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Stephen McLean

Joined: March 4, 2012
Comments posted: 2
Votes received: 7

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Both sides of the Atlantic have their foibles and things which are non-standard. Many times on American movies I hear (from supposedly educated characters): "if I would have gone, she would have been happy" instead of "If I had gone...". Conversely in England, many people say: "...she would of been happy".

Both of us completely mangle the grammatical form "this house is different from that one", with many English people saying "different to" and Americans saying "different than".

Not only do the English and Americans have differences in the way they talk, but the Scottish, Irish, Welsh, Australians, New Zealanders and Canadians also have subtle shibboleths which mark them as different.

Language is not a static construct, it is an evolving means of communication. Several hundred years ago, participle adjectives (bored, boring, interested, interesting, spell-bound, spell-binding) as well as the present continuous (present progressive) were frowned upon as corruptions, now they are the stable of English everywhere. Likewise, a few years ago use of "do" as an auxiliary (I go not > I do not go) was fiercely debated among linguists. Now, I cannot make a question without it, and it is even contracted (don't) which was the cardinal sin for linguists of centuries gone by.

Stephen McLean March 4, 2012, 8:28am

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England, being the ancient home of the English language has more dialects than all of the other anglophone countries put together. There are places in England where variations of "thou art" are still used and even from town to town you can perceive some sort of difference in pronunciation, accent and grammar.

In slang in many shires of the north people use "were" for every person. I were, he were, we were, they were. Whereas in southern colloquial English many people use "was". I was, you was, we was, they was. Again this dates back to 2 ancient forms of English where that was the standard. In fact, that is probably more correct than our present artificial form of speaking.

"Think to" is similarly a very ancient variation dating back from the 9th century when English was not one language, but at least 7 different languages. Those differences sometimes manifest themselves in local dialects. This particular variation probably comes from the Viking controlled areas during the Danelaw period.

All these nationalistic comments about either side of the Atlantic being unable to speak English are complete and utter xenophobic nonsense.

Stephen McLean March 4, 2012, 8:04am

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