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Introduction

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  08 January 2010

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Summary

British and American as national varieties

There are many varieties of English other than British (here the English of the United Kingdom) and American (here the English of the United States). All of those other varieties are intrinsically just as worthy of study and use as British and American. But these two varieties are the ones spoken by most native speakers of English and studied by most foreign learners. They have a special status as the two principal national varieties of the language simply because there is more material available in them than in any other variety.

British is the form of English now used in the country whence all other forms of English have ultimately derived. But present-day British is not the origin of any other variety of the language; rather it and all the other varieties are equally descendant from a form of English spoken in the British Isles in earlier times. In some respects, present-day British is closer to the common ancestral form of the present-day varieties than is American or other varieties; but in other respects the reverse is true, and American, for instance, preserves older uses that became obsolete in British use. To mistake present-day British for the ancestor of all other forms of English is a logical and factual error.

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British or American English?
A Handbook of Word and Grammar Patterns
, pp. 1 - 8
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2006

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  • Introduction
  • John Algeo
  • Book: British or American English?
  • Online publication: 08 January 2010
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511607240.002
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  • Introduction
  • John Algeo
  • Book: British or American English?
  • Online publication: 08 January 2010
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511607240.002
Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • Introduction
  • John Algeo
  • Book: British or American English?
  • Online publication: 08 January 2010
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511607240.002
Available formats
×