2. Differences Between AmE and BrE
Tottie (2002) explains how grammar, as opposed to vocabulary, does not have to change in order to reflect a changing reality. When new vocabulary is coined and borrowed in response to new circumstances and new phenomena, the changes in grammar have been relatively few even though there are differences between AmE and BrE. The grammatical examples which are normally given are general and not exclusive for either BrE or AmE, thus variations in dialects and circumstantial use, for instance in conversation, fiction, academic writing etc., might differ in terms of their construction of grammatical features.
Modiano (1996) states that most observers of the English language recognize the differences between AmE and BrE to be found in pronunciation, vocabulary and spelling. However, while punctuation seems to be insignificant, grammatical and stylistic differences are more extensive and important than most observers initially recognize. Some structures might be accepted in one variety of English while it is considered ungrammatical in the other, although such grammatical differences rarely impede communication. Seemingly minor differences do not cause disruptions, but these features are interlinked with the synthesis of lexical choices, pronunciation, spelling etc., which allows communication to proceed without misunderstandings.
Tottie (2002) explains how indefinite articles are used depending on whether it is followed by a vowel sound or a consonant sound, as in a dog, an apple. However, in informal AmE, the indefinite article ‘an’ is replaced with the phoneme /?/ as in a orange, a area, due to the influence of Black English where it is used frequently. Definite article usage differs between AmE and BrE. AmE uses the definite article to a greater extent than BrE, as in university and hospital.
AmEMy son is at the university
BrEMy son is at university
AmEFred is in the hospital
BrEFred is in hospital
(Tottie, 2002, p. 148)
Modiano (1996) gives examples of phrases which require a definite article in AmE, but are used without a determiner in BrE; onto grounds (BrE), onto the grounds (AmE), members of staff (BrE), members of the staff (AmE), on average (BrE), on the average (AmE). There are constructions in which BrE has a definite article, as in in the light of these developments, while AmE does not, as in in light of these developments, although both constructions are accepted in AmE (p. 126).
Tottie (2002) gives the general rule for how the s-genitive is used in both AmE and BrE. The rule of thumb is that animate nouns, particular in the singular, are constructed with the s- genitive, as in the girl’s parents, while other nouns are constructed with the of-construction, as in the color of my car. However, in recent years there has been a noticeable change in the use of s-genitive in AmE. The development has shown that abstract nouns, such as swimming and jumping, get the s-genitive as well as in the following examples of an English newspaper (Hundt 1997:40):
AmEAnita Nall and Summer Sanders – swimming’s “New Kids on the Block” AmEShow jumping’s prize money doesn’t yet approach golf or tennis . . .
Tottie (2002) explains how number sometimes varies between AmE and BrE. For instance, AmE speakers tend to prefer the plural form accommodations while BrE speakers use the singular form accommodation; conversely, AmE speakers say math while BrE speakers say maths. Noun-noun compounds represent the largest of all categories of new words and a difference in number can be distinguished there as well. In AmE the first noun is generally in singular, as in drug problem, trade union, road policy, chemical plant. In BrE the first noun is sometimes in plural, as in drugs problem, trades union, roads policy, chemicals plant.
Tottie (2002) explains the differences in verb morphology between AmE and BrE. With regular verbs the dental suffix is normally realized as t after a voiceless consonant, as in stopped, as d after a voiced consonant, as in mailed, and as ? d after a dental consonant, as in ended and wanted. There are features of both endings in both AmE and BrE.
Modiano (1996) acknowledges the differences in verb forms as perhaps the most significant dissimilarity between AmE and BrE. A number of BrE verbs have a t-inflection while AmE verbs tend to conform to the standardized –ed structure. These differences constitute a subtle distinction in pronunciation which often goes unnoticed in pronunciation, but indicates in which English a text is written. It is worth mentioning that many AmE conjugations are considered Standard English in BrE, thus both versions are accepted as correct.
burn, burnedburn, burnt
dwell, dwelleddwell, dwelt
get, gottenget, got
learn, learnedlearn, learnt
smell, smelledsmell, smelt
spell, spelledspell, spelt
spill, spilledspill, spilt spoil, spoiledspoil, spoilt
(Modiano, 1996,p. 125)
Tottie (2002) shows another class of verbs that are being used with the same pronunciation and spelling patterns. Verbs such as dream, lean, kneel and leap all have a long stem vowel which affects the pronunciation pattern in the past tense ending, especially in AmE where dreamed usually is pronounced drimd. Thus verbs as such, with a stem vowel, in past tense in AmE are pronounced with an i followed by a d, while in BrE it is pronounced with an e followed by a t.
AmE with i and dBrE with e and t Dream dreamed dreamedDream dreamt dreamt Kneel kneeled kneeledKneel knelt knelt
Lean leaned leanedLean leant leant Leap leaped leapedLeap leapt leapt
Tottie, 2002, p. 151
Modiano (1996) calls attention to the divergences of prepositions, for example, in BrE ‘the restaurant is in the High Road’ and ‘he was in Paris at the weekend’ while in AmE ‘the restaurant is on the Main Street’ and ‘he was in Paris on the weekend’. Both BrE constructions are considered peculiar in AmE. Sometimes the contrast can be even more striking, as in BrE ‘fill in a form’ and in AmE ‘fill out a form’.
Tottie (2002) explains how the same prepositions sometimes take different forms in AmE and BrE. Toward is commonly, in BrE, spelled with an -s and among (accepted in AmE and BrE) is spelled with –st, although the form amongst, in BrE, is considered old-fashioned:
AmEHe walked toward the entrance BrEHe walked towards the entrance
AmE, BrEHe found it among the flowers BrEHe found it amongst the flowers
(Tottie, 2002, p. 172)
Another example of divergence between AmE and BrE is the two forms of the preposition
around, as in:
AmE, BrEShe walked around the block BrEShe walked round the block
(Tottie, 2002, p. 172)
Modiano (1996) explains the many differences in subject concord between AmE and BrE. For example, plural nouns as organizations, businesses, official agencies, etc., are often treated as plural entities in BrE, which means they are given the verb are, whereas in AmE, the same nouns are considered singular and they get the verb is. Implied plurals are similarly constructed, for example, in BrE it is acceptable to say ‘the committee are going to issue a statement’ and ‘the government are considering the proposal’, whereas in AmE one would say ‘the committee is going to issue a statement’ and ‘the government is considering the proposal’. In the cases where the plural form is used, it indicates a reference to the individuals or the sub-groupings in an organization and not the organization itself.
Modiano (1996) explains some general features in the differences between AmE and BrE regarding punctuation. For example, the hyphens are more frequently used in BrE when writing compound nouns whereas, in AmE, they are written with two words; for instance, in BrE co-operation and in AmE cooperation. One of the main diverging features, when writers are dividing a word at the end of a line, is that in BrE the system for dividing a word is based on the morphological breaks in a word, for example, struct-ure. AmE, on the other hand, is syllabic, for example, struc-ture. However, the matters of word dividing have more or less disappeared as word-processing programs and new technology automatically adjust the margins.
The comma is used differently in AmE and BrE. For example, when listings occur in writing, in BrE, there is no comma between the second and the last item, while in AmE there is a comma following the second to the last item (p. 130):
AmEThe cover has red, white, and blue flowers BrEThe cover has red, white and blue flowers
Gelderen (2006) explains how differences in spelling between AmE and BrE occur for external reasons – the conscious decisions of editors, educators and politicians. The slight spelling differences can be understood by both AmE and BrE speakers; hence, the relatively standard English may be responsible for keeping the varieties mutually understandable.
Tottie (2002) acknowledges how most spelling differences are systematic, although some have to be learned individually. The spelling differences are divided and organized by simplified rules and they are seen as systematized. Among the systematic differences, some of the most important spelling differences are AmE -or compared to BrE –our as in color/colour, AmE -re compared to BrE -er as in centre/center, AmE -log compared to BrE – logue as in catalog/catalogue, AmE–ense compared to BrE–ence as in license (noun)/licence (noun). However, sometimes the pattern is reversed, as in BrE practise(verb),while in AmE it is spelled practice (verb)8, and the use of double ‘l’ in AmE while BrE spelling use one ‘l’, as in travelled/traveled. AmE spellings are in general shorter although there are some exceptions, as in AmE fulfill compared to BrE fulfil.
The verb ending –ize is the prevalent spelling in AmE, as in fraternize, jeopardize, militarize etc., as BrE rather use the –ise ending, although there are variations in BrE while both variations sometimes are accepted, as in organize/organize, naturalize/naturalise, etc.
Some spellings, nevertheless, have to be learned since they do not follow any pattern and cannot account for a systematic nature. The differences, just to give a few
8The reversed pattern is also, for example, applied to BrElicense (verb), compare to licence (noun).
examples, are, AmE check while BrE cheque, AmE plow while BrE plough, and AmE tire while BrE tyre.
Modiano (1996) examines the differences in pronunciation between AmE and BrE by explaining how difficult it is to determine and investigate any standard models, as accents and dialects vary, most conspicuously in the UK. Some dialects of BrE have developed through institutional establishments, such as public schools and aristocratic domains, and are therefore associated, to some extent, with social class. The English spoken in the UK became the educational standard in Europe. However, in recent years, the input of AmE has reconstructed the language use and today both AmE and BrE are accepted.
Tottie (2002) compares Received Pronunciation (RP) for BrE and Network English for AmE, the latter is the pronunciation of English used during broadcasts in the US. The choice of standard models is argued as being those which most native and non-native speakers understand, although they are used by few native speakers.
The differences in individual sounds between AmE and BrE can be divided into systematic (predictable) ones, and non-systematic (unpredictable) ones. One significant difference between some dialects in AmE and BrE is the post-vocalic /r/, thus some AmE speakers speak with a rhotic dialect. Hence, for example, father, mother, pleasure, and tar are pronounced with an audible r; a strong retroflex r-coloring of the vowel, which means that the tip of the tongue is turned back against the alveolar. In both AmE and BrE the /r/ is not trilled and the airstream is less narrowed than for a fricative.
Another noticeable characteristic of AmE is the pronunciation of the intervocalic9 /t/. In BrE, /t/ is articulated as a voiceless stop while in AmE it is a voiced tap – a rapid articulation of a stop with a single tongue tip movement. Intervocalic /t/, in AmE, tends to sound as a /d/, as in butter, batter, better, and fatter. This feature, in AmE, turns some words into homophones10 as /d/ also is pronounced in the same way between vowels spelled with d, for example, bidder and bitter, udder and utter, and medal and metal (p. 17).
The vowel systems differ in many ways between AmE and BrE. For instance, the vowels in the words dance, example, half, fast, bath have, in general, an a: in dialects spoken in southern England, while in AmE (and in some northern BrE dialects) the vowel is pronounced æ. Hence ant and aunt are homophones in AmE. However, before /r/ and in words spelled with -lm AmE use a:, as in far, car, calm, and palm. Similarly, in AmE father and sergeant have a:.
9Intervocalic consonants are placed in between two vowels and occur in the middle of a word.
10Homophones occur when words sound the same, but are spelled differently and have different meanings.
AmE and BrE also differ in rounded back vowels. BrE distinguishes between three different back vowels, as in the words caught, cot, and calm, *?+, *?, and a:, respectively. In AmE, there are normally two distinctions, *?+ and *a:+, thus caught is pronounced with *?+ and cot and calm with a:. However, in some dialects in America, especially in the Midwest and the West, these vowels merge and are pronounced with the same articulation. Hence caught and cot, stalk and stock, and naughty and knotty may become homophones.
Tottie (2002) acknowledges how stress differs between AmE and BrE, although the patterns are, to some extent, systematic and can be sorted by syllables, suffixes, and whether a word is a loan word or not. Verbs ending with -ate are usually stressed on the first syllable in AmE, but on the ending in BrE. Some longer words, usually with four syllables, ending with -ary, – ery, or –ory, also have different stress assignments, thus some words are stressed on the first syllable in AmE and on the second syllable in BrE:
ancillary *?æns??lær? *æn?s?l?r?
capillary *?kæp??lær? *kæ?p?l?r?
corollary *?k?r??lær? k??r?l?r?
(Tottie, 2002, p. 21)
Although the majority of words with these endings are stressed on the first syllable, there is still a difference in pronunciation. In the second syllable from the end, AmE has a full vowel, whereas in BrE the same vowel is either reduced or not pronounced at all, as in:
commentary *?k?m?n?ter?+ *?k?m?nt(?)r?
category *?kæD??g?r?+ *?kæt?g(?)r?
cemetery *?sem??ter?+ *?sem?t(?)r?
(Tottie, 2002, p. 21)
On the other hand, words ending with -ile have reduced vowel in AmE but not in BrE, as in:
fertile *?f?rD?l *?f?ta?l
hostile *?hast?l *?h?sta?l
virile *?v?r?l *?v?ra?l
(Tottie, 2002, p. 22)
Modiano (1996) recognizes the differences in vocabulary to be increasingly important as the influence of AmE, in recent years, has had a great impact on the English use in Europe. The attitudes towards AmE have changed, and L2 learners have, to some extent, to be aware of, and have some knowledge regarding, the differences between AmE and BrE. As for today, BrE is strongly affected by AmE and many educational establishments throughout Europe have adopted a teaching approach which is encouraging the multiplicity of the English language variants. The mixture of AmE and BrE in use in Europe, which is referred to as “mid-Atlantic English”11, calls attention to how confusion in communication might occur for L2 learners, and even native speakers of AmE and BrE sometimes find the differences odd.
The differences in vocabulary are divided into three categories, depending on how they differ and in what sense they might cause confusion. The first category indicates that the terms not only share the same meaning, but are readily understood and, to varying degrees, are used in both the UK and the US. The second category indicates that there are two different terms for the same referent, but in this case the terms are not interchangeable. Despite the differences in preference, they rarely cause breakdowns in communication. The third category indicates more complicated terms which cause misunderstandings and failure in communication, as the terms have completely different meanings. In the third category, the potential of breakdowns in communication are much greater than in categories one and two. Below there is a conceptual chart with examples from all three categories and it illustrates how the terms might be interpreted by AmE and BrE speakers (p. 23-70):
Category 1 Words that differ but are understood by both AmE and BrE speakers
Room and boardAccommodation
When the term accommodation is used in AmE, it is sometimes written and spoken with an -s.
Elastic bandRubber band
The BrE term is not used in the US, but may be understood in context.
This BrE term is considered old-fashioned in America, whereas
airplane is listed as AmE in British dictionaries.
11 The term mid-Atlantic English refers to the usage of English noticed mostly in Europe where the EFL speaker uses a mixture of both AmE and BrE.
Stick shift/Gear shiftGear lever Fall (noun)Autumn
In BrE, bandage is a specific term which describes the actual roll of cloth which is used to wrap the injury. In AmE, bandage is a general term used to describe many different types of dressing, but gauze is the specific term for a thin strip of cloth used to wrap injuries.
Category 2 Non-interchangable terms which indicate the same thing
454088540386000Many Americans understand the BrE term, but do not use it. The term flat is also used in flat tyre (in AmEflat tire), and to express a battery without electricity, as in BrE flat battery (in AmE dead/empty battery).
Room mateFlat mate
The BrE term is not used in the US.
Many native AmE speakers understand the BrE term but rarely use it.
Period (punctuation)Full stop
The BrE term is not commonly used in the US and might cause disruption for native speakers of AmE.
The term funfair is most likely understood in context in the US, but Americans do not use the word.
First nameGiven name
The BrE term, while seemingly understandable, is not always comprehensible to native speakers of AmE.
Category 3 Terms which likely cause disruption or confusion
The term pavement in AmE means the area of the street on which vehicles pass. The area alongside the street which is designated for pedestrians is called sidewalk. Many Americans will be confused if someone uses the term pavement when referring to the pedestrian walkway.
Fag is slang in BrE and, furthermore, it is slang for homosexual in the US which can cause offensive misunderstandings.
Second floorFirst floor
These terms often cause confusion, because in BrE there is a ground floor followed by a first floor, whereas in AmE ground floor is referred to as first floor. Thus BrE first floor is second floor in AmE.
The BrE term is associated with a completely different sport in the US, as football, to native AmE speakers, is what Europeans call American football, although native BrE speakers usually understand the AmE term.
The BrE term plaster is not understood in the US when used to designate a small, adhesive bandage. Plaster, in AmE and BrE, is a white chalky material used in the construction industry and to make a cast for broken bones. The AmE term Band aid is a coinage and these were not originally marketed in the UK. Therefore, this coinage never caught on.
Private schoolPublic school
Public schools, in BrE, are privately owned institutions which are associated with the upper class and prestige. The term public school, in AmE, refers to schools which are operated with public funds. The term private school, however, is understood internationally.
Native AmE speakers would probably understand the term head master/mistress in context, but as the term mistress refers to a man’s secret lover in AmE, the term can appear strange to a native AmE speaker.
Implications of L2 Teaching with Multiple Englishes
Cogo (2011) argues that ELF12, which should not be confused with WE13, is valid and important in its creativity and as a communicative tool among non-native English speakers. While WE is nativized, ELF is a phenomenon described as virtual and transient in nature, strongly connected to context. Since ELF communication normally occurs in highly variable socio/lingua cultural groups or networks, the use is not monolithic and does not appear in a single variety, but is locally transformed and realized in transnational, or international, networks, and movements. As a result, speakers of ELF have developed an innovative ability to co-construct and blend English in order to ensure understanding. The opinions of teachers and learners is seen as an obstacle in the approach to ELF, although changes in attitudes towards the concept have already taken place, as learners, teachers, and English language teaching (ELT) practitioners in general are encouraged to engage in the debate of what a language is and in the issues of the English ownership. The preference regarding native-like English is criticized, as the assumption is considered dated. Instead, the approach to language teaching is accounted for by, for example, pragmatic competence. Hence, the dynamics of EFL14 communication, such as awareness and variability, are credited as equally important features of language competence.
Rajagopalan (2004) reviews the concept of native speakers of English by hypothesizing whether L2 speakers should or should not be assigned proficiency, as native speakers i.e. of the Queen’s English or General American, might experience difficulties in communication due to the interlocutor’s distinct (supposedly) foreign accent or inference of the L1. The implication of increasing numbers of EFL learners have put native speakers of English in a new situation, as the English spoken in airports, restaurants, international trade fairs, and academic conferences is closer to WE than any native English. The theoretical standpoint as to whether native speakers of English will keep their privileged status as EFL teachers is neglected because they are not model speakers of WE. This leaves standardized English (-es), such as AmE and BrE, in a less influential position.
Armah (2009) questions whether West African students and teachers can distinguish and be consistent in their English use regarding AmE and BrE, without any interference of the other
12 English as a Lingua Franca.
13 World English(-es).
14 English as a foreign language.
variety. Vocabulary, tense, spelling, and prepositions were investigated and recorded in four phases, which included conversation, whether teachers could identify and distinguish AmE and BrE, spelling exercises for candidates, and discussions concerning omission of preposition in today’s English newspapers. The conclusion of the paper suggests that the differences between AmE and BrE were not recognized. Neither teachers nor students were able to distinguish or correctly sort the examples of AmE and BrE, and the teacher’s attitudes towards being tested made some of the research unsuccessful. The result of the study implies that much work needs to be done in order to change the current trend of the indifference towards the differences between AmE and BrE, in order to achieve adequate results in writing and speech.
The initial ideas were to interview students about their position to BrE and AmE and investigate how their attitudes might influence their language-use. I soon realized that the workload would be immense. The process of determine contact with students and arranging opportunities for interviews would challenge the given timeframe for the essay. Therefore, I changed the approach and decided to try the competence and knowledge of BrE and AmE. The investigation will focus on the participants’ capacity to make the difference between AmE and BrE vocabulary and spelling, and it won’t include grammar or pronunciation.
In order to support the research question, this will be a face-to-face survey will be distributed directly to the students, especially to make sure it is completed without any help from other sources like textbooks or electronic aids such as computer programs or online dictionaries. I want to avoid an online-based survey since the participation tends to be lower than with a face-to- face survey (Gorard, 2001). It is also an opportunity to prevent the participants from conferring with each other or using reference materials. The results will be analyzed using the quantitative research method.
The survey (see appendix 1) contain three phases. The first phase tests the participants’ abilities to make difference between BrE and AmE lexical words. The participants will receive 40 sentences, each one with one or two words printed in bold. Each sentence is followed by four choices. The alternatives ask the participants to decide whether they believe the requested words to be British (A), American (B) or used in both languages (C). The student will be asked to choose alternative (D) if they are not sure about the word. For example, the students will meet the word petrol and the task will read: “to get a car running you need to fuel it up with petrol. Which of the following statements is true?” As shown, the requested word is printed in bold and followed by the question ‘which of the following statements is true’. The same format will be applied on all words included in the first phase of the survey. Two words from the 40 are used by both languages, which thereby gives the correct answer ‘C’. The words are put into context in order to improve the pragmatic implication as some words are used in both languages, but with various denotative definitions.
The selection of words is meant to represent and cover different areas in everyday-life which the students might meet, for example, traveling situations. All words have been assessed and discussed with my supervisor. My supervisor has informed me about how some words which have been by now considered as exclusively AmE are being absorbed into BrE. I have identified these and changed them with other words.
The second phase of the survey is made up of twelve sentences, each with a word missing. The answerer is given the Romanian equivalent and will be asked to fill in the gap with the appropriate translated word into English. Depending to the chosen spelling, their answers will be splitted into BrE and AmE. Any misspelled word will be classified as either ‘misspelled BrE’ or ‘misspelled AmE’. The answers will be determined to be BrE or AmE by the attempted spelling, based on what word I am examining. For example, this means that an answer spelled ‘coulor’ instead of ‘colour’ or ‘color’ will be considered a misspelled BrE word, maintained by the fact that the student uses ‘ou’, evidently, the spelling belong to BrE. The chart will have an additional bar called ‘wrong word’. Any incorrect translation will be shown in the chart and examined apart.
The last part of the survey covers the respondents’ previous influences. The first two questions inquire of their native language and determine whether they should be included into account or not. Students who answered that have another first language than Romanian won’t be included in the result. Their answers are as the same importance but they aren’t to be taken into account in the final result. This phase is place into the survey to study whether the students are conscious of what they are learning and whether anterior teachers which variety of English they have been using and teaching. The student should to choose if their previous teachers used BrE, AmE or Mid-Atlantic English. The fourth choice is chosen if the students aren’t sure and a last alternative lets the students to write verily regarding any other English used by anterior teachers. The two final questions examine influences by the students outside the classroom and imply investigating their consumption of music and television programs. I am conscious of my inability to verify whether the participants’ answers considering music and movies are correct. In that regard, I have to belief their given answers. Information about which English the students are exposed to outside school might have an impact on their awareness and competence of BrE and AmE and are therefore important for the research.
The introduction to the survey has been in Romanian to avoid any unintended input from my own accent and language use. I chosed to exclude the option of providing an explanatory introduction to the survey because it may affect the students in their choices. Instead, an above transparency will shown with two examples how the declaration are made and how the spelling part should be done. They were told to put away their phones and any other technical equipment. I will be present at the time they are completing the survey, making myself available for possible questions.
The instructions are important to provide the proof of the survey. The answers are meant to be intuitive and free and to be as original as possible, the students were instructed that they will be anonymous and the survey is made to secure their anonymity. Any of answer won’t be attributed to anyone as an individual.
Since the survey doesn’t get gender or ethnic background into account, the anonymity might warn unintended contamination when I am processing the result. In order to avoid pressure on the students, and thereby rush them into guessing, for the completion of the survey won’t be set a time limit.
The students who are invited to participate in the investigation are from High school “Mihai Eminescu”. Approximately 120 students, between the ages of 16 to 19, attend the school which is situated in center of Leova city. The school offers students to the choice between Mathematics & sciences programs and Humanities Programs. The students who attend the mathematics & sciences programs aim to be accountants, physicists. The students who attend humanities programs aim to be writers, study foreign languages. Four classes have been invited to participate in the research.
Table3.3.1.The number of students in each class
Mathematics & sciences classes Humanities classes
M&S 1 27 H1 20
M&S 2 24 H 2 19
The first class consists of 27 students and they attend a mathematics & sciences program (M&S 1). The students are between 17-18 years old. They are studying their second year in High school with English as a compulsory subject.
The second class consists of 24 students and they attend a mathematics & sciences program (M&S 1). The students are studying their second year with English as a compulsory subject. They are between 17-18 years old.
The third class consists of 20 students and they attend a Humanities program (H 1). They study their second year in High school with English as a compulsory subject. They are between the ages of 17-18.
The fourth class consists of 19 students and they attend a Humanities program (H 2). The students are studying their second year at High school. They are between the ages of 17-18.
Results and Analysis
The following results were gathered, as previously mentioned, in a High school in Leova. A total of 90 students completed the questionnaire and the results of each phase is divided into spelling, vocabulary and previous influences.
Table 4.1.1 shows the participants’ ability to distinguish between BrE and AmE vocabulary. The label ‘wrong answer’ refers to the participants who either chose the wrong variety of English or falsely believed that the words were used by both BrE and AmE when the words were not. The percentages in the diagrams are an average of 87 participants’ answers and each colour in the circle diagram represent one label each. The vocabulary phase included 40 sentences with 41 given words which the participants were asked to decide whether they belong to BrE and AmE
Table 4.1.1 Participants’ awareness of BrE and AmE vocabulary
Wrong Answer Not Sure
Wrong Answer Not Sure
The results show that 30 % of the participants answered correctly, while 35 % of the participants failed to distinguish between BrE and AmE vocabulary and 35 % of the participants were ‘not sure’. A few participants left some words without an answer. Those answers are labeled as ‘not sure’ in the diagram, as those answers are interpreted as an insecurity of the participant’s awareness regarding whether the words belonged to BrE and AmE. Five participants gave answers for only some of the words, the rest were marked as ‘not sure’ or left blank.
Some words stood out as being seemingly harder to distinguish as to whether they BrE and AmE. Table 4.1.2 shows the vocabulary which had the lowest average of correct answers. The vocabulary is displayed to the left in the chart and the percentages of the participants’ awareness to the right, with the lowest average shown on top of the chart.
Table 4.1.2 The lowest average of correct answers
Vocabulary Average percentage of correct answers
Diaper (AmE) 9 %
Mail box (AmE) 13,4 %
Curse word (AmE) 13,4 %
Jam (BrE) 13,7 %
Full stop (BrE) 16,4 %
“Diaper” was the hardest word to identify. About 59 % of the participants answered that they were not sure about which variety of English “diaper” belongs to, while 30 % answered that they were not sure. “Mail box”, “curse word” and “jam” had a similar average, with a percentage just over 13 %. At the bottom of the chart, “full stop” was recognized by just over 16 %. More than 65 % answered that they were not sure about which variety of English “full stop” belongs to.
Table 4.1.3 shows the vocabulary which the participants were most successful in identifying as to whether the words belong to AmE or BrE. The vocabulary is displayed to the left in the chart and the percentages of the participants’ awareness to the right, with the highest average shown on top of the chart.
Table 4.1.3 The highest average of correct answers
Vocabulary Average percentage of correct answers
Soccer (AmE) 73 %
Sweets (BrE) 67 %
Vehicle 64 %
Socks 58 %
Petrol (BrE) 55 %
The word “soccer” highlighted with an average of 73 % correct answers. “Soccer” had the highest number of correct answers followed by “sweets” with an average of 67 % correct answers. The words “vehicle” and “socks”, follow with 64 % and 58 %. The word “petrol” had an average of 55 % correct answers.
The participants were asked to translate twelve Romanian words into English and depending of their chosen variety, or their attempt at a particular variety, their answers are appeared below in circle diagrams, one diagram for each word. The two possible correct answers are revealed on top of the tables. Correct answers are displayed as either “BrE” or “AmE”. The shortening ‘MS’ stands for ‘misspelled’ and it is splited into either ‘MS AmE’ or ‘MS BrE’. As mentioned before, for example, if a participant wrote ‘coulor’ instead of ‘colour’, the attempted spelling variety is interpreted as BrE as the conclusive spelling feature, in this case -‘ou’, is used. Some participants chose not to translate some of the requested words and these answers have been categorized as ‘Blank’. The category ‘incorrect’ in the circle diagrams stands for
incorrect translations, such as wrong word choice or words that do not exist in the English language. The figures in the circle diagrams show the number of answers of each category.13277854235450030861004591050030861006889750030861009175750030861001147445004255135423545006005830459105006005830688975006005830917575006005830114744500Table 4.2.1 Tire/TyreTable 4.2.2 Color/Colour
1 1 11 17
12 5 42 AmE
MS AmE MS BrE
Blank Incorrect 2 15
40 28 AmE
MS AmE MS BrE
3086100-955675003086100-727075006005830-955675006005830-7270750013106404267200030937204826000030937207112000030937209417050030937201171575004215130426720005970905482600005970905711200005970905941705005970905117157500Table 4.2.3 Traveled/TravelledTable 4.2.4 Meter/Metre
3 12 5 1 46 20 AmE BrE
MS AmE MS BrE
Incorrect 3 1 2 7 74 AmE BrE
MS AmE MS BrE
3093720-980440003093720-750570005970905-980440005970905-750570001339850420370003077210438150003077210668655003077210897255003077210112712500307721013576300042106854216400059055004381500059055006686550059055008985250059055001127125005905500135763000Table 4.2.5 Practice/PractiseTable 4.2.6 Licorice/Liquorice
1 2 10 20 29 AmE BrE
MS AmE MS BrE
Blank Incorrect 19
29 9 3
15 AmE BrE
MS AmE MS BrE
12769854819650030111705308600030111707594600030111709893300030111701219200004130040481965005862955530860005862955759460005862955989330005862955121920000Table 4.2.7 Grey/GrayTable 4.2.8 Donuts/Doughnuts
2 1 AmE BrE
MS AmE MS BrE
Blank Incorrect AmE BrE
MS AmE MS BrE
56 28 20
14 3 2
7 40 3011170-980440003011170-749935005862955-980440005862955-7499350012636504279900030130754902200030130757207250030130759493250030130751179195004117975427990005867400490220005867400720725005867400949325005867400117919500Table 4.2.9 Pyjamas/PajamasTable 4.2.10 Catalog/Catalogue
1 7 11 8 2 58 AmE BrE
MS AmE MS BrE
Blank Incorrect 2 15 7 11
7 43 AmE BrE
MS AmE MS BrE
3013075-987425003013075-758825005867400-987425005867400-7588250012388854311650030111705168900030111707467600030111709753600030111701205865004095115431165005866130516890005866130746760005866130975360005866130120586500Table 4.2.11 Neighbor/NeighbourTable 4.2.12 Mom/Mum
8 8 5 5 17
MS AmE MS BrE
Blank Incorrect 42 1 24
MS AmE MS BrE
The results shows that, in general, neither AmE nor BrE were confirmed as being more frequently used than the other. The figures vary, seemingly depending on the requested word and only a few translated words were governed by one certain variety. However, the AmE term “meter” was used by 74 participants, which makes it the most used term. This can be compared to the three participants who chose the BrE translation. The second most frequently used term was the BrE “pyjamas” which was the chosen translation of 58 participants, closely followed by the BrE term “grey” with 56 translations. “Licorice” (AmE) or “liquorice” (BrE) had the lowest number of correct translations with a total of 12 correct translations (in both AmE and BrE). Almost a third of the participants left the
requested translation blank and 19 participants translated the term incorrectly. The term with the highest number of incorrect answers was “mom” (AmE)/”mum” (BrE). There were 42 participants who translated the desired word into “mother” which doesn’t correspond to the requested Romanian word. In terms of misspelled words, “donuts” (AmE)/”doughnuts” (BrE) distinguished with 14 AmE misspelled terms and 20 BrE misspelled terms. The participants were able in translating the terms “gray” (AmE) and “grey” (BrE). Only two participants misspelled any of the two varieties and one participant did not provided any response.
During the collecting of the data, some participants they struggled with spelling. They were informed that they had the option to avoid the spelling phase because, at that moment, they didn’t have the support they needed in order to perform to their best. However, only one participant left the spelling phase blank and those results are included in the circle diagrams in the category ‘blank’.
The last phase of the survey probed the participants’ previous influences and their individual tastes in music and television. As mentioned before, the first two questions of this phase investigated whether the participants had a first language other than Romanian.
Table 4.3.1 shows the total number of participants and the number of participants who said that they had a first language other than Romanian.
Table 4.3.1 The participants’ native languages
Number of participants First language other than Romanian
Ten participants said that they had a mother tongue other than Romanian or that they though their second language spoken at home is equally used to Romanian. These participants’ answers are excluded in the research in order to prevent eventual input from the other languages. Questions numbers three and four inquired which variety of English their previous English teachers used and question five attempted to determine which variety of English their current English teacher uses. Questions six and seven investigated the participants’ tastes in music and whether the TV programs they preferred were spoken in AmE or BrE.
Table Participants’ previous influences and choice of music and TV programs
I’m not sure
I’m not sure
The results display that 28 participants are ‘not sure’ about whether their middle school teachers used AmE or BrE, while 25 participants believed that their teachers used BrE, 18 participants stated that their previous teachers used Mid-Atlantic English, closely followed by 20 participants who believed their previous teachers used AmE.
Question four investigated the participants’ middle school teachers’ English use. The participants said that BrE was the most used, having been chosen by 41 participants. The use of AmE remained the same with 20 answers and both ‘Mid-Atlantic English’ and the participants who were ‘not sure’ reduced to 9 and 19.
In question five, which investigated the participants’ current English teachers’ use, BrE was chosen by 20 participants compared to 59 participants who believed their current teacher used AmE. A total of 11 participants were ‘not sure’ about their current teachers’.
Table 4.3.3 shows the participants’ recognized of their current teachers’ English use, class by class. The percentage to the right in the chart show the number of participants who were correct about their current teachers’ English use.
Mathematics & sciences 1 AmE 96 %
Mathematics & sciences 2 AmE 91 %
Humanities 1 BrE 55 %
Humanities 2 BrE 50 %
Question six investigated the participants’ choice of TV programs. In all, 78 participants said that they especially watch AmE TV programs, while 6 participants said they watch BrE TV programs, 3 participants were ‘not sure’.
Question seven investigated the participants’ choice of music and 65 participants answered that the music lyrics were particularly in AmE, while 8 participants answered that the music lyrics mainly were in BrE. There were 11 participant answered that they were ‘not sure’ and 3 participants replied that they either don’t listen music, or they listened music without AmE or BrE lyrics.