american English global English

Dudes and dudettes, it’s American-English month!

Over here! Right over here in the red, white and blue … eyes off the ball for a minute! It’s American-English month, yeeha! We suggest that for the month of July you set your, of course, bookmarked/tabbed/favourited to ‘American English‘ and practise pronouncing words in Am rather than Br … obviously, unless you do that already … which you may do … do you?

I hate to go on about it, but when I taught English in Taiwan (please don’t yawn, it’s rude in any accent) I was required to teach in an American accent. Now, if you are familiar with the South African accent you may be able to overlay it with an American one and then play the mangled result forward in your head. I wager that there is now a small but entertaining community of South Africans strewn across the planet who have weird American twangs that jump out exclusively with words like bath (go on and follow through on the link and check the pronunciation, work with me) and data and who say gas for petrol and awesome for … rather quite good. I am not sure whether teaching in an American accent is still a requirement in Taiwan, but it was always strange when nipping over to Hong Kong, to hear the adopted British accent that was/is used when locals speak English there. So I wonder what your preference is (I mean if you are not either a British or American citizen). What is it and why do you choose it? I do realise there is politics and history that comes in to play here, but for the moment I am wondering about your personal preference.

I once shared an office with two Britons and an American. We all started work at more or less the same time and were all just getting to know each other. One day my new American friend took me aside and said: ‘Do you understand what those two are saying when they speak?’ ‘Yes,’ I replied. ‘But maybe that’s because I am more used to the British accent.’ ‘No,’ he said, ‘It’s not their accent it’s that they don’t seem to say what they mean.’ Now I am not sure that this is the case in general, but I know that there are some cultural differences that are reflected in the different ways that Americans and British people use English and that sometimes they can seem like two different languages. Would make for an interesting discussion this month I think. But play nice, mate. Take it easy, dude!

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Laine Redpath Cole


  • Not only is the 4th of July coming up but it’s American English month as well. Can’t wait!.
    I loved your Taiwan teaching story, and as for the one about your British and American colleagues – well – you have described my world. Ha!
    I’m a Brit and it’s unmistakable in my accent. After more than a decade living in the US, my attempts at a ‘merican accent still sound woefully phoney. To avoid embarrassment, I don’t try it too often, but there are times when my back is up against a wall. For example:
    1. In class
    Sometimes one of those pesky words comes up that sounds very different.
    (can’t, advertisement, aluminum/aluminium etc.) So I’ll give it a whirl, providing the classroom door is closed so none of my American colleagues can hear me of course- don’t want to encourage too much hilarity.
    2. Machines
    There’s no getting round it when you’re talking to a machine. If I call Sears and the automated answering service asks ‘Which department do you want?’, ‘fridges’ just won’t get me there. It’s time to disengage British brain, engage ‘merican and roll out ‘rrefrigerrratorrrs’.
    Here’s a lady I’d love to have classes from.

  • […] So anyway, I chuckled when I read Laine Cole’s anecdote over at the Macmillan Dictionary Blog (where they have just started running an American English month – very exciting!) She has illustrated it perfectly. Laine grew up in South Africa and her story goes thus: I once shared an office with two Britons and an American. We all started work at more or less the sa… […]

  • Please don’t ignore the differing dialects we Americans speak. Born in the Northeast near New York, now living in the deep South near Atlanta, I sometimes wonder if we speak the same language that was once the “Mother Tongue.”

  • Well, I hope y’all had a great 4th of July! 😉
    Vicki, I really relate to your machine conversations. As a throwback to my American-English teaching days, when I am talking to my children and am trying to enunciate clearly in order to teach them a new word or to make myself understood, I tend to do the rolling rrrrs and the American-accented vowels. As a result my children have truly bizarre accents that involve the flat South African ‘o’, the English dropped ‘t’ and the rolling American r.
    Gill, I’m aware that there must be differing dialects (lots of them) but am not familiar enough with American people/culture/English to write about them … would be a great post to have though. Anybody?

  • um…Am I the only one who’s going to comment on the fact that in AmE, women are “dudettes” not “dudettas”? I’m from New York City by the way.

  • Hi Amy! Laine’s on holiday this week so I’m responding on her behalf. Thanks very much for the correction – I think Laine was referring back to her Russian post from a month or so ago in this post title 🙂 (I’ve made the correction so as not to confuse…)

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