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 English vs. American

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riders57

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PostSubject: English vs. American   Mon Sep 02, 2013 10:04 am

Since we have a multinational membership here, with folks on both sides of the pond, as well as those for whom English of whatever variety is not their native language, I thought it would be useful to discuss some of the differences between English and American, both grammatically and linguistically.

For example: in grammar -- When enclosing words, phrases, paragraphs, etc. within double quotation marks in American, one includes final commas or periods within the quotation marks. Question marks and colons are outside the quotation marks and semicolons can go either place correctly. So -- it would be: Have you read "The Death of a Salesman"? or I have never read "The Death of a Salesman." Similarly, it would be correct to write: While reading "The Death of a Salesman," I was overcome with sadness.

In English, only punctuation that is part of the thing being quoted belongs within the quotation marks. So the correct approach for all of those sentences would be: Have you read "The Death of a Salesman"? I have never read "The Death of a Salesman". While reading "The Death of a Salesman", I was over come with sadness.


Then we all know of some examples of differences in phrasing that can cause confusion on the wrong side of the pond.

For example:

To knock someone up (come by someone's place or make them pregnant)
To be pissed (to be drunk or to be angry)
To keep one's pecker up (to keep one's chin up or other parts of one's anatomy)

What are some of the other differences, grammatically or in phraseology, of which we should be aware?

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skykomish

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PostSubject: Re: English vs. American   Tue Sep 03, 2013 10:17 am

Great idea, Riders.  I love how the differences between English and American demonstrates that grammar does not always have black and white rules.  There are often multiple "right" ways to write something.  

The following is from the Oxford Dictionaries .com

Quotation marks
Quotation marks can be single (‘x’) or double (‘’x‘’).

Main uses

Quotation marks are used in the following cases:

   to mark the beginning and end of direct speech (i.e., a speaker’s words written down exactly as they were spoken). In American English, the rule is to use double quotation marks:

"That," he said, "is nonsense."
"What time will he arrive?" she asked.

In British English, quotation marks are called inverted commas, and the single ones are used more frequently than the double for direct speech.

See more information about how to use punctuation in direct speech.

   to mark off a word or phrase that’s being discussed, or that’s being directly quoted from somewhere else. In this case, in American English, single or double quotation marks are acceptable but it's important to stick to one way or the other throughout a piece of writing. Any punctuation associated with the word or phrase in question should come before the closing quotation mark or marks:

What does ‘integrated circuit’ mean?
He called this phenomenon ‘the memory of water.’ Next, a hollow spout, known as a "feeder tube," is placed in the hole.

In British English, the usual style is to use single quotation marks, while any associated punctuation is placed outside the closing quotation mark:
Their new single is called 'Curtain Falls'.

 Direct speech within direct speech

As we saw above, the rule in American English is to use double quotation marks for direct speech. The exception is when a piece of direct speech is quoted within another piece of direct speech, in which case the internal quote should use single quotation marks. For example:

Professor Flynn began with, "Even if you've never read a word of Shakespeare, I'm sure you've heard 'To be or not to be' a thousand times."


As odd as it may look to American readers, it is perfectly correct in British writing to use single quotation marks for direct speech and double quotation marks to enclose quoted material within. For example:  
She still sounds amazed when she says: ‘We were turned down because “we represented too small a minority of the population”. They could still get away with saying things like that then.’
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Gringa

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PostSubject: Re: English vs. American   Sat Sep 07, 2013 9:03 am

Ladies, I find this invaluable. If you see any more differences please post. It is a help to those of us not writing in our first language.
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riders57

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PostSubject: Re: English vs. American   Sat Sep 07, 2013 2:38 pm

Here's a link to a quick discussion of several differences -- I am particularly interested in the discussion of the different preposition usage, this has always jumped out at me, so...

http://www.onestopenglish.com/grammar/grammar-reference/american-english-vs-british-english/differences-in-american-and-british-english-grammar-article/152820.article

it's long but hopefully that worked
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Silverkelpie

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PostSubject: Re: English vs. American   Sat Sep 07, 2013 3:52 pm

What a great link Riders. Of course, this only captures the American/English divide. The English of Gaelic speaking people are also affected by their prime language and differences can be found at the links below. The Irish have a form called Hiberno English and the Scots have Highland English:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Highland_English

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hiberno%E2%80%90English

Of course, just to be even more awkward, the Scots also have Lallans, or Scots which is a form of English derived largely from Anglo Saxon and Medieval French which is recognised by the Language Council of Europe as a language in it's own right as the syntax and vocabulary are significantly different from English to lift it from the status of dialect.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scottish_English

You may have encountered Scots in the poetry of Robert Burns.

I must confess to not realising how often I used the redundant Gaelic 'then' at the end of a sentence until I was beta'd. I think it also affects how I build descriptions. I think my English can be described as bipolar!
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riders57

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PostSubject: Re: English vs. American   Fri Sep 27, 2013 6:32 am

Another link to a collection of words/phrases and their meanings in British English v. American English

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_words_having_different_meanings_in_American_and_British_English:_A%E2%80%93L
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