the
formation of the Future Tense with will as the only auxiliary verb for
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