How the English language changed after American independence

USA fan
A USA fan during the Women's Football Semi Final match between Canada and USA, on Day 10 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at Old Trafford on August 6, 2012 in Manchester, England.
Stanley Chou/Getty Images

Anatoly Liberman, professor in the Department of German, Scandanavian and Dutch at the University of Minnesota, has just returned from a trip to London where he was likely reminded how American colonists have fractured the language that we inherited from the homeland.

British blog Mind the Gap recently ran a story about how Brits can avoid "verbal confusion in America:"

If you pronounce words like "staff" and "bath" with the long A, I'm afraid you'll have to stop that immediately. The worst possible phrase you can say this way is surely "having the last laugh." One long A might be OK with Americans, but consecutive strangeness is doomed. (Obviously there are some Americans who are totally used to hearing this, but the majority won't be.) All such A's in the U.S. are flat and northern English-sounding -- except where you'd least expect it. Names like "Anna" and "Hannah" are sometimes pronounced more like we'd say -- well, "faster" with a long A. The word "pasta," too, is often given a much longer A that Brits are typically used to.

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Liberman joins The Daily Circuit to discuss how America's use of English has evolved during this Fourth of July week.


British English/American English Vocabulary

"Here are some of the main differences in vocabulary between British and American English." (English Club)

The American's guide to speaking British

"1000 words and expressions that have varied in their usage between the US and the UK." (The Best of British)

Why Are British English and American English Different?

"American English is different from British English because of the revolutionary leanings of a dictionary writer (Noah Webster), typesetting conventions, geographical separation, and the opinion of one influential style guide author (H.W. Fowler)." (Grammar Girl)

Do you speak American?

"For more than 200 years, right up through Prince Charles, people have complained that Americans trash the English language. But is it corruption -- or simply normal change? John Algeo investigates how both American and British Englishes have evolved." (PBS)