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BRITISH AND AMERICAN ENGLISH




British and American English are two main variants of English. Besides them there are : Canadian, Australian, Indian, New Zealand and other variants. They have some peculiarities in pronunciation, grammar and vocabulary, but they are easily used for communication between people living in these countries. As far as the American English is concerned, some scientists /H.N. Menken, for example/ tried to prove that there is a separate American language. In 1919 H.N. Menken published a book called «The American Language». But most scientists, American ones including, criticized his point of view because differences between the two variants are not systematic.

American English begins its history at the beginning of the 17-th century when first English-speaking settlers began to settle on the Atlantic coast of the American continent. The language which they brought from England was the language spoken in England during the reign of Elizabeth the First.

In the earliest period the task of Englishmen was to find names for places, animals, plants, customs which they came across on the American continent. They took some of names from languages spoken by the local population - Indians, such as :»chipmuck»/an American squirrel/, «igloo» /Escimo dome-shaped hut/, «skunk» / a black and white striped animal with a bushy tail/, «squaw» / an Indian woman/, »wigwam» /an American Indian tent made of skins and bark/ etc.

Besides Englishmen, settlers from other countries came to America, and English-speaking settlers mixed with them and borrowed some words from their languages, e.g. from French the words «bureau»/a writing desk/, «cache» /a hiding place for treasure, provision/, «depot’/ a store-house/, «pumpkin»/a plant bearing large edible fruit/. From Spanish such words as: »adobe» / unburnt sun-dried brick/, »bananza» /prosperity/, «cockroach» /a beetle-like insect/, «lasso» / a noosed rope for catching cattle/ were borrowed.

Present-day New York stems from the Dutch colony New Amsterdam, and Dutch also influenced English. Such words as: «boss», «dope», «sleigh» were borrowed .

The second period of American English history begins in the 19-th century. Immigrants continued to come from Europe to America. When large groups of immigrants from the same country came to America some of their words were borrowed into English. Italians brought with them a style of cooking which became widely spread and such words as: «pizza», «spaghetti» came into English. From the great number of German-speaking settlers the following words were borrowed into English: «delicatessen», «lager», «hamburger», «noodle», «schnitzel» and many others.

During the second period of American English history there appeared quite a number of words and word-groups which were formed in the language due to the new poitical system, liberation of America from the British colonialism, its independence. The following lexical units appeared due to these events: the United States of America , assembly, caucus, congress, Senate, congressman, President, senator, precinct, Vice-President and many others. Besides these political terms many other words were coined in American English in the 19-th century: to antagonize, to demoralize, influential, department store, telegram, telephone and many others.

There are some differences between British and American English in the usage of prepositions, such as prepositions with dates, days of the week BE requres «on» / I start my holiday on Friday/, in American English there is no preposition / I start my vacation Friday/. In Be we use «by day», «by night»/»at night», in AE the corresponding forms are «days» and «nights». In BE we say «at home» , in AE - «home» is used. In BE we say «a quarter to five», in AE «a quarter of five». In BE we say «in the street», in AE - «on the street». In BE we say «to chat to somebody», in AE «to chat with somebody». In BE we say «different to something», in AE - «different from someting».

There are also units of vocabulary which are different while denoting the same notions, e.g. BE - «trousers», AE -«pants»; in BE «pants» are «трусы» which in AE is «shorts». While in BE «shorts» are outwear. This can lead to misunderstanding. There are some differences in names of places:

BE AE BE AE

passage hall cross-roads intersection

pillar box mail-box the cinema the movies

studio, bed-sitter one-room appartment

flyover overpass zebra crossing Pxing

pavement sidewalk tube, uderground subway

tram streetcar flat apartment

surgery doctor’s office lift elevator

 

Some names of useful objects:

BE AE BE AE

biro ballpoint rubber eraser

tap faucet torch flashlight

parcel package elastic rubber band

carrier bag shopping bag reel of cotton spool of thread

 

Some words connected with food:

BE AE BE AE

tin can sweets candy

sweet biscuit cookie dry biscuit crackers

sweet dessert chips french fries

minced meat ground beef

Some words denoting personal items:

BE AE BE AE

fringe bangs/of hair/ turn- ups cuffs

tights pantyhose mackintosh raincoat

ladder run/in a stocking/ braces suspenders

poloneck turtleneck waistcoat vest

 

Some words denoting people:

BE AE BE AE

barrister, lawyer, staff /university/ faculty

post-graduate graduate chap, fellow guy

caretaker janitor constable patrolman

shopassistant shopperson bobby cop

If we speak about cars there are also some differences:

BE AE BE AE

boot trunk bumpers fenders

a car, an auto, to hire a car to rent a car

Differences in the organization of education lead to different terms. BE «public school» is in fact a private school. It is a fee-paying school not controlled by the local education authorities. AE «public school» is a free local authority school. BE «elementary school» is AE «grade school» BE «secondary school» is AE «high school». In BE « a pupil leaves a secondary school», in AE «a student graduates from a high school» In BE you can graduate from a university or college of education, graduating entails getting a degree.

A British university student takes three years known as the first, the second and the third years. An American student takes four years, known as freshman, sophomore, junior and senior years. While studying a British student takes a main and subsidiary subjects. An American student majors in a subject and also takes electives. A British student specializes in one main subject, with one subsidiary to get his honours degree. An American student earns credits for successfully completing a number of courses in studies, and has to reach the total of 36 credits to receive a degree.

 

ARCHAISMS

Archaisms are words which are no longer used in everyday speech, which have been ousted by their synonyms. Archaisms remain in the language, but they are used as stylistic devices to express solemnity.

Most of these words are lexical archaisms and they are stylistic synonyms of words which ousted them from the neutral style. Some of them are: steed /horse/, slay /kill/, behold /see/, perchance /perhaps/, woe /sorrow/ etc.

Sometimes a lexical archaism begins a new life, getting a new meaning, then the old meaning becomes a semantic archaism, e.g. «fair» in the meaning «beautiful» is a semantic archaism, but in the meaning «blond» it belongs to the neutral style.

Sometimes the root of the word remains and the affix is changed, then the old affix is considered to be a morphemic archaism, e.g. «beautious» /»ous» was substituted by «ful»/, «bepaint» / «be» was dropped/, «darksome» /»some» was dropped/, «oft» / «en» was added/. etc.

 

NEOLOGISMS



At the present moment English is developing very swiftly and there is so called «neology blowup». R. Berchfield who worked at compiling a four-volume supplement to NED says that averagely 800 neologisms appear every year in Modern English. It has also become a language-giver recently, especially with the development of computerization.

New words, as a rule, appear in speech of an individual person who wants to express his idea in some original way. This person is called «originater». New lexical units are primarily used by university teachers, newspaper reporters, by those who are connected with mass media.

Neologisms can develop in three main ways: a lexical unit existing in the language can change its meaning to denote a new object or phenomenon. In such cases we have semantic neologisms, e.g. the word «umbrella» developed the meanings: «авиационное прикрытие», »политическое прикрытие». A new lexical unit can develop in the language to denote an object or phenomenon which already has some lexical unit to denote it. In such cases we have transnomination, e.g. the word «slum» was first substituted by the word «ghetto» then by the word-group «inner town». A new lexical unit can be introduced to denote a new object or phenomenon. In this case we have «a proper neologism», many of them are cases of new terminology.

Here we can point out several semantic groups when we analize the group of neologisms connected with computerization, and here we can mention words used:

a) to denote different types of computers, e.g. PC, super-computer, multi-user, neurocomputer / analogue of a human brain/;

b) to denote parts of computers, e.g. hardware, software, monitor, screen, data, vapourware / experimental samples of computers for exhibition, not for production/;

c) to denote computer languages, e.g. BASIC, Algol FORTRAN etc;

d) to denote notions connected with work on computers, e.g. computerman, computerization, computerize, to troubleshoot, to blitz out / to ruin data in a computer’s memory/.

There are also different types of activities performed with the help of computers, many of them are formed with the help of the morpheme «tele», e.g. to telework, to telecommute / to work at home having a computer which is connected with the enterprise for which one works/. There are also such words as telebanking, telemarketing, teleshopping / when you can perform different operations with the help of your computer without leaving your home, all operations are registered by the computer at your bank/, videobank /computerized telephone which registers all information which is received in your absence/.

In the sphere of lingusitics we have such neologisms as: machine translation, interlingual / an artificial language for machine translation into several languages / and many others.

In the sphere of biometrics we have computerized machines which can recognize characteristic features of people seeking entrance : finger-print scanner / finger prints/, biometric eye-scanner / blood-vessel arrangements in eyes/, voice verification /voice patterns/. These are types of biometric locks. Here we can also mention computerized cards with the help of which we can open the door without a key.

In the sphere of medicine computors are also used and we have the following neologisms: telemonitory unit / a telemonitory system for treating patience at a distance/.

With the development of social activities neologisms appeared as well, e.g. youthquake - волнения среди молодежи, pussy-footer - политик, идущий на компромисы, Euromarket, Eurodollar, Europarliament, Europol etc.

In the modern English society there is a tendency to social stratification, as a result there are neologisms in this sphere as well, e.g. belonger - представитель среднего класса, приверженец консервативных взглядов. To this group we can also refer abbreviations of the type yuppie /young urban professional people/, such as: muppie, gruppie, rumpie, bluppie etc. People belonging to the lowest layer of the society are called survivers, a little bit more prosperous are called sustainers, and those who try to prosper in life and imitate those, they want to belong to, are called emulaters. Those who have prospered but are not belongers are called achievers. All these layers of socety are called VAL /Value and Lifestyles/ .

The rich belong also to jet set that is those who can afford to travel by jet planes all over the world enjoying their life. Sometimes they are called «jet plane travellers».

During Margaret Thatcher’s rule the abbreviation PLU appeared which means «People like us» by which snobbistic circles of society call themselves. Nowadays /since 1989/ PLU was substituted by «one of us».

There are a lot of immigrants now in UK , in connection with which neologisms partial and non-partial were formed /имеющие право жить в стране и его антоним/.

The word-group «welfare mother» was formed to denote a non-working single mother living on benefit.

In connection with criminalization of towns in UK volantary groups of assisting the police were formed where dwellers of the neighbourhood are joined. These groups are called «neighbourhood watch», «home watch». Criminals wear «stocking masks» not to be recognized.

The higher society has neologisms in their speech, such as : dial-a-meal, dial-a-taxi.

In the language of teen-agers there are such words as : Drugs! /OK/, sweat /бег на длинные дистанции/, task /home composition /, brunch etc.

With the development of professional jargons a lot of words ending in «speak» appeared in English, e.g. artspeak, sportspeak, medspeak, education-speak, video-speak, cable-speak etc.

There are different semantic groups of neologisms belonging to everyday life:

a) food e.g. «starter»/ instead of «hors d’oevres»/, macrobiotics / raw vegetables, crude rice/ , longlife milk, clingfilm, microwave stove, consumer electronics, fridge-freezer, hamburgers /beef-, cheese-, fish-, veg- /.

b) clothing, e.g. catsuit /one-piece clinging suit/, slimster , string / miniscule bikini/, hipster / trousers or skirt with the belt on hips/, completenik / a long sweater for trousers/, sweatnik /a long jacket/, pants-skirt, bloomers / lady’s sports trousers/.

c) footwear e.g. winklepickers /shoes with long pointed toes/, thongs /open sandals/, backsters /beech sandals with thick soles/.

d) bags, e.g. bumbag /a small bag worn on the waist/, sling bag /a bag with a long belt/, maitre / a small bag for cosmetics/.

There are also such words as : dangledolly / a dolly-talisman dangling in the car before the windscreen/, boot-sale /selling from the boot of the car/, touch-tone /a telephone with press-button/.

Neologisms can be also classified according to the ways they are formed. They are subdivided into : phonological neologisms, borrowings, semantic neologisms and syntactical neologisms. Syntactical neologisms are divided into morphological /word-building/ and phraseological /forming word-groups/.

Phonological neologisms are formed by combining unique combinations of sounds, they are called artificial, e.g. rah-rah /a short skirt which is worn by girls during parades/, «yeck» /»yuck» which are interjections to express repulsion produced the adjective yucky/ yecky. These are strong neologisms.

Strong neologisms include also phonetic borrowings, such as «perestroika» /Russian/, «solidarnosc» /Polish/, Berufsverbot / German /, dolce vita /Italian/ etc.

Morphological and syntactical neologisms are usually built on patterns existing in the language, therefore they do not belong to the group of strong neologisms.

Among morphological neologisms there are a lot of compound words of different types, such as «free-fall»-»резкое падение курса акций» appeared in 1987 with the stock market crash in October 1987 /on the analogy with free-fall of parachutists, which is the period between jumping and opening the chute/. Here also belong: call-and-recall - вызов на диспансеризацию, bioastronomy -search for life on other planets, rat-out - betrayal in danger , zero-zero (double zero) - ban of longer and shorter range weapon, x-rated /about films terribly vulgar and cruel/, Ameringlish /American English/, tycoonography - a biography of a business tycoon.

There are also abbreviations of different types, such as resto, teen /teenager/, dinky /dual income no kids yet/, ARC /AIDS-related condition, infection with AIDS/, HIV / human immuno-deficiency virus/.

Quite a number of neologisms appear on the analogy with lexical units existing in the language, e.g. snowmobile /automobile/, danceaholic /alcoholic/, airtel /hotel/, cheeseburger /hamburger/, autocade / cavalcade/.

There are many neologisms formed by means of affixation, such as: decompress, to disimprove, overhoused, educationalist, slimster, folknik etc. Phraseological neologisms can be subdivided into phraseological units with transferred meanings, e.g. to buy into/ to become involved/, fudge and dudge /avoidance of definite decisions/, and set non-idiomatic expressions, e.g. electronic virus, Rubic’s cube, retail park, acid rain , boot trade etc.

 

Changes in pronunciation.

In Modern British English there is a tendency to change pronunciation of some sounds and combinations of sounds due to the influence of American English and some other factors. These changes are most noticeable in the speech of teachers and students of the universities in the Southern part of England /Oxford, Cambridge, London/.

There are the following changes in pronouncing vowels:

a) shortening of long vowels, especially at the end of the word and before voiceless consonants, e.g. see, keep;

b) lengthening of short vowels before voiced consonants, e.g. big, good, come, jam etc. In such adjectives which end in /d/ lengthening of the vowel is observed all over England, e.g. bad, sad, glad, mad etc.

c) drawling of stressed syllables and clipping of unstressed syllables.

d) In unstressed syllables / / is pronounced instead of / i /, e.g. /b `ko:z/, /`evid ns/ etc.

e) In the words consisting of three or more syllables there is a tendency to have two main stresses,e.g. /`nes `s ri/, /`int `restin/.

f) The diphthong /ou/ is pronounced / u/,e.g. home /h um/, go /g u/.

g) the diphthong / u / is pronounced /o:/, e.g. sure /sho:/.

Vowels can also change under the influence of consonants:

a) after fricatives and consonants /n/ and /m/ /ju:/ is pronounced as /u:/, e.g. resume, music, news, enthusiasm.

b) before fricatives and combinations of fricatives with consonants «a« is pronounced as / /, e.g. dance, answer, class, fast.

The pronunciation of some consonants is also changed :

a) after a vowel /r/ is pronounced ,e.g. /ka:r/ , /ha:rt/.

b)There appears an intrusive /r/ in the combinations where after the final vowel / / there is a vowel at the beginning of the next word, e.g. the idea of, Asia and Europe/ on the analogy with word combinations there is, there are/.

c) /p/ and /t/ are glotalized in the middle of the word,e.g. matter is pronounced as /`m ? /, happy as /`h ? i/.

d) /s/ is used instead of /sh/ before /i/ in the structure of suffixes, e.g. social /`sousi l/, negotiate / ni`gousi,eit/;

e) /l/ is vocalized at the end of the word, e.g. full/ ful/( close to /v/ in sound).

f) /sh/ is voiced in the intervocal position in some geographical names, e.g . «Asia», «Persia»;

g) combinations of sounds /dj/, /tj/ , /sj/ in such words as duke, tube, issue have two variants of pronunciation: /d3u:k/ and /dju:k/, /chu:b/ and /tju:b/, /`ishu:/ and /`isju:/;

g) pronunciation approaching spelling is being developed, e.g. often /`oftn/, forehead / fo:`hed/ etc;

h) /t/ and/d/ at the end of words are not pronounced, e.g. «half past five’ /`ha:f `pa:s`faiv/, «old man» /`oul `m n/.

 

LEXICOGRAPHY

The theory and practice of compiling dictionaries is called lexicography. The history of compiling dictionaries for English comes as far back as the Old English period, where we can find glosses of religious books / interlinear translations from Latin into English/. Regular bilingual dictionaries began to appear in

the 15-th century /Anglo-Latin, Anglo-French , Anglo-German/.

The first unilingual dictionary explaining difficult words appeared in 1604, the author was Robert Cawdry, a schoolmaster. He compiled his dictionary for schoolchildren. In 1721 an English scientist and writer Nathan Bailey published the first etymological dictionary which explained the origin of English words. It was the first scientific dictionary, it was compiled for philologists.

In 1775 an English scientist compiled a famous explanatory dictionary. Its author was Samuel Johnson. Every word in his dictionary was illustrated by examples from English literature, the meanings of words were clear from the contexts in which they were used.. The dictionary was a great success and it influenced the development of lexicography in all countries. The dictionary influenced normalization of the English vocabulary. But at the same time it helped to preserve the English spelling in its conservative form.

In 1858 one of the members of the English philological society Dr. Trench raised the question of compiling a dictionary including all the words existing in the language. The philological society adopted the decision to compile the dictionary and the work started. More than a thousand people took part in collecting examples, and 26 years later in 1884 the first volume was published. It contained words beginning with «A» and «B». The last volume was published in 1928 that is 70 years after the decision to compile it was adopted. The dictionary was called NED and contained 12 volumes.

In 1933 the dictionary was republished under the title «The Oxford English Dictionary», because the work on the dictionary was conducted in Oxford. This dictionary contained 13 volumes. As the dictionary was very large and terribly expensive scientists continued their work and compiled shorter editions of the dictionary: «A Shorter Oxford Dictionary» consisting of two volumes. It had the same number of entries, but far less examples from literature. They also compiled «A Concise Oxford Dictionary» consisting of one volume and including only modern words and no examples from literature.

The American lexicography began to develop much later, at the end of the 18-th century. The most famous American English dictionary was compiled by Noah Webster. He was an active stateman and public man and he published his first dictionary in 1806. He went on with his work on the dictionary and in 1828 he published a two-volume dictionary. He tried to simplify the English spelling and transcription. He introduced the alphabetical system of transcription where he used letters and combinations of letters instead of transcription signs. He denoted vowels in closed syllables by the corresponding vowels, e.g. / a/, /e/, / i/, / o/, /u/. He denoted vowels in the open syllable by the same letters, but with a dash above them,e.g. / a/, /e/, /i/, /o/, /u/. He denoted vowels in the position before /r/ as the same letters with two dots above them, e.g. / a/, /o/ and by the l etter «e» with two dots above it for the combinations «er», «ir», «ur» because they are pronounced identically. The same tendency is preserved for other sounds : /u:/ is denoted by /oo/, /y/ is used for the sound /j/ etc.

 





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