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Re: [Lingo] British English

> I'm a brit, and all this stuff about "British English" really pisses
> me off personally. English is spoken by the saxons (the English).
> Sassenachs (Angles, or Lowland Scots) speak Scots. The true Scot
> speaks Gaelic. And the Welsh, surprisingly, speak Welsh.

Saxons? I speak English and I ain't no Saxon. Are we stuck in the
10th century?

> This picture is, of course, not helped by the fact that the majority
> of people living in Scotland are, in fact, English - the Scots
> themselves having for the most part been driven out and emigrated to
> the colonies. And the majority of people living in Wales....

Yadda yadda.... The author's viewpoint seems to be crippled by the fact
that he knows way too much about the history of the peoples who have
populated the British Isles. Valuable as this knowledge might be, it is
irrelevant to the question at hand.

> Britain is NOT a homogenous country with a homogenous language.

This is absolutely right, of course. The varieties of English spoken in
the Isles are many and quite diverse, perhaps even surprisingly so for
such a small place. The varieties spoken in North America, e.g., are
similarly diverse, and there's no *one* American English either. These
facts are so obvious as to be hardly worth stating....

> There is no such thing as British English (which is an American
> invention) because, culturally speaking, there is no such thing as
> Britain to share a common language!

But this is wrong, of course.... firstly because the author seems to
think that language depends somehow on culture or ethnicity, which of
course it doesn't. Period. But he would still be wrong to say that there
is no such thing (an American invention! Imagine! :-)

Imagine an experiment in which you gathered together 20 people who don't
know each other, but each one is either from the British Isles or from
North America, roughly half of each, including a wide variety of
different geographical locations (and imagine they speak the dialect of
their hometown more or less purely). Not hard to do in Tokyo! Get each
one in turn to read a passage of about 10 sentences, then get the other
19 to say whether that person is an Islander or a Colonial.

I think you'll find that with very close to 100% accuracy, everyone will
be able to tell who are the Islanders and who the Colonials.  Increase
the 20 to 50, or 100, and the results should be the same. And that's not
even taking into account the obvious vocabulary differences, never mind
whether or not certain words are spelled (spelt?) with a "u" :-)

Voila. British English exists.


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