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American English (AmE, AE, AmEng, USEng, en-US), sometimes called United States English or U.S. English, is the set of
varieties Variety may refer to: Science and technology Mathematics * Algebraic variety, the set of solutions of a system of polynomial equations * Variety (universal algebra), classes of algebraic structures defined by equations in universal algebra Hort ...
of the
English language English is a West Germanic language first spoken in early medieval England, which has eventually become the leading language of international discourse in the 21st century. It is named after the Angles, one of the ancient Germanic peoples tha ...

English language
native to the United States. Currently, American English is the most influential form of English worldwide. English is the most widely spoken language in the United States and is the ''
de facto In law and government, ''de facto'' ( ; , "in fact") describes practices that exist in reality, even though they are not officially recognized by laws. It is commonly used to refer to what happens in practice, in contrast with ''de jure'' ("by law ...
'' common language used by the federal and state governments, to the extent that all laws and compulsory education presume English as the primary language. English is explicitly given official status by 32 of the 50 state governments. While the local courts in some divisions of the United States grant equivalent status to both English and another language—for example, English and Spanish in
Puerto Rico Puerto Rico ('; abbreviated PR, tnq|Boriken, Borinquen), officially the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico ( es|link=yes|Estado Libre Asociado de Puerto Rico|lit=Free Associated State of Puerto Rico) is a Caribbean island and unincorporated territo ...
—under federal law, English is still the official language for any matters being referred to the
United States district court The United States district courts are the general trial courts of the United States federal judiciary. Both civil and criminal cases are filed in district courts, each of which is a court of law, equity, and admiralty. There is a United States ...
for the territory. American English varieties include many patterns of pronunciation, vocabulary, grammar, and particularly spelling that are unified nationwide but distinct from other English dialects around the world. Any American or Canadian accent perceived as free of noticeably local, ethnic, or cultural markers is popularly called
"General" or "Standard" American
, a fairly uniform
accent continuum
accent continuum
native to certain regions of the U.S. and associated nationally with broadcast mass media and highly educated speech. However, historical and present linguistic evidence does not support the notion of there being one single "mainstream" American accent. The sound of American English continues to evolve, with some local accents disappearing, but several larger regional accents having emerged in the 20th century.


History

The use of English in the United States is a result of
British colonization of the Americas The British colonization of the Americas was the history of establishment of control, settlement, and colonization of the continents of the Americas by England, Scotland and (after 1707) Great Britain. Colonization efforts began in the 17th ce ...

British colonization of the Americas
. The first wave of English-speaking settlers arrived in North America during the 17th century, followed by further migrations in the 18th and 19th centuries. During the 17th century, dialects from many different regions of England existed in every American colony, allowing a process of
extensive dialect mixture
extensive dialect mixture
and
leveling Levelling (British English) or leveling (American English; see spelling differences) is a branch of surveying, the object of which is to establish or verify or measure the height of specified points relative to a datum. It is widely used in geode ...

leveling
in which English varieties across the colonies became more homogeneous compared with varieties in England. English thus predominated in the colonies even by the end of the 17th century's first massive immigration of non-English speakers from Europe and Africa, and firsthand descriptions of a fairly uniform American English became common after the mid-18th century. Since then, American English has developed into some new varieties, including regional dialects that, in some cases, show minor influences in the last two centuries from successive waves of immigrant speakers of diverse languages, primarily European languages.


Phonology

Compared with English as spoken in the United Kingdom, North American English is more homogeneous and any phonologically unremarkable North American accent is known as "
General American General American English or General American (abbreviated GA or GenAm) is the umbrella accent of American English spoken by a majority of Americans and widely perceived, among Americans, as lacking any distinctly regional, ethnic, or socioeconom ...
". This section mostly refers to such General American features.


Conservative phonology

Studies on historical usage of English in both the United States and the United Kingdom suggest that spoken American English did not simply deviate away from period British English, but is
conservative Conservatism is a political and social philosophy promoting traditional social institutions. The central tenets of conservatism may vary in relation to the traditional values or practices of the culture and civilization in which it appears. I ...
in some ways, preserving certain features contemporary
British English British English (BrE) is the standard dialect of the English language as spoken and written in the United Kingdom. Variations exist in formal, written English in the United Kingdom. For example, the adjective ''wee'' is almost exclusively use ...
has since lost. * Full rhoticity (or R-fulness) is typical of American accents, pronouncing the phoneme (corresponding to the letter ) in all environments, including after vowels, such as in ''pearl'', ''car'', and ''court''. Non-rhotic American accents, those that do not pronounce except before a vowel, such as some Eastern New England,
New York New York most commonly refers to: * New York City, the most populous city in the United States, located in the state of New York * New York (state), a state in the Northeastern United States New York may also refer to: Film and television * ''Ne ...
, a specific few (often
older Older is the comparative form of "old". It may also refer to: Music: * ''Older'' (album), the third studio album from George Michael (released in 1996) ** "Older" (George Michael song) * "Older", a song on the 1999 album ''Long Tall Weekend'' by ...
)
Southern The name Southern may refer to: * South, a point in direction. * Southern (surname) Businesses * China Southern Airlines, airline based in Guangzhou, China * Southern Airways, defunct US airline * Southern Air, air cargo transportation company bas ...
, and African American vernacular accents, are often quickly noticed by General American listeners and perceived to sound especially ethnic, regional, or "old-fashioned". Rhoticity is common in most American accents although it is now rare in England because during the 17th-century British colonization, nearly all dialects of English were rhotic, and most North American English simply remained that way. The preservation of rhoticity in North America was also supported by continuing waves of rhotic-accented Scotch-Irish immigrants, most intensely during the 18th century and moderately during the following two centuries, when the Scotch-Irish eventually made up one seventh of the colonial population. Scotch-Irish settlers spread from Delaware and Pennsylvania throughout the larger Mid-Atlantic region, the inland regions of both the South and North and throughout the West, American dialect areas that a consistently resisted upper-class non-rhotic influences and that consequently remain rhotic today. The pronunciation of is a postalveolar approximant or
retroflex approximant The voiced retroflex approximant is a type of consonant used in some languages. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this sound is , and the equivalent X-SAMPA symbol is r\`. The IPA symbol is a turned lowercase letter ...
, but a unique "bunched tongue" variant of the approximant ''r'' sound is also associated with the United States and perhaps mostly in the Midwest and the South. American accents that have not undergone the ''cot–caught'' merger (the
lexical set A lexical set is a group of words that all fall under a single category based on some shared phonological feature. Wells Standard Lexical Sets for English The Standard Lexical Sets for English introduced by John C. Wells in ''Accents of English'' ...
s and ) have instead retained a – split: a 17th-century split in which certain words (labeled as the
lexical set A lexical set is a group of words that all fall under a single category based on some shared phonological feature. Wells Standard Lexical Sets for English The Standard Lexical Sets for English introduced by John C. Wells in ''Accents of English'' ...
) separated away from the set. The split, which has now reversed in most British English, simultaneously shifts this relatively recent set into a merger with the (''caught'') set. Having taken place prior to the unrounding of the ''cot'' vowel, it results in lengthening and perhaps raising, merging the more recently separated vowel into the vowel in the following environments: before many instances of , , and particularly (as in ''Austria, cloth, cost, loss, off, often,'' etc.), a few instances before (as in ''strong, long, wrong''), and variably by region or speaker in ''gone'', ''on'', and certain other words. The standard accent of southern England,
Received Pronunciation#REDIRECT Received Pronunciation#REDIRECT Received Pronunciation {{Redirect category shell|1= {{R from other capitalisation ...
{{Redirect category shell|1= {{R from other capitalisation ...
(RP), has evolved in other ways.
General American English General American English or General American (abbreviated GA or GenAm) is the umbrella accent of American English spoken by a majority of Americans and widely perceived, among Americans, as lacking any distinctly regional, ethnic, or socioeconom ...
has remained relatively more conservative, for example, regarding today's RP features of a '' trap–bath'' split and the fronting of , neither of which is typical of General American accents. Moreover, American dialects do not participate in
H-dropping H-dropping or aitch-dropping is the deletion of the voiceless glottal fricative or "H sound", . The phenomenon is common in many dialects of English, and is also found in certain other languages, either as a purely historical development or as a c ...

H-dropping
, an innovative feature that now characterizes perhaps a majority of the regional dialects of England.


Innovative phonology

However, General American is more innovative than the dialects of England or elsewhere in the world in a number of its own ways: * Unrounded : The American phenomenon of the vowel (often spelled in words like ''box, don, clock, notch, pot,'' etc.) being produced without rounded lips, like the vowel, allows ''father'' and ''bother'' to rhyme, the two vowels now unified as the single
phoneme In phonology and linguistics, a phoneme is a unit of sound that distinguishes one word from another in a particular language. For example, in most dialects of English, with the notable exception of the West Midlands and the north-west of Engl ...
. The ''father–bother'' vowel merger is in a transitional or completed stage in nearly all in North American English. Exceptions are in northeastern
New England English New England English collectively refers to the various distinct dialects and varieties of American English originating in the New England area. Most of eastern and central New England once spoke the "Yankee dialect", and many of those accent feat ...
, such as the
Boston accent A Boston accent is a local accent of Eastern New England English native specifically to the city of Boston and its suburbs. Northeastern New England English is classified as traditionally including New Hampshire, Maine, and all of eastern Massachu ...
, as well as variably in some
New York accent The sound system of New York City English is popularly known as the New York City accent. The New York City metropolitan accent is one of the most recognizable accents of the United States, largely due to its popular stereotypes and portrayal in r ...
s. * ''Cot–caught'' merger in transition: There is no single American way to pronounce the vowels in words like ''cot'' (the ''ah'' vowel) versus ''caught'' (the ''aw'' vowel), largely because of a merger occurring between the two sounds in some parts of North America, but not others. American speakers with a completed merger pronounce the two historically-separate vowels with the same sound (especially in the
West 250px|A compass rose with west highlighted in black West is one of the four cardinal directions or points of the compass. It is the opposite direction from east, and is the direction in which the sun sets. Etymology The word "west" is a Germanic ...
, northern
New England New England is a region comprising six states in the Northeastern United States: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont. It is bordered by the state of New York to the west and by the Canadian provinces of ...

New England
,
West Virginia West Virginia () is a state in the Appalachian, Mid-Atlantic and Southeastern regions of the United States.The Census Bureau and the Association of American Geographers classify West Virginia as part of the Southern United States while the Bure ...
,
western Pennsylvania Western Pennsylvania is a region in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania, covering the western third of the state. Pittsburgh is the region's principal city, with a metropolitan area population of about 2.4 million people, and serves as its economic an ...
, and the
Upper Midwest The Upper Midwest is a region in the northern portion of the U.S. Census Bureau's Midwestern United States. It is largely a sub-region of the Midwest. Although the exact boundaries are not uniformly agreed-upon, the region is defined as referring t ...
), but other speakers have no trace of a merger at all (especially in the
South South is one of the cardinal directions or compass points. South is the opposite of north and is perpendicular to the east and west. Etymology The word ''south'' comes from Old English ''sūþ'', from earlier Proto-Germanic ''*sunþaz'' ("south" ...
, the
Great Lakes region The Great Lakes region of North America is a bi-national Canadian–American region that includes portions of the eight U.S. states of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin as well as the Canadian prov ...
, southern
New England New England is a region comprising six states in the Northeastern United States: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont. It is bordered by the state of New York to the west and by the Canadian provinces of ...

New England
, and the Mid-Atlantic and
New York metropolitan area The New York metropolitan area is the largest metropolitan area in the world by urban landmass, at , and one of the most populous urban agglomerations in the world. The metropolitan area includes New York City (the most populous city in the Unit ...
s) and so pronounce each vowel with distinct sounds . Among speakers who distinguish between the two, the vowel of ''cot'' (usually transcribed in American English as ), is often a
central Central is an adjective usually referring to being in the center of some place or (mathematical) object. Central may also refer to: Directions and generalised locations * Central Africa, a region in the centre of Africa continent, also known as ...
or advanced
back The human back, also called the dorsum, is the large posterior area of the human body, rising from the top of the buttocks to the back of the neck. It is the surface of the body opposite from the chest and the abdomen. The vertebral column runs t ...
, while is pronounced with more rounded lips and/or phonetically higher in the mouth, close to or , but with only slight rounding. Among speakers who do not distinguish between them, thus producing a ''cot–caught'' merger, usually remains a back vowel, , sometimes showing lip rounding as . Therefore, even mainstream Americans vary greatly with this speech feature, with possibilities ranging from a full merger to no merger at all. A transitional stage of the merger is also common in scatterings throughout the United States, most consistently in the American Midlands lying between the historical dialect regions of the North and the South, while younger Americans in general tend to be transitioning toward the merger. According to a 2003 dialect survey carried out across the United States, about 61% of participants perceive themselves as keeping the two vowels distinct and 39% do not. A 2009 followup survey put the percentages at 58% non-merging speakers and 41% merging. * in special words: The vowel, rather than the one in or (as in Britain), is used in
function words In linguistics, function words (also called functors) are words that have little lexical meaning or have ambiguous meaning and express grammatical relationships among other words within a sentence, or specify the attitude or mood of the speaker. The ...
and certain other words like ''was, of, from, what, everybody, nobody, somebody, anybody'', and, for many speakers ''because'' and rarely even ''want'', when stressed. * Vowel mergers before intervocalic : The mergers of certain vowels before are typical throughout North America, the only exceptions existing primarily along the East Coast: ** ''Mary–marry–merry'' merger in transition: According to the 2003 dialect survey, nearly 57% of participants from around the country self-identified as merging the sounds (as in the first syllable of ''parish''), (as in the first syllable of ''perish''), and (as in ''pear'' or ''pair''). The merger is already complete everywhere except along some areas of the Atlantic Coast. ** ''Hurry–furry'' merger: The pre- vowels in words like ''hurry'' and ''furry'' are merged in most American accents to . Only 10% of American English speakers acknowledge the distinct ''hurry'' vowel before , according to the same dialect survey aforementioned. ** ''Mirror–nearer'' merger in transition: The pre- vowels in words like ''mirror'' and ''nearer'' are merged or very similar in most American accents. The quality of the historic ''mirror'' vowel in the word ''miracle'' is quite variable. *Americans vary slightly in their pronunciations of R-colored vowels such as those in and , which sometimes monophthongizes towards and or tensing towards and respectively. That causes pronunciations like for ''pair''/''pear'' and for ''peer''/''pier''. Also, is often reduced to , so that ''cure'', ''pure'', and ''mature'' may all end with the sound , thus rhyming with ''blur'' and ''sir''. The word ''sure'' is also part of the rhyming set as it is commonly pronounced . *
Yod-dropping The phonological history of the English language includes various changes in the phonology of consonant clusters. H-cluster reductions The H-cluster reductions are various consonant reductions that have occurred in the history of English, invol ...
: Dropping of after a consonant is much more extensive than in most of England. In most North American accents, is "dropped" or "deleted" after all alveolar and interdental consonants (everywhere except after /p/, /b/, /f/, /h/, /k/, and /m/) and so ''new, duke, Tuesday, assume'' are pronounced , , , (compare with Standard British , , , ). *
T-glottalization In English phonology, ''t''-glottalization or ''t''-glottalling is a sound change in certain English dialects and accents that causes the phoneme to be pronounced as the glottal stop in certain positions. It is never universal, especially in c ...
: is normally pronounced as a
glottal stop#REDIRECT Glottal stop {{Redirect category shell|1= {{R from other capitalisation ...
when both after a vowel or a
liquid A liquid is a nearly incompressible fluid that conforms to the shape of its container but retains a (nearly) constant volume independent of pressure. As such, it is one of the four fundamental states of matter (the others being solid, gas, and ...
and before a syllabic or any non-syllabic consonant, as in ''button'' or ''fruitcake'' . In absolute final position after a vowel or liquid, is also replaced by, or simultaneously articulated with, glottal constriction: thus, ''what'' or ''fruit'' . (This innovation of /t/ glottal stopping may occur in British English as well and variably between vowels.) *
Flapping Flapping or tapping, also known as alveolar flapping, intervocalic flapping, or ''t''-voicing, is a phonological process found in many varieties of English, especially North American, Ulster, Australian and New Zealand English, whereby the voicel ...
: or becomes a
flap Flap may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media * ''Flap'' (film), a 1970 American film * Flap, a boss character in the arcade game ''Gaiapolis'' * Flap, a minor character in the film ''Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland'' Biology and healt ...
both after a vowel or and before an unstressed vowel or a syllabic consonant other than , including ''water'' , ''party'' and ''model'' . This results in pairs such as ''ladder/latter, metal/medal,'' and ''coating/coding'' being pronounced the same. Flapping of or before a full stressed vowel is also possible but only if that vowel begins a new word or morpheme, as in ''what is it?'' and twice in ''not at all'' . Other rules apply to flapping to such a complex degree in fact that flapping has been analyzed as being required in certain contexts, prohibited in others, and optional in still others. For instance, flapping is prohibited in words like ''seduce'' , ''retail'' , and ''monotone'' , yet optional in ''impotence'' . *Both intervocalic and may commonly be realized as (a nasalized
alveolar flap The voiced alveolar tap or flap is a type of consonantal sound, used in some spoken languages. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents a dental, alveolar, or postalveolar tap or flap is . The terms ''tap'' and ''flap'' are ...
) or simply , making ''winter'' and ''winner'' homophones in fast or informal speech. * L-velarization: England's typical distinction between a "clear L" (i.e. ) and a "dark L" (i.e. ) is much less noticeable in nearly all dialects of American English; it is often altogether absent, with all "L" sounds tending to be "dark," meaning having some degree of
velarization Velarization is a secondary articulation of consonants by which the back of the tongue is raised toward the velum during the articulation of the consonant. In the International Phonetic Alphabet, velarization is transcribed by one of four diacr ...
, perhaps even as dark as (though in initial position, perhaps less dark than elsewhere among some speakers). The only notable exceptions to this velarization are in some Spanish-influenced American English varieties (such as East Coast Latino English, which typically shows a clear "L" in
syllable onset A syllable is a unit of organization for a sequence of speech sounds. It is typically made up of a syllable nucleus (most often a vowel) with optional initial and final margins (typically, consonants). Syllables are often considered the phonologic ...
s) and in older, moribund Southern speech, where "L" is clear in an
intervocalic In phonetics and phonology, an intervocalic consonant is a consonant that occurs between two vowels. Intervocalic consonants are often associated with lenition, a phonetic process that causes consonants to weaken and eventually disappear entirely. ...
environment between
front vowel A front vowel is a class of vowel sounds used in some spoken languages, its defining characteristic being that the highest point of the tongue is positioned relatively in front in the mouth without creating a constriction that would make it a cons ...
s. * Weak-vowel merger: The vowel in unstressed syllables generally merges with and so ''effect'' is pronounced like ''affect'', and ''abbot'' and ''rabbit'' rhyme. The quality of the merged vowels varies considerably but is typically closer to in word-initial or word-final position, and closer to elsewhere. * Raising of pre-voiceless : Many speakers split the sound based on whether it occurs before a voiceless consonant and so in ''rider'', it is pronounced , but in ''writer'', it is raised to (because is a voiceless consonant while is not). Thus, words like ''bright, hike, price, wipe,'' etc. with a following voiceless consonant (such as ) use a more raised vowel sound compared to ''bride, high, prize, wide'', etc. Because of this sound change, the words ''rider'' and ''writer'' , for instance, remain distinct from one another by virtue of their difference in height (and length) of the diphthong's starting point (unrelated to both the letters ''d'' and ''t'' being pronounced in these words as alveolar flaps ). The sound-change also applies across word boundaries, though the position of a word or phrase's stress may prevent the raising from taking place. For instance, a ''high school'' in the sense of "secondary school" is generally pronounced ; however, a ''high school'' in the literal sense of "a tall school" would be pronounced . The
sound change A sound change, in historical linguistics, is a change in the pronunciation of a language over time. A sound change can involve the replacement of one speech sound (or, more generally, one phonetic feature value) by a different one (called phone ...
began in the Northern,
New England New England is a region comprising six states in the Northeastern United States: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont. It is bordered by the state of New York to the west and by the Canadian provinces of ...
, and Mid-Atlantic regions of the country, and is becoming more common across the nation. *Many speakers in the
Inland North Inland Northern (American) English, also known in American linguistics as the Inland North or Great Lakes dialect, is an American English dialect spoken primarily by White Americans in a geographic band reaching from the major urban areas of Upsta ...
, [[North Central American English|Upper Midwestern, and [[Philadelphia English|Philadelphia dialect areas raise before voiced consonants in certain words as well, particularly , and . Hence, words like ''tiny'', ''spider'', ''cider'', ''tiger'', ''dinosaur'', ''beside'', ''idle'' (but sometimes not ''idol''), and ''fire'' may contain a raised nucleus. The use of , rather than , in such words is unpredictable from phonetic environment alone, but it may have to do with their acoustic similarity to other words that with before a voiceless consonant, per the traditional Canadian-raising system. Some researchers have argued that there has been a [[phonemic split in those dialects, and the distribution of the two sounds is becoming more unpredictable among younger speakers. * Conditioned [[/æ/ raising (especially before and ): The raising of the or vowel occurs in specific environments that vary widely from region to region but most commonly before and . With most American speakers for whom the phoneme operates under a somewhat-continuous system, has both a tense and a lax [[allophone (with a kind of "continuum" of possible sounds between both extremes, rather than a definitive split). In those accents, is overall realized before [[nasal stops as more tense (approximately ), while other environments are more lax (approximately the standard ); for example, note the vowel sound in for ''mass'', but for ''man''). In some American accents, however, specifically those from [[Baltimore, [[Philadelphia, and [[New York City, and are indeed entirely-separate (or "split") phonemes, for example, in ''planet'' vs. ''plan it'' . They are called Mid-Atlantic [[/æ/#Phonemic tensing|split-''a'' systems. The vowels move in the opposite direction (high and forward) in the mouth compared to the backed Standard British "[[broad a|broad ''a''", but both ''a'' systems are probably related phonologically, if not phonetically, since a British-like phenomenon occurs among some older speakers of the eastern New England (Boston) area for whom changes to before alone or when preceded by a [[homorganic nasal. * [[Mergers of /ɒr-/ and /ɔːr-/|"Short ''o''" before ''r'' before a vowel: In typical North American accents (both U.S. and Canada), the historical sequence (a short ''o'' sound followed by ''r'' and then another vowel, as in ''orange'', ''forest'', ''moral'', and ''warrant'') is realized as , thus further merging with the already-merged ([[horse–hoarse merger|''horse''–''hoarse'') set. In the U.S., four words (''tomow, sy, sow, bow,'' and ''mow'') usually contain the sound instead and thus merge with the set (thus, ''sorry'' and ''[[sari'' become [[homophones, both rhyming with ''starry''). Some mergers found in most varieties of both American and British English include the following: * [[Horse–hoarse merger|''Horse–hoarse'' merger: This merger makes the vowels and before homophones, with homophonous pairs like ''horse/hoarse, corps/core, for/four, morning/mourning, war/wore,'' etc. [[homophones. Many older varieties of American English still keep the sets of words distinct, particularly in the extreme Northeast, the South (especially along the Gulf Coast), and the central Midlands, but the merger is evidently spreading and younger Americans rarely show it. * [[Wine–whine merger|''Wine–whine'' merger: This produces pairs like ''wine/whine, wet/whet, Wales/whales, wear/where,'' etc. [[homophones, in most cases eliminating , also transcribed , the [[voiceless labiovelar fricative. However, scatterings of older speakers who do not merge these pairs still exist nationwide, perhaps most strongly in the South.


Vocabulary

The process of coining new lexical items started as soon as English-speaking British-American colonists began borrowing names for unfamiliar flora, fauna, and topography from the [[Native American languages. Examples of such names are ''[[Virginia opossum|opossum, [[raccoon, [[squash (fruit)|squash'', ''[[moose'' (from [[Algonquian languages|Algonquian), ''[[wigwam'', and ''[[moccasin''. The languages of the other colonizing nations also added to the American vocabulary; for instance, ''[[cookie'', from [[Dutch Language|Dutch; ''[[kindergarten'' from [[German language|German, ''[[levee'' from [[French language|French; and ''[[rodeo'' from [[Spanish language|Spanish. Landscape features are often loanwords from French or Spanish, and the word ''[[wikt:corn|corn'', used in England to refer to wheat (or any cereal), came to denote the [[maize plant, the [[Corn production in the United States|most important crop in the U.S. Most [[Mexican Spanish contributions came after the [[War of 1812, with the opening of the West, like ''[[ranch'' (now a common [[ranch house|house style). Due to Mexican culinary influence, many Spanish words are incorporated in general use when talking about certain popular dishes: cilantro (instead of coriander), queso, tacos, quesadillas, enchiladas, tostadas, fajitas, burritos, and guacamole. These words usually lack an English equivalent and are found in popular restaurants. New forms of dwelling created new terms ''([[Land lot|lot, waterfront)'' and types of homes like ''[[log cabin, [[adobe'' in the 18th century; ''[[apartment, [[Wikt:shanty|shanty'' in the 19th century; ''project, [[condominium, [[townhouse, [[mobile home'' in the 20th century; and parts thereof ''([[driveway, breezeway, [[backyard)''. Industry and material innovations from the 19th century onwards provide distinctive new words, phrases, and idioms through [[railroading (see further at [[rail terminology) and [[transportation terminology, ranging from types of roads (''dirt roads'', ''[[freeways'') to infrastructure ''([[parking lot, [[overpass, [[rest area),'' to automotive terminology often now standard in English internationally. Already existing English words—such as ''[[General store|store, [[Retailing|shop, [[lumber''—underwent shifts in meaning; others remained in the U.S. while changing in Britain. Science, urbanization, and democracy have been important factors in bringing about changes in the written and spoken language of the United States. From the world of business and finance came new terms (''[[merger, [[downsize, [[Net income|bottom line''), from sports and gambling terminology came, specific jargon aside, common everyday American idioms, including [[English language idioms derived from baseball|many idioms related to baseball. The names of some American inventions remained largely confined to North America (''[[elevator, [[gasoline'') as did certain automotive terms (''[[truck'', ''[[Trunk (car)|trunk''). New foreign loanwords came with 19th and early 20th century European immigration to the U.S.; notably, from [[Yiddish language|Yiddish ''([[chutzpah, schmooze'') and [[German language|German (''[[hamburger, [[Hot dog|wiener''). A large number of English colloquialisms from various periods are American in origin; some have lost their American flavor (from ''[[OK'' and ''cool'' to ''[[nerd'' and ''[[24/7),'' while others have not ''([[have a nice day, for sure);'' many are now distinctly old-fashioned ''(swell, groovy).'' Some English words now in general use, such as ''hijacking, [[disc jockey, boost, bulldoze'' and ''[[jazz,'' originated as American slang. American English has always shown a marked tendency to [[Anthimeria|use words in different parts of speech and nouns are [[functional shift|often used as verbs. Examples of nouns that are now also verbs are ''interview, advocate, vacuum, lobby, pressure, rear-end, transition, feature, profile, hashtag, head, divorce, loan, estimate, X-ray, spearhead, skyrocket, showcase, bad-mouth, [[vacation, major,'' and many others. [[Compound (linguistics)|Compounds coined in the U.S. are for instance ''[[foothill, [[landslide'' (in all senses), ''[[Wikt:backdrop|backdrop, [[teenager,'' [[brainstorming|brainstorm, [[Wikt:bandwagon|bandwagon, [[hitchhike, smalltime, and a huge number of others. Other compound words have been founded based on industrialization and the wave of the automobile: five-passenger car, four-door sedan, two-door sedan, and station-wagon (called an estate car in England). Some are euphemistic ''([[human resources, [[affirmative action, [[correctional facility).'' Many compound nouns have the verb-and-preposition combination: ''stopover, lineup, tryout, spin-off, [[shootout, holdup, hideout, comeback, [[makeover,'' and many more. Some prepositional and [[phrasal verbs are in fact of American origin (''win out, hold up, back up/off/down/out, face up to'' and many others). Noun endings such as ''-ee (retiree), -ery (bakery), -ster (gangster)'' and ''-cian (beautician)'' are also particularly productive in the U.S. Several verbs ending in ''-ize'' are of U.S. origin; for example, ''fetishize, prioritize, burglarize, accessorize, [[weatherization|weatherize,'' etc.; and so are some [[back-formations ''(locate, fine-tune, curate, donate, emote, upholster'' and ''enthuse).'' Among syntactical constructions that arose are ''outside of, headed for, meet up with, back of,'' etc. Americanisms formed by alteration of some existing words include notably ''pesky, phony, rambunctious, buddy, [[sundae, skeeter, sashay'' and ''kitty-corner.'' Adjectives that arose in the U.S. are, for example, ''lengthy, bossy, [[cuteness|cute'' and ''cutesy, punk'' (in all senses), ''sticky'' (of the weather), ''through'' (as in "finished"), and many colloquial forms such as ''peppy'' or ''wacky''. A number of words and meanings that originated in [[Middle English or [[Early Modern English and that have been in everyday use in the United States have since disappeared in most varieties of British English; some of these have cognates in [[Scottish Lowlands|Lowland Scots. Terms such as ''[[autumn|fall'' ("autumn"), ''[[faucet'' ("tap"), ''[[diaper'' ("nappy"; itself unused in the U.S.), ''[[candy'' ("sweets"), ''[[Frying pan|skillet'', ''[[eyeglasses'', and ''[[obligate'' are often regarded as Americanisms. ''Fall'' for example came to denote the season in 16th century England, a contraction of Middle English expressions like "fall of the leaf" and "fall of the year." ''Gotten'' ([[past participle of ''get'') is often considered to be largely an Americanism. Other words and meanings were brought back to Britain from the U.S., especially in the second half of the 20th century; these include ''hire'' ("to employ"), ''I guess'' (famously criticized by [[H. W. Fowler), ''[[baggage'', ''hit'' (a place), and the adverbs ''overly'' and ''presently'' ("currently"). Some of these, for example, ''[[monkey wrench'' and ''[[wastebasket'', originated in 19th century Britain. The adjectives ''mad'' meaning "angry," ''smart'' meaning "intelligent," and ''sick'' meaning "ill" are also more frequent in American (and Irish) English than British English. Linguist [[Bert Vaux created a survey, completed in 2003, polling English speakers across the United States about their specific everyday word choices, hoping to identify regionalisms. The study found that most Americans prefer the term ''sub'' for a long sandwich, ''soda'' (but ''pop'' in the Great Lakes region and generic ''coke'' in the South) for a sweet and bubbly [[soft drink, ''you'' or ''you guys'' for the plural of ''you'' (but ''y'all'' in the South), ''[[sneakers'' for athletic shoes (but often ''tennis shoes'' outside the Northeast), and ''[[shopping cart'' for a cart used for carrying supermarket goods.


Grammatical and other differences between American and British English

American English and
British English British English (BrE) is the standard dialect of the English language as spoken and written in the United Kingdom. Variations exist in formal, written English in the United Kingdom. For example, the adjective ''wee'' is almost exclusively use ...
(BrE) often differ at the levels of phonology, phonetics, vocabulary, and, to a much lesser extent, grammar and orthography. The first large American dictionary, ''An American Dictionary of the English Language'', known as [[Webster's Dictionary, was written by [[Noah Webster in 1828, codifying several of these spellings. Differences in grammar are relatively minor, and do not normally affect mutual intelligibility; these include: typically a lack of differentiation between adjectives and adverbs, employing the equivalent adjectives as adverbs ''he ran quick''/''he ran quickly''; different use of some [[auxiliary verbs; formal (rather than notional) agreement with [[collective nouns; different preferences for the past forms of a few verbs (for example, AmE/BrE: ''learned''/''learnt'', ''burned''/''burnt'', ''snuck/sneaked'', ''dove/dived'') although the purportedly "British" forms can occasionally be seen in American English writing as well; different prepositions and adverbs in certain contexts (for example, AmE ''in school,'' BrE ''at school''); and whether or not a definite article is used, in very few cases (AmE ''to the hospital'', BrE ''to hospital''; contrast, however, AmE ''actress Elizabeth Taylor'', BrE ''the actress Elizabeth Taylor''). Often, these differences are a matter of relative preferences rather than absolute rules; and most are not stable since the two varieties are constantly influencing each other, and American English is not a standardized set of dialects. Differences in [[orthography are also minor. The main differences are that American English usually uses spellings such as ''flavor'' for British ''flavour'', ''fiber'' for ''fibre'', ''defense'' for ''defence'', ''analyze'' for ''analyse'', ''license'' for ''licence'', ''catalog'' for ''catalogue'' and ''traveling'' for ''travelling''. [[Noah Webster popularized such spellings in America, but he did not invent most of them. Rather, "he chose already existing options on such grounds as simplicity, analogy or etymology." Other differences are due to the [[francophile tastes of the 19th century [[Victorian era Britain (for example they preferred ''programme'' for ''program'', ''manoeuvre'' for ''maneuver'', ''cheque'' for ''check'', etc.). AmE almost always uses ''-ize'' in words like ''realize''. BrE prefers ''-ise'', but also uses ''-ize'' on occasion (see [[Oxford spelling). There are a few differences in punctuation rules. British English is more tolerant of [[run-on sentences, called "[[comma splices" in American English, and American English requires that periods and commas be placed inside closing quotation marks even in cases in which British rules would place them outside. American English also favors the double quotation mark ("like this") over single ('as here'). Vocabulary differences vary by region. For example, autumn is used more commonly in the United Kingdom, whereas fall is more common in American English. Some other differences include: aerial (United Kingdom) vs. antenna, biscuit (United Kingdom) vs. cookie/cracker, car park (United Kingdom) vs. parking lot, caravan (United Kingdom) vs. trailer, city centre (United Kingdom) vs. downtown, flat (United Kingdom) vs. apartment, fringe (United Kingdom) vs. bangs, and holiday (United Kingdom) vs. vacation. AmE sometimes favors words that are [[Morphology (linguistics)|morphologically more complex, whereas BrE uses clipped forms, such as AmE ''transportation'' and BrE ''transport'' or where the British form is a [[back-formation, such as AmE ''burglarize'' and BrE ''burgle'' (from ''burglar''). However, while individuals usually use one or the other, both forms will be widely understood and mostly used alongside each other within the two systems.


Varieties

While written American English is largely standardized across the country and spoken American English dialects are highly mutually intelligible, there are still several recognizable regional and ethnic accents and lexical distinctions.


Regional accents

The regional sounds of present-day American English are reportedly engaged in a complex phenomenon of "both convergence and divergence": some accents are homogenizing and [[accent leveling|leveling, while others are diversifying and deviating further away from one another. Having been settled longer than the American West Coast, the East Coast has had more time to develop unique accents, and it currently comprises three or four linguistically significant regions, each of which possesses English varieties both different from each other as well as quite internally diverse:
New England New England is a region comprising six states in the Northeastern United States: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont. It is bordered by the state of New York to the west and by the Canadian provinces of ...

New England
, the [[Mid-Atlantic States (including a
New York accent The sound system of New York City English is popularly known as the New York City accent. The New York City metropolitan accent is one of the most recognizable accents of the United States, largely due to its popular stereotypes and portrayal in r ...
as well as a unique [[Mid-Atlantic American English|Philadelphia–Baltimore accent), and the [[Southern United States|South. As of the twentieth century, the middle and eastern [[Great Lakes area, Chicago being the largest city with these speakers, also ushered in certain unique features, including the [[fronting (phonetics)|fronting of the vowel in the mouth toward and tensing of the vowel wholesale to . These sound changes have triggered a series of other [[vowel shifts in the same region, known by linguists as the "[[Inland North". The Inland North shares with the [[Eastern New England English|Eastern New England dialect (including
Boston accent A Boston accent is a local accent of Eastern New England English native specifically to the city of Boston and its suburbs. Northeastern New England English is classified as traditionally including New Hampshire, Maine, and all of eastern Massachu ...
s) a [[back vowel|backer tongue positioning of the vowel (to ) and the vowel (to ) in comparison to the rest of the country. Ranging from northern New England across the Great Lakes to Minnesota, another Northern regional marker is the variable fronting of before , for example appearing four times in the stereotypical Boston [[shibboleth ''Park the car in Harvard Yard''. Several other phenomena serve to distinguish regional U.S. accents. Boston, [[Western Pennsylvania English|Pittsburgh, [[North-Central American English|Upper Midwestern, and [[Western American English|Western U.S. accents have fully completed a merger of the vowel with the vowel ( and , respectively): a [[cot–caught merger|''cot–caught'' merger, which is rapidly spreading throughout the whole country. However, the South, Inland North, and a Northeastern coastal corridor passing through Rhode Island, New York City, Philadelphia, and Baltimore typically preserve an older ''cot–caught'' distinction. For that Northeastern corridor, the realization of the vowel is particularly [[markedness|marked, as depicted in humorous spellings, like in ''tawk'' and ''cawfee'' (''talk'' and ''coffee''), which intend to represent it being [[tenseness|tense and [[diphthongal: . A [[æ tensing|split of into two separate
phoneme In phonology and linguistics, a phoneme is a unit of sound that distinguishes one word from another in a particular language. For example, in most dialects of English, with the notable exception of the West Midlands and the north-west of Engl ...
s, using different ''a'' pronunciations for example in ''gap'' versus ''gas'' , further defines New York City as well as Philadelphia–Baltimore accents. Most Americans preserve all historical sounds, using what is known as a [[Rhoticity in English|rhotic accent. The only traditionally ''r''-dropping (or non-rhotic) regional U.S. accents are spoken in [[Eastern New England English|eastern New England, [[New York City English|New York City variably, and some of the [[older Southern American English|former plantation South primarily among older speakers (and consequently [[African-American Vernacular English variably across the country), though the vowel-consonant cluster found in "bird," "work," "hurt," "learn," etc. usually retains its ''r'' pronunciation, even in these non-rhotic American accents. Non-rhoticity among such speakers is presumed to have arisen from their upper classes' close historical contact with [[England, imitating London's ''r''-dropping, a feature that has continued to gain prestige throughout England from the late 18th century onwards, but which has conversely lost prestige in the U.S. since at least the early 20th century. Non-rhoticity makes a word like ''car'' sound like ''cah'' or ''source'' like ''sauce''. New York City and [[Southern American English|Southern accents are the most prominent regional accents of the country, as well as the most stigmatized in terms of [[perceptual dialectology|perceived "incorrectness". Southern speech, strongest in southern Appalachia and certain areas of Texas, is often identified by Americans as a "country" accent,Hayes, 2013, p. 51. and is defined by the vowel losing its [[diphthong|gliding quality: , the initiation event for a complicated Southern vowel shift, including a "[[Southern drawl" that makes short
front vowel A front vowel is a class of vowel sounds used in some spoken languages, its defining characteristic being that the highest point of the tongue is positioned relatively in front in the mouth without creating a constriction that would make it a cons ...
s into distinct-sounding [[gliding vowels. The fronting of the vowels of , , , and tends to also define Southern accents as well as the accents spoken in the "[[Midland American English|Midland": a vast band of the country that constitutes an intermediate dialect region between the traditional North and South. Western U.S. accents mostly fall under the
General American General American English or General American (abbreviated GA or GenAm) is the umbrella accent of American English spoken by a majority of Americans and widely perceived, among Americans, as lacking any distinctly regional, ethnic, or socioeconom ...
spectrum. Below, ten major American English accents are defined by their particular combinations of certain vowel sounds:


General American

In 2010, [[William Labov noted that Great Lakes, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and West Coast accents have undergone "vigorous new sound changes" since the mid-nineteenth century onwards, so they "are now more different from each other than they were 50 or 100 years ago", while other accents, like of New York City and Boston, have remained stable in that same time-frame. However, a
General American General American English or General American (abbreviated GA or GenAm) is the umbrella accent of American English spoken by a majority of Americans and widely perceived, among Americans, as lacking any distinctly regional, ethnic, or socioeconom ...
sound system also has some debated degree of influence nationwide, for example, gradually beginning to oust the regional accent in urban areas of the South and at least some in the Inland North. Rather than one particular accent, General American is best defined as an umbrella covering an American accent that does not incorporate features associated with some particular region, ethnicity, or socioeconomic group. Typical General American features include [[rhoticity in English|rhoticity, the [[father–bother merger|''father–bother'' merger, [[Mary–marry–merry merger|''Mary–marry–merry'' merger, [[/æ/ tensing|pre-nasal "short ''a''" tensing, and other [[General American#Phonology|particular vowel sounds. General American features are embraced most by Americans who are highly educated or in the most formal contexts, and regional accents with the most General American native features include North Midland, Western New England, and Western accents.


Other varieties

Although no longer region-specific, [[African-American Vernacular English, which remains the native variety of most working- and middle-class [[African Americans, has a close relationship to Southern dialects and has greatly influenced everyday speech of many Americans, including [[hip hop culture. [[Hispanic and Latino Americans have also developed native-speaker varieties of English. The best-studied Latino Englishes are [[Chicano English, spoken in the West and Midwest, and [[New York Latino English, spoken in the
New York metropolitan area The New York metropolitan area is the largest metropolitan area in the world by urban landmass, at , and one of the most populous urban agglomerations in the world. The metropolitan area includes New York City (the most populous city in the Unit ...
. Additionally, ethnic varieties such as [[Yeshivish|Yeshiva English and "[[Yinglish" are spoken by some [[American Jews|American [[Orthodox Jews, [[Cajun English|Cajun Vernacular English by some [[Cajuns in southern Louisiana, and [[Pennsylvania Dutch English by some bilingual [[Pennsylvania Dutch speakers. [[American Indian Englishes have been documented among diverse Indian tribes. The island state of [[Hawaii, though primarily English-speaking, is also home to a [[creole language known commonly as [[Hawaiian Pidgin, and some Hawaii residents speak English with a Pidgin-influenced accent. American English also gave rise to some dialects outside the country, for example, [[Philippine English, beginning during the [[United States Military Government of the Philippine Islands|American occupation of the Philippines and subsequently the [[Insular Government of the Philippine Islands; [[Thomasites first established a variation of American English in these islands.


See also

* [[Dictionary of American Regional English * [[List of English words from indigenous languages of the Americas * [[International Phonetic Alphabet chart for English dialects * [[Help:IPA/English|International Phonetic Alphabet chart for the English Language * [[Phonological history of English * [[Regional accents of English * [[Canadian English * [[North American English * [[International English *
Received Pronunciation#REDIRECT Received Pronunciation#REDIRECT Received Pronunciation {{Redirect category shell|1= {{R from other capitalisation ...
{{Redirect category shell|1= {{R from other capitalisation ...
* [[Mid-Atlantic accent|Transatlantic accent * [[American and British English spelling differences


Notes


References


Bibliography

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


Further reading

* [[Richard W. Bailey|Bailey, Richard W. (2012). ''Speaking American: A History of English in the United States'' 20th–21st-century usage in different cities * * [[Bryan A. Garner|Garner, Bryan A. (2003). ''Garner's Modern American Usage''. New York: Oxford University Press. * ;History of American English * Bailey, Richard W. (2004). "American English: Its origins and history". In E. Finegan & J. R. Rickford (Eds.), ''Language in the USA: Themes for the twenty-first century'' (pp. 3–17). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. * Finegan, Edward. (2006). "English in North America". In R. Hogg & D. Denison (Eds.), ''A history of the English language'' (pp. 384–419). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


External links


Do You Speak American
PBS special

of the United States, by Bert Vaux ''et al.'', [[Harvard University.
Linguistic Atlas Projects


at the [[University of Pennsylvania
Speech Accent Archive

Dictionary of American Regional English

Dialect maps based on pronunciation
{{Authority control [[Category:American English| [[Category:Dialects of English [[Category:North American English [[Category:Languages attested from the 17th century [[Category:17th-century establishments in North America