From the category archives:

american English

  • Language tip of the week: American and British English differences

    Posted by on March 19, 2013

    In this weekly post, we bring more useful content from the Macmillan Dictionary to English language learners. These tips are based on areas of English which learners often find difficult, e.g. spelling, grammar, collocation, synonyms, etc. This week we focus on American English, and today’s post highlights some key differences between American and British English […]

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  • Touchous, honeyfuggle, and whoopensocker

    Posted by on March 18, 2013

    We’ve looked before at dialectal vocabulary – those regional words and phrases peculiar to, or characteristic of, particular geographic areas. My earlier post focused on UK and Irish terms, but American speakers are no slouches in the regional expressions department. A good source of these is the US public radio show A Way with Words, […]

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  • Spin to win

    Posted by on October 09, 2012

    Early this year I wrote about the special meanings that US politicians may wish to convey when they bandy particular words. Now Americans are in the deep end of the campaign for the general election and the words are still flying. About 70 million people watched the first of three scheduled debates between President Obama […]

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  • Trending now!

    Posted by on January 30, 2012

    Humans never outgrow a fascination with new playthings, but after a certain age it is unseemly and unrealistic to expect a steady stream of surprise gifts from doting parents, aunts, uncles, and grandparents. One consolation for this loss is new words: clever coinages come along all the time to supply our craving for novelty. A […]

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  • American political discourse: a primer

    Posted by on January 17, 2012

    The run-up to a general election in the United States provides an opportunity for observers of English to see it stretched beyond ordinary limits. The winnowing process that will reduce the various Republican contenders in the race to one has begun and as we plod steadily toward the November election, the rhetoric heats up and […]

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  • Grinch and Scrooge bid farewell to 2011

    Posted by on January 03, 2012

    One of the top words looked up over the Christmas period was the word grinch. Most people know the word from the Dr Seuss story How the Grinch Stole Christmas which was made into a cartoon for TV and later a live-action movie. As well as being the name of the fictional character, the word […]

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  • The fall of the r-less class

    Posted by on November 14, 2011

    Class English month continues with the pronunciation theme: guest blogger Ben Trawick-Smith, from Dialect Blog, takes a look at (non-)rhoticity in American English. Ben has worked as an actor, playwright, director, critic and dialect coach. His other passions include linguistics, urban development, philosophy and film. Ben lives with his wife in Seattle, Washington, in the […]

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  • Bringing some colour to your day …

    Posted by on December 02, 2010

    The other day, an American friend of mine told me he’d got a kitten, but then completely stumped me by saying she was a ‘brindle’. Was that a special breed, I wondered, or did she need medical treatment? It turns out, ‘brindle’ is what we in the UK would call tortoiseshell, and it got me […]

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  • The language of American politics

    Posted by on November 01, 2010

    Tomorrow, on 2nd November, the US are holding mid-term elections which will determine who – Republicans or Democrats – will control Congress for the next two years (for predictions, see here). As the 2000 Presidential Election spectacularly proved, the American electorate is divided into two camps. On one side are the Democrat-voting blue states, located […]

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  • “Hunger” is in the mind (or the stomach)
    of the beholder

    Posted by on August 12, 2010

    We make a quick return to American English today, with a guest post by Joel Berg, Executive Director of the New York City Coalition Against Hunger and author of the book, All You Can Eat: How Hungry is America?. __________ American society is willing to use the words “hungry” and “hunger” to denote a wide […]

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