Key Differences Between American and British English

Key Differences Between American and British English

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Key Difference Between American and British English. Picture of a shelf with two boxes, one with de USA flag on it and the other with de UK Flag, Picture by freestocks at Unsplash. Unplash License.

Are you curious about the main difference between American and British English? Let’s start at the very beginning, shall we?

What is language? A language is a form of communication that reflects human behaviour. It can dramatically change its form with the changes in society, can choose its shape from different cultures and traditions, and helps keep communication between people.

Most countries are proudly concerned about developing their unique dialects, particularly with respect to pronunciation, idioms and vocabulary.

If you were born in the United Kingdom, you might assume that the English you learned in school will help you get around the United States. Well, for the most part, it will, but in social media, there are much more differences in vocabulary between British and American English than you might think.

So if you want to venture into a new international market, it’s not enough to be “understood”. You have to localise your content, which means establishing a more compelling connection with your viewers to succeed. 

Localising British to American English is Vital

English speakers around the world understand each other, so one may ask himself why localise English content. The answer is simple and clear. There are significant differences in grammar, spelling, vocabulary, slang and much more.

American English differs not only from British English (which has many different British English Accents), there are also some differences within the United States. Regional language differences in pronunciation, tone and vocabulary can be found throughout the country.

Young viewers pay much attention to new slang on social media. They’ll quickly notice if you use an outdated alternative to the authentic local vocabulary. It’s necessary to localise even the tiniest part of content. If those cultural nuances don’t get through to your viewers, they can generate a lack of interest or even some misunderstandings.

If you aim to reach new markets, you must put yourself in the hands of specialised local linguists and voice artists. At GoLocalise, you can localise your project with translators, voice-over and dubbing artists in more than 300 languages and all their talents are recorded in their mother tongue.

How different is British and American English?

American and British English are similar in most aspects. Nevertheless, there are differences in spelling, pronunciation, and grammar (learn why we find the British Accent so charming).

Despite what they have in common, there are enough differences between these two languages that someone may not understand their meaning exactly.

1- Accent and Pronunciation 

Many factors make American and British English different. The most obvious one is the accent, specifically with sounds like “r” and certain vowel sounds.

American and British English are the reference norms for English as spoken all over the world. Still, some local accents, such as Texan, carry strong regional connotations and must be correctly dealt with.

2- Spelling

On top of pronunciation, another difference between American and British English is how they spell words.

There are different spellings or even entirely new words to describe the same thing.

British English often spells words such as “colour” and “behaviour,” while American English spells “color” and “behavior”.

British EnglishAmerican English
Flavour Flavor
Neighbour Neighbor
Apologise Apologize
Criticise Critisize
Travelled Traveled
Offence Offense
Pretence Pretense

3- Meaning – Terminology

Sometimes American and British English will adopt different words to express the same meaning, and sometimes, the same word expresses different meanings. They don’t always use the same grammar for various objects.

British EnglishAmerican English
Petrol Gas
Holiday Vacation
Flat Apartment
Lorry Truck
Jumper Sweater
ChipsFrench Fries

4- Grammar

The difference between spelling words like American humor and British humour, comes from the Brits adopting the Old French language. Americans simplified it as the adaptation of grammar took place.

Many grammar rules differ between American and British English. For example, in British English, you would say, “Shall we go now,” while in American English, you would say, “Should we go now.”

5- Expressions and Concepts

There are a few things to remember when trying to understand British and American expressions. The two languages use different terms to describe the same thing. For example, in British English, a bank is called a financial institution. 

British English and American English are different from each other in a number of expressions, spelling, idioms, etc. Sometimes the same word will express different concepts, such as “braces,” which in British means “suspenders” and in the USA they are devices used to straighten one’s teeth.

In some other cases happens the opposite, the same concept is expressed with different words, such as Football in Britain and soccer in American English.

American and British English Voice-Over Services 

If you want to grow internationally and reach new markets, I can offer only one strong recommendation: you definitely should use localisation to cover all the different accents and latest trends of American English and British English.

When viewers don’t connect in this way to your video, they might think it is poorly produced for the lack of attention to detail, or simply assume it’s foreign and that it doesn’t apply to them.

Finding a reliable translation service that can also offer subtitles and captions, dubbing or voice-over and guarantees quality delivery isn’t easy. For a translation to be accurate, it has to be made by natives that are familiar with the local culture and all the newest British slang.

If the video you are producing is for a very specific market, professionalism and appropriateness are vital, we recommend localising your content at GoLocalise, to genuinely meet the requirements of your target audience.

At GoLocalise, not only do they make sure that the language used in your project is high-quality, consistent and culturally appropriate, but they can also ensure that all references and figures used are tailored to the demands of your target market.

Their goal is to go beyond borders, rather than simply serve foreign customers.

We hope this information about American and British English differences has helped highlight the importance of choosing only the best English specialists for localising all your international projects. 

Have you noticed that the iconic movie villains have British Accents, or that things British People say usually are not what they mean?

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