domingo, 24 de octubre de 2010

American VS British English

Whenever I meet somebody and they know I am a teacher of English, they ask me if I teach American or British. I try to explain that those two are variations of basically the same language, but they looke at me with an expert air to which anybody can hardly find a good answer, I mean... people will believe whatever they want, won´t they? And they usually give me lines like: "But I´ve been told that British English is purer." Or: "They say that Americans´ speech is full of slang and contractions." When I ask them if they know that for sure (I make it a point to stare at them, just to give emphasis to the verb know), they come up with, "the weather is terrible these days, isn´t it?" and ran off to find somebody else to talk to.
This entry today is not here to discuss the validity or superiority of regional variations, accents, or the like, but to invite you to watch the video I found on YouTube... about American - British English differences!!!!!
It´s not known for sure who said "America and Britain are two nations divided by a common language." Some say it was George Bernad Shaw who coined the phrase, others blame Oscar Wilde, and even a minority propose Winston Churchill as the author. You might recall also the catchy song that went "You say potato and I potatoe..." The thing is, the video is a good laugh. It features a well-known British actor who plays an American character on a popular TV show: Hugh Laurie. Who on the face of earth is Hugh Laurie? Well, you might better recognise him by the name of Dr. Gregory House. You didn´t know he was a Briton, did you? Why, yeah, he was, he still is. When he auditioned for this part, he demonstrated that he could mimick the American accent well, and got the job. House has become famous for his witty and cinical remarks like "Everybody lies." In fact, two books about his "philosophy" are on sale now (find them at the Book Fair at Kennedy Park).
Enough talk (???) now. Enjoy the video of Hugh Laurie answering questions about vocabulary in the Ellen Degeneres show. Just one final suggestion (on behalf of our suffering students): Do not for Heavens´sake put these words in your quizzes.


Cesar Klauer

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2 comentarios:

Prof. Giovanni Gonzales, Lima, Peru dijo...

Hello Mr. Klauer:
I watch the video and i enjoyed it but "BA DONKA DONK" really exists or it is just for fun (I mean the word not the lady) ;)

I am learning more and more through your blog.


Prof. Giovanni Gonzales
Teacher of Business English

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AmigoBryan dijo...


In the wonderful series, "The Story of English," the authors take this approach, that there are not just two English accents, but instead very likely hundreds of variations, some more distinct than others. These are not accents, but variations of English. Only learners have temporary "accents".

Episode 1, part 1/7 (there are 9 episodes)

So for USer English, I could ask which region, which city? Inland English (Great Lakes) with the Northern Cities Vowel Shift ("Da Bears", "Da Cubs", etc.)? And for UK English, I could ask which county, which city, and which part of the city? And then, "Common" or "Received Pronunciation" (RP). Then finally, I might ask about Canadian, European, Jamaican, Nigerian, Kenyan, Indian, Singaporean, Hong Kong, Australian, New Zealand or Peruvian English, in terms of "Which is best?"

But, of course, none of these is "best", except among its local speakers. UK English is simply different than USer English.

So when people ask me about English teaching and which English I like the best, I always answer: "Chicagoan".

And then they walk away and seek out easier prey. :)