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American English. Топик по английскому

American English is one of the ways of speaking English. In the formation of American English the English-speaking colonists were brought into contact with different peoples who spoke different languages. Many words, derived from these languages, were added to the 17th-century form of English.

First in importance come the words derived from the speech of various Indian tribes. This was caused by the necessity of talking about new things, operations and ideas. So, a lot of new words came from the Indians, such as canoe, wigwam, toboggan, tomahawk, squash.

Besides the various Indian influences, American English reflects the other non-English cultures which colonists met in their conquest of the continent. In the westward expansion of their territory, the English colonists soon came into contact with French settlements in the Middle West. From the French a considerable number of words were derived, such as rapid, prairies and creek.

More substantial borrowings were made from the Spanish colonization and culture as the English colonists moved southward and westward towards the Pacific Ocean. Spanish words in American English are mulatto, canyon, ranch, sombrero, poncho and cafeteria.

The Dutch settlers of New York contributed to American English the following words: boss, cookie, Santa Claus. Finally, there are words of German origin in English, such as sauerkraut, semester, seminar, noodles.

Besides, the first English colonists discovered plants, animals and things that were new to them and gave those things names, for example, turkey. So, the English language was influenced by other languages and new environment.

Since that time American English and British English have developed in different ways, that's why American English retains some old forms of British English, for example, get — got — gotten.

When Americans obtained independence, they decided to create a new language, so at the turn of the 18th century Webster introduced a language reform in spelling and in pronunciation. The main changes in spelling were:

  • the use of -or instead of -our: labor, honor, color, harbor;
  • the use of -er instead of -re: center, theater, meter;
    • the use of s instead of c: defense, offense, license. There is also some difference in pronunciation:
      • words ending in -ary and -ory have a stress on the next to last syllable: secretary, dictionary, laboratory;
  • Americans often pronounce [r] in all positions: car, here;
    • they pronounce [a] instead of[a:]: can't, dance, answer, ask. There are a lot of cases in which British and American people

continue to use different words to mean the same thing. These words are still in constant use and have retained their national character. Here are a few examples: railway (Br) — railroad (Am); carriage (Br) — car (Am); lorry (Br) — truck (Am); petrol (Br) — gasoline (Am); gear box (Br) — transmission (Am); lift (Br) — elevator (Am); post (Br) — mail (Am); underground (Br) — subway (Am); trunk call (Br) — long-distance call (Am); barrister (Br) — lawyer (Am); vest (Br) — undershirt (Am); waistcoat (Br) — vest (Am); autumn (Br) — fall (Am); bill (Br) — check (Am); pavement (Br) — sidewalk (Am); chemist's (Br) — drug store (Am).

Within American English there are three major dialects: New England (in 6 states), Southern dialect (Virginia and South Carolina) and General American (in the western part of the country).

Americans are constantly inventing new words, many of which have found a permanent place first in American and then in British

usage, for example, to televize, to park, know-how.

 

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