Лекция: The Grammar System of American English


Here we are likely to find even fewer divergencies than in the vocabulary system.

The first distinctive feature is the use of the auxiliary verb will in the first person singular and plural of the Future Indefinite Tense, in contrast to the British normative shall. The American I will go there does not imply modality, as in the similar British utterance (where it will mean «I am willing to go there»), but pure futurity. The British-English Future Indefinite shows the same tendency of substituting will for shall in the first person singular and plural.

The second distinctive feature consists in a tendency to substitute the Past Indefinite Tense for the Present Perfect Tense, especially in oral communication. An American is likely to say I saw this movie where an Englishman will probably say I've seen this film, though, with the mutual penetration of both varieties, it is sometimes difficult to predict what Americanisms one is likely to hear on the British Isles. Even more so with the substitution of the Past Indefinite for the Present Perfect which is also rather typical of some English dialects.

Just as American usage has retained the old meanings of some English words (fall, guess, sick), it has also retained the old form of the Past Participle of the verb to get: to get — got — gotten (cf. the British got).

That is practically the whole story as far as divergencies in grammar of American English and British English are concerned.

The grammatical system of both varieties is actually the same, with very few exceptions.


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American English is marked by certain phonetic peculiarities. Yet, these consist in the way some words are pronounced and in the intonation patterns. The system of phonemes is the same as in British English, with the exception of the American retroflexive [r]-sound, and the labialized [h] in such words as what, why, white, wheel, etc.

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All this brings us to the inevitable conclusion that the language spoken in the United States of America is, in all essential features, identical with that spoken in Great Britain. The grammar systems are fully identical. The American vocabulary is marked by certain peculiarities which are not sufficiently numerous or pronounced to justify the claims that there exists an independent American language. The language spoken in the United States can be regarded as a regional variety of English.

Canadian, Australian and Indian (that is, the English spoken in India) can also be considered regional varieties of English with their own peculiarities.



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