Some differences between British English and American English

There are many varieties of English other than British English, as you will discover if you are learning the language. Variations of the English language can be found in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Jamaica, to name but a few. However, the most well-known differences are between English in the United Kingdom and English in the United States. Some of these differences are very well-known, such as calling a pavement a sidewalk or a garden a backyard. Who hasn’t watched American films and TV series and noticed various differences between two languages. As George Bernard Shaw said, ‘England and America are two countries separated by a common language’. However, an English person can go to America or an American can go to England without any serious problems of communication. Why did these differences arise? The English language first came to America in 1607 when the settlement of Jamestown, Virginia was established. Since then, the two languages have not evolved in the same way, each being affected by different types of cultural and linguistic influences from, for example, immigrants. In one country, an old word might be kept and in the other a newer word would be used. The main differences between American and British English are to be found in spelling, grammar and vocabulary. Vocabulary I think this is the most well-known area of differences between the two languages. Apart from sidewalk and backyard, examples include truck (US) for lorry (UK), autumn becomes fall and biscuits become cookies in the US. Your purse is not for your change, it is your handbag. The change is kept in a change purse. In the UK you wouldn’t want anyone to see your pants as they are articles of underwear, in America you wouldn’t mind, as they are your trousers. Be careful what you ask for to eat, sweets are candy, crisps are chips and chips are French fries, a marrow is a squash and candyfloss is cotton candy in the US. If you want to go to the loo or toilet in America you must ask for the bathroom or restroom, whereas bathroom in Britain is where you have your bath. Some meanings of the same words are different between the two types of English. Mean in the US means angry or bad-tempered, in the UK it refers to someone who is tight-fisted and miserly. Quite in the US means ‘very’, whereas in the UK it means somewhat or fairly. Spelling This is also an area where there are differences between the two languages. For instance, words in British English that end in -our, such as colour and humour, end in -or in American English, color, humor. Favourite becomes favorite, -re becomes -er; theatre/theater, kilometre/kilometer. ‘S’ is often replaces by ‘z’, so realise becomes realize, cosy becomes cozy. The double ‘l’ in traveller changes to one ‘l’ in the US, traveler, the same for jewellery which becomes jewelry, also losing an ‘e’ in the process. Programme becomes program, dialogue becomes dialog, grey becomes gray and so on. Grammar One of the main grammatical differences between the two forms of English is the forms of the past simple verbs. There are some verbs that have a regular and irregular past form, eg burnt and burned, the irregular form being more current in Britain and the regular form more current in the US. These include: dreamt/dreamed, learnt/learned, smelt/smelled, spelt/spelled, spilt/spilled, spoilt/spoiled. There is a change in some past participles, too, the most well-known being gotten in the US for got in the UK. The use of the present perfect also varies between the two countries. In Britain it is used for an action in the recent past that has an effect on the present moment, eg. ‘I’ve lost my wallet’, meaning I lost it a short while ago and still haven’t got it. The Americans would use the past simple and say ‘I lost my wallet’. This also applies to sentences with already, just and yet. In Britain we would use the present perfect, ‘I’ve just had breakfast’, ‘I’ve already done my homework’ and ‘Have you finished your dinner yet?’, but the Americans could use these forms or the past simple, ‘I just had breakfast’, ‘I already did my homework’ and ‘Did you finish your dinner?’. In all these cases there are more examples than I have listed here. If you are writing in English it is a good idea to keep to one type of English and to try not to mix the terms and meanings so that your document is easily understandable.

Les faux amis en anglais et français

Certains mots, à la fois en anglais et en français, peuvent être difficiles à traduire. Ils sont si semblables qu’il est facile de penser que leur signification est la même dans les deux langues. Toutefois, ce n’est pas seulement leur prononciation qui est différente. Parfois, il y a un léger chevauchement de sens et ils peuvent se traduire totalement différemment et cela pourrait changer radicalement le sens de votre texte. Par exemple, sensible n’est pas la même chose en anglais et en français. En anglais, il signifie quelqu’un de pratique, terre-à-fait, intelligent, raisonnable en français; en français, il se réfère à quelqu’un qui est susceptible, facilement blessé, impressionable. L’utilisation abusive de ce mot pourrait donner une idée totalement différente de cette personne dans une langue par rapport à l’autre. De nombreux mots ont les mêmes racines, comme le latin, mais les langues ont évolué en même temps que le sens de ces mots, bien que beaucoup ont continué à être écrit de manière identique. Certains ont connu de légers changements dans l’orthographe, comme gentil et gentle. Gentle en anglais signifie d’une nature douce et aimable et gentil en français signifie agréable, ou bon. Ici, il y a un chevauchement de sens, les deux langues indiquent l’amabilité, mais, en anglais, l’accent est mis sur la douceur ou la bénignité. D’autres mots sont orthographiés exactement pareil, mais leur signification est totalement différente, comme four, qui est un four en français et en anglais le nombre quatre, ou chat, qui signifie un brin de conversation en anglais et un animal domestique en français. Ici, la liste est interminable. On doit être prudent avec d’autres termes, par exemple: grand; hazard/hasard; mercy/merci; store; tentative; proper/propre; acutally/actuellement. Là encore, il y a des mots qui ont deux significations et vous devez être sûr de choisir la bonne pour votre traduction. Par exemple, en français voler signifie en anglais “to fly” et “to steal”, bark en anglais signifie le bruit fait par les chiens et l’écorce d’un arbre. Tous ces éléments peuvent causer beaucoup de confusion chez les étudiants en langues et la seule solution est de mémoriser les différences de sens. Sinon, vous pourriez finir par produire des erreurs telles que la traduction noyer comme “drowning” au lieu de “walnut” pour produire l’expression “the drowning table and chairs” (la table à manger et les chaises noyade). Bien que très amusant pour vos lecteurs anglais, s’ils ne savent pas du tout le français, ils ne devineront jamais que vous voulez vraiment dire, ce qui est “la table et les chaises de noyer” (en fait, j’ai vous cela dans un guide touristique). C’est une des raisons pour utiliser un service de traduction de qualité de sorte que vous pouvez être sûr que votre copie est correcte même si elle n’est pas drôle.