Lexicology. Different dialects and accents of English

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The opposition of any two lexical systems among the variants described is of great linguistic and heuristic value because it furnishes ample data for observing the influence of extra-linguistic factors upon the vocabu­lary. American political vocabulary shows this point very definitely: absentee voting 'voting by mail', dark horse 'a candidate nominated unexpectedly and not known to his voters', to gerrymander 'to arrange and falsify the electoral process to produce a favorable result in the interests of a particular party or candidate', all-outer 'an adept of decisive meas­ures'.

Many of the foreign elements borrowed into American English from the Indian dialects or from Spanish penetrated very soon not only into British English but also into several other languages, Russian not excluded, and so became international. They are: canoe, moccasin, squaw, tomahawk, wigwam, etc. and translation loans: pipe of peace, pale-face and the. like, taken from Indian languages. The Spanish borrowings like cafeteria, mustang, ranch, sombrero, etc. are very familiar to the speakers of many European languages. It is only by force of habit that linguists still include these words among the specific features of American English.

As to the toponyms, for instance, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, Utah (all names of Indian tribes), or other names of towns, rivers and states named by Indian words, it must be borne in mind that in all coun­tries of the world towns, rivers and the like show in their names traces of the earlier inhabitants of the land in question.

Another big group of peculiarities as compared with the English of Great Britain is caused by some specific features of pronunciation, stress or spelling standards, such as [ae] for in ask, dance, path, etc., or Ie] for [ei] in made, day and some other.

The American spelling is in some respects simpler than its British counterpart, in other respects just different. The suffix -our is spelled -or, so that armor and humor are the American variants of armour and humour. Altho stands for although and thru for through. The table below illustrates some of the other differences but it is by no means exhaustive. For a more complete treatment the reader is referred to the monograph by A. D. Schweitzer:

British spelling American spelling

offence offense

cosy cozy

practice practise

thralldom thralldom

jewellery jewelery

traveling traveling

In the course of time with the development of the modern means of communication the lexical differences between the two variants show a tendency to decrease. Americanisms penetrate into Standard English and Britishisms come to be widely used in American speech. Americanisms mentioned as specific in manuals issued a few decades ago are now used on both sides of the Atlantic or substituted by terms formerly considered as specifically British. It was, for instance, customary to contrast the English word autumn with the American fall. In reality both words are used in both countries, only autumn is somewhat more elevated, while in England the word fall is now rare in literary use, though found in some dialects and surviving in set expressions: spring and fall, the fall of the year are still in fairly common use.

Cinema and TV are probably the most important channels for the passage of Americanisms into the language of Britain and other languages as well: the Germans adopted the word teenager and the French speak of Vautomatisation. The influence of American publicity is also a vehicle of Americanisms. This is how the British term wireless is replaced by the Americanism radio. The jargon of American film-advertising makes its way into British usage; i.e. of all time (in "the greatest film of all time"). The phrase is now firmly established as standard vocabulary and applied to subjects other than films.

Реферат опубликован: 26/03/2008