El Inglés, un idioma internacional
En el siguiente artículo, el inglés un idioma internacional se habla no sobre un inglés standard, sino que a lo largo de los años, cada país ha adaptado el inglés a su manera. Además, se pone ejemplos de una misma palabra, como se pronuncia en países como USA o UK.
Is there such a thing today as ‘the English language’?
With the arrival of globalisation – and the British Empire rendered a mere historical footnote – the notion that there exists one pure, superior strain of English, a standard to which all other forms must adhere and aspire to, seems quaintly antiquated. In today´s world, the truth is that there are as many Englishes as there are countries in which the language is used.
For starters, of course, we have British English; long considered the most ‘authentic’ version of English, given that the language originated on the British Isles. Then there is American English, arguably the most prevalent influence on non-native speakers due to Hollywood´s vast reach. However, even a cursory examination of British English exposes basic ontological difficulties. What is meant by British English, exactly? The version spoken mainly in England, the United Kingdom´s most populous country? A dash of Scottish English, perhaps? Or the English spoken in Wales, or Northern Ireland?
Clearly, an obsession with specificity could lead to reductio ad absurdum, where we find ourselves filing down through various geographical and socio-political strata until we alight on a small village or tiny hamlet before we satisfy our craving for a pure definition of English. Better to accept that varieties of English exist, and should be respected for their qualities and idiosyncracies.
Nowhere is this best exemplified than in differences in vocabulary. Britons and Americans may ostensibly share a language but there are many variations in lexis. Some examples are: pavement (UK), sidewalk (US); petrol (UK), gas (US); lift (UK), elevator (US); aubergine (UK), eggplant (US); autumn (UK), fall (US); full stop (UK), period (US); crisps (UK), chips (US); etc.
There are also variations in British and American spelling, which are largely down to the intervention of a man named Noah Webster: he of the now famous Webster’s Dictionary of English. Webster was a Connecticut-born lexicographer who believed that English spelling could be many unneccesarily tricky at times, and so decided to simplify many words for American use.
Probably the most well-known change he affected was in the spelling of words that end ‘ -our’ in British English, e.g. ‘colour’, ‘humour’, ‘rumour’. Webster removed the ‘u’, which he deemed superfluous, and gave the world ‘color’, ‘humor’ and ‘rumor’ – spellings which are used in the US to this day. Canadian and Australian English often follow the British example, as though out of some sense of post-colonial affiliation: for example, they both retain the ‘u’ in ‘ -our’ words.
When it comes to the names of rivers, British English places the word ‘river’ before the name (e.g. the river Thames’), whereas American English places it after (e.g. the Hudson river). When forming compound nouns using a verb and a noun, British English favours the gerund (e.g. skipping rope, filing cabinet) whilst American English opts for the bare infinitive (e.g. jump rope, file cabinet).