Lexicology. Different dialects and accents of English

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The personal visits of writers and scholars to the USA and all forms of other personal contacts bring back Americanisms.

The existing cases of difference between the two variants, are conveniently classified into:

1) Cases where there are no equivalents in British English: drive-in a cinema where you can see the film without getting out of your car' or 'a shop where motorists buy things staying in the car'; dude ranch 'a sham ranch used as a summer residence for holiday-makers from the cities'. The noun dude was originally a contemptuous nickname given by the inhabitants of the Western states to those of the Eastern states. Now there is no contempt intended in the word dude. It simply means 'a person who pays his way on a far ranch or camp'.

2) Cases where different words are used for the same denotatum, such as can, candy, mailbox, movies, suspenders, truck in the USA and tin, sweets, pillar-box (or letter-box), pictures or flicks, braces and lorry in England.

3) Cases where the semantic structure of a partially equivalent word is different. The word pavement, for example, means in the first place 'covering of the street or the floor and the like made of asphalt, stones or some other material'. The derived meaning is in England 'the footway at the side of the road'. The Americans use the noun sidewalk for this, while pavement with them means 'the roadway'.

4) Cases where otherwise equivalent words are different in distribution. The verb ride in Standard English is mostly combined with such nouns as a horse, a bicycle, more seldom they say to ride on a bus. In American English combinations like a ride on the train to ride in a boat are .quite usual.

5) It sometimes happens that the same word is used in American English with some difference in emotional and stylistic colouring. Nasty, for example, is a much milder expression of disapproval in England than in the States, where it was even considered obscene in the 19th century. Politician in England means 'someone in polities', and is derogatory in the USA. Professor Shweitzer, pays special attention to phenomena differing in social norms of usage. E.g. balance in its lexico-semantic variant 'the remainder of anything' is substandard in British English and quite literary in America.

6) Last but not least, there may be a marked difference in frequency characteristics. Thus, time-table which occurs in American English very rarely, yielded its place to schedule.

This question of different frequency distribution is also of paramount importance if we wish to investigate the morphological peculiarities of the American variant. Practically speaking the same patterns and means of word-formation are used in coining neologisms in both variants. Only the frequency observed in both cases may be different. Some of the suffixes more frequently used in American English are: - (draftee n 'a young man about to be enlisted'), -ette - tambourmajorette 'one of the girl drummers in front of a procession'), -dom and -ster, as in roadster 'motor-car for long journeys by road' or gangsterdom.

American slang uses alongside the traditional ones also a few specific models, such as verb stem-1- -er+adverb stem +--er: e.g. opener-upper 'the first item on the programme' and winder-upper 'the last item', respectively. It also possesses some specific affixes and semi-affixes not used in literary Colloquial: -o, -eroo, -aroo, -sie/sy, as in coppo 'policeman', fatso 'a fat man', bossaroo 'boss', chapsie 'fellow'.

The trend to shorten words and to use initial abbreviations is even more pronounced than in the British variant. New coinages are incessantly introduced in advertisements, in the press, in everyday conversation; soon they fade out and are replaced by the newest creations. Ring Lardner, very popular in the 30's, makes one of his characters, a hospital nurse, repeatedly use two enigmatic abbreviations: G.F. and P. F.; at last the patient asks her to clear the mystery.

: 26/03/2008