Lexicology of the English Language

: 27/38

Another feature of Cockney is rhyming slang: hat is tit for tat, wife is trouble and strife, head is loaf of bread etc. There are also such words as tanner /sixpence/, peckish/hungry/.

Peter Wain in the Education Guardian writes about accents spoken by University teachers: It is a variety of Southern English RP which is different from Daniel Joness description. The English, public school leavers speak, is called marked RP, it has some characteristic features : the vowels are more central than in English taught abroad, e.g. bleck het/for black hat/, some diphthongs are also different, e.g. house is pronounced /hais/. There is less aspiration in /p/, /b/, /t/ /d/.

The American English is practically uniform all over the country, because of the constant transfer of people from one part of the country to the other. However, some peculiarities in New York dialect can be pointed out, such as: there is no distinction between / / and /a: / in words: ask, dance sand bad, both phonemes are possible. The combination ir in the words: bird, girl ear in the word learn is pronoinced as /oi/ e.g. /boid/, /goil/, /loin/.In the words duty, tune /j/ is not pronounced /du:ti/, /tu:n/.


British and American English are two main variants of English. Besides them there are : Canadian, Australian, Indian, New Zealand and other variants. They have some peculiarities in pronunciation, grammar and vocabulary, but they are easily used for communication between people living in these countries. As far as the American English is concerned, some scientists /H.N. Menken, for example/ tried to prove that there is a separate American language. In 1919 H.N. Menken published a book called The American Language. But most scientists, American ones including, criticized his point of view because differences between the two variants are not systematic.

American English begins its history at the beginning of the 17-th century when first English-speaking settlers began to settle on the Atlantic coast of the American continent. The language which they brought from England was the language spoken in England during the reign of Elizabeth the First.

In the earliest period the task of Englishmen was to find names for places, animals, plants, customs which they came across on the American continent. They took some of names from languages spoken by the local population - Indians, such as :chipmuck/an American squirrel/, igloo /Escimo dome-shaped hut/, skunk / a black and white striped animal with a bushy tail/, squaw / an Indian woman/, wigwam /an American Indian tent made of skins and bark/ etc.

Besides Englishmen, settlers from other countries came to America, and English-speaking settlers mixed with them and borrowed some words from their languages, e.g. from French the words bureau/a writing desk/, cache /a hiding place for treasure, provision/, depot/ a store-house/, pumpkin/a plant bearing large edible fruit/. From Spanish such words as: adobe / unburnt sun-dried brick/, bananza /prosperity/, cockroach /a beetle-like insect/, lasso / a noosed rope for catching cattle/ were borrowed.

Present-day New York stems from the Dutch colony New Amsterdam, and Dutch also influenced English. Such words as: boss, dope, sleigh were borrowed .

The second period of American English history begins in the 19-th century. Immigrants continued to come from Europe to America. When large groups of immigrants from the same country came to America some of their words were borrowed into English. Italians brought with them a style of cooking which became widely spread and such words as: pizza, spaghetti came into English. From the great number of German-speaking settlers the following words were borrowed into English: delicatessen, lager, hamburger, noodle, schnitzel and many others.

During the second period of American English history there appeared quite a number of words and word-groups which were formed in the language due to the new poitical system, liberation of America from the British colonialism, its independence. The following lexical units appeared due to these events: the United States of America , assembly, caucus, congress, Senate, congressman, President, senator, precinct, Vice-President and many others. Besides these political terms many other words were coined in American English in the 19-th century: to antagonize, to demoralize, influential, department store, telegram, telephone and many others.

: 21/06/2009