Discussion in 'Cultural Discussions' started by Pivra, Apr 16, 2006.
American or English, In Thailand when I was studying there we were tought using American English.
It;s funny, cuse while studying here in Iceland I had several teachers, each one with a different background. Some of them had learned American English and others British English. So I remember my tests were a mixture of both versions of the language. Oral tests were also funny, as they also combianed both accents.
New Zealand is meant to use the British but we often slip into using the American like 'i learned' instead of 'i learnt'.
Purists believe that NZ should be British English.
It seems nobody cares about that here... I guess the reason is that most English teachers and tourists are British for obvious geographical reasons, but most foreign media come from the USA (although all films and TV series are dubbed) so there is a constant mixing of them. Also, I think the differences between both dialects are minor if we compare American and European Spanish, so it doesn't seem important to take them into consideration unless you want to completely master the language.
I don't think there is a national standard on which dialect to use in public schools. However, I studied in a private school based in the U.K., too. Since their examiners and a few of their teachers were British, they encouraged students to use RP.
In the Netherlands it is obligatory for (secondary) schools to teach its pupils British English, also you have to use British English for your English exam. In university you can choose, but British English is the standard.
In Canada we're the fence-sitters in this debate: our spoken English sounds almost exactly like that of our neighbours in the northern U.S., but our spelling is British.
One thing I can't stand is when you hear words on the telly, and they say it American, I get so annoyed about it, there was one show that talked about "Patriotism" (Pay-tree-ot-ism) and they were saying "Pat-ree-ot-ism" and they sounded like fools. If it was American, fine, that's the way the say that word over there, but in British television, ughh, it was like they wanted to sound foolish.
I've got nothing against the way they say it, it's just when I hear Brit's using certain words, "controversy" is another, I'd cringe if I heard someone say "conTroversy", it's "conTroVERsy" here.
Till some time ago most AE. Young people prefer AE due to -mainly - music and movies, TV. But, nowadays British English is having its way as some people go to England to study, also because most of the academic books sold here now are from British publishing houses, so we can find a mixture of AE and British everywhere.
Here in England, there is always such a prejudice between those who speak with a 'posh' accent, i.e. RP and those who speak otherwise. I'd say especially from the north, which is where i'm from. Thus it is always the RP which is encouraged, but of course you hear different accents on the tv etc. You can get judged by what accent you have, it's pathetic. I have more or less a neutral accent, but the English i use is kind of mixed up because my mum's American and so she has taught me some English, whilst the schools have taught the rest. So sometimes, i mix the two up. I didn't even realise that i did this until recently, because i don't know what the difference is.
Here, in Argentina, we learn British English but the students, most of the time, speak with American accent because of the influence of American flims, Tv shows, etc.
Also, if we want to present an exam (in/at?) a private institute, we do it in British English.
Please, feel free to correct my English.
agreed. this causes difficulties as some canadians are then viewed as americans when travelling. one exception to this is newfoundlanders (newfies) whose accent is quite different and distinct.
Here in Germany British English is mainly taught. It's just "European" English, why should they teach American English? The US are far away.
Well, here in America, in lots of our high schools these days, students are required to take a foreign language class in order to graduate. We learn languages like French, Portugese, German, etc. even though those countries are far away! So, just because you live far away from somewhere, doesn't mean that you shouldn't learn the language!
Well, I didn't want to say AE is useless to us. I just meant that it's better to teach BE as it's closer to Germany. More German companies cooperate with British ones due to that fact (for example). I couldn't imagine what'd be if the USA were in Europe. Which persuasive advantages does AE have and why should one teach AE instead of BE in Europe? Finally, the politicians determine it.
At my school (economy) they teach only BE, when I took an AE word I was told that I shouldn't use it in my tests in any case. I'd certainly have some problems if I were formerly taught AE grammar.
In the end we also understand you so the difference isn't that big.
Here in Bolivia we learn mostly American English because the better place for learning it teaches that kind of English. Adittionally, the center that used to teach British went to bunckrupcy so we don't have to many choises, here.
I think that in France it is usually BE. I can't tell the difference though, their French accents far outweigh whatever dialect of English they have learned. Most people I have met who have very good accents speak AE, but that is because they spent time in the USA.
Here we learn the BE in the school but I prefer the AE because I dunno why I understand them better... Maybe it's music's fault...
Maybe it's a bit more common teaching British English at schools, but there's no real standard. In my case, I've changed three times my accent, I started with a sort of oxbridge accent, then, influenced by rock bands, changed to american and, finally, after living one year in Coventry, I have a very weird kind of brummie accent. I tend to imitate the accent I listen to more often, so I don't wanna know what comes next.
I think in Spain we prefer BE and I prefer it too because I find the accent easier to understand and imitate.
I made the mistake of thinking a Canadian was an American due to the extreme similarity in accents. That person gave me the advice that i should always ask 'What part of North America are you from?' I have asked that a few times, but i always get a weird look, like it's obvious. It really is so hard to tell, so please don't take it to heart
British accent. That's what I learned and most people I know did the same.
There are more British teachers here than teachers from the US. You only need two hours to come from London to Madrid so that's the accent I'm used to. I can't imitate an American accent and sometimes I find it hard to understand.
I never attended any English classes in schools, but as far as I know they usually put maps of England and pictures of London on the walls, and their reading materials concern mostly Britain. Still, I think we just don't distinguish. Or maybe it's only I who don't. As for the spoken accent, it is Russian. The matter is, we don't pay much attention to foreign languages in common schools. As for what they have in specialised schools, I don't know. They don't seem to be popular, anyway.
This seems very odd to me. I can understand choosing one English standard as the general reference, but to actually forbid people from using a word from the other standard seems excessive. As far as I'm concerned, if a kid in my class wants to call his pants "trousers," hey, it's all good.
In France 20 years ago people learned only British English, the books were skewed to the UK culture, teachers would scream if you used anything American sounding and anything Anglophone culture outside Britain was pretty much ignored in classes. There are vestiges of that still. The old teachers, old methods, old ideas are still out there. Nowadays, American English is gaining year by year. Most new books try to be 50-50. But the "best" students (those who don't speak with strong French accents and learn/retain their lessons) sound to me like they have picked up some American English because it is the language of popular culture (series, films, computer games, etc.)
The standard English accent taught in Spain has been BE. In '70s teachers tended to use a standard RP English and tapes and listenings in books used to use that same accent known in those days more commonly as "bbc English or Queen's English".
Nowadays students books have been updated. One can listen several different accents and different formal and informal ways of speaking, but as the most of student books come from UK as well as English teachers, the BE still is absolutely predominant.
In other hand, most of us, Spaniards generations of students of English, have grown with the "urban legend" that AE was almost "unintelligibly" but nowadays I think I can understand a movie or tv series in AE much better than in BE. I mean I found a great difference between standand BE and "street fast speaking",
I think that at the end and for people who usually complete its English classes watching films, documentaries or series in AE, at last the accent is a standard English accent but softer, and possibly a bit more rhotic.
About those who say that can adquire an accent just listening music, well, I have my doubts that is possible but if they say so...
Well, it's a bit difficult to answer a question such as this when it comes to Poland, because in our schools little, if any, attention is paid to teaching correct pronunciation, save maybe for a few notable exceptions... the teachers just correct the more glaring errors, but overall they don't seem to care about how their pupils sound, which results in Polish people speaking with a dire strong accent. Throughout my entire non-academic education, not one time have I learnt anything about English sounds. That all being said, it is BrE that is preferable, judging by the spelling and student books they use, and oh... the design of classrooms is a bit telling, too.
At universities, I'm talking English studies here, there's sometimes a choice between the GA and the RP, but usually only the latter is taught, as is the case with two major universities in my home town.
When I speak BE a lot of people take me for a Londoner, so that obviously has become my subcoonscious favourite. However, I really could fall in love with Maltese English.
When I speak with North Americans it is probably somewhere between "General American" and Canadian English. Most people locate me somewhere on the East Coast, which is fine with me. Must be due to media influence. All my Canadian relatives live in B.C.
I guess, exactly the same in Russia. At least, it was exactly so in my French classes...
Wow, I'm amazed to read that. I wonder if it's still the case in 2013 ... ?
I was always given the advice, "Always ask 'What part of Canada are you from?' ~ Americans don't mind being mistaken for Canadians, and Canadians will always be flattered not to be mistaken for Americans." (Mind you, this was my grandmother giving this advice. She was Canadian)
... and obviously had never seen South Park!
You make a good point there, Sepia. This thread, as is often the case, revolves around BrE and AmE (with CanE dropping in for a guest appearance). But there are of course many other distinct versions of English in the numerous countries that have English as their official language (or one of them): versions that vary not only in accent, but also in vocabulary, grammar and syntax — and Maltese English is indeed one of them.
♪ Blame Canada! ♫
(I'm surprised they don't teach Gibraltarian English in Spain. joke)
And rightly so, I think. Please note that this is not a thread about the multitude of English accents, rather it treats of which variety of English is taught at schools (or is otherwise preferable) in a given country, and I can hardly imagine Maltese English or Caribbean English being taught taught widely in any country in the world...
Just say plain old "Where are you from?" I'm not sure an American would be flattered to be mistaken for a Canadian, or the other way around either. You really can't tell Americans and Canadians apart? It's so obvious to me. Well to be fair... a lot of Americans can't tell English, Welsh and Scottish apart either.
And please note that I wasn't referring to accents, but to varieties of English that vary "in vocabulary, grammar and syntax" (see my #"32). The thread title refers to dialect, not accent.
The original OP's question was (and the thread title is) "What dialect of English does your country prefer?" Whilst "your country" may well include education authorities, it also includes the entire population, as you acknowledged with your "or is otherwise preferable".
I've no idea whether Maltese English is taught in Maltese schools (though it probably is if the teachers are Maltese), but I'm sure that most of the native Maltese population prefer it. Certainly the majority of the 1200 million Indian population prefer Indian English. And so on and so on.
So should the discussion rightly be limited to BrE and AmE? I think not.
Can we really talk about a Maltese English? I know it is an official language on the island and most of the people probably speak it extremely well but as far as I know the native language is Maltese. The kind of English they speak would be influenced by their mother tongue and foreign sounding. I say this but I admit never actually having heard any Maltese speaking before.
I thought, perhaps mistakenly, that in this thread we were supposed to discuss which variety of English is preferable in a given non-English-speaking country, and indeed such were most of the contributions. That Scottish English is hugely preferred (compared to other dialects of English) in Scotland, and similarly Indian English in India, AuE in Australia, NzE in New Zeland, Jamaican English in Jamaica, or, for that matter, Brunei English in Brunei, is quite obvious. I'm sure that no person from, say, Australia, would chime in with a striking discovery that hey, Australia prefers AuE. That's why I thought that non-English-speaking countries were meant.
Never mind, you may well disregard my posts, what do I know.... and who am I to say that the discussion should be limited to BrE and AmE -- but, understandably, it is indeed these two variaties that are taught in non-English-speaking countries. I agree with your conclusion, though, we can discuss what we want, it's 'Cultural Discussion forum' after all and the rules are more lax here.
Hmmm . . . my relatives in Minnesota and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan would disagree. People from other parts of the U.S. hear their accent and often think they're Canadian, which annoys them a lot.
I'm not sure why it's necessary to make any assumptions at all about a person's home country. Why not just simply ask "Where are you from?"
OK dreamlike, with that assumption I agree that BrE and AmE would be the prime contenders. I just took the OP's question at face value. And yes, it would be fatuous to ask Scots, New Zealanders or Australians which variant of English they prefer, but then those are countries where English is the only language for the large majority of the population.
However it's not quite the same in countries that have English as an official or major language alongside another national language. I have known both Maltese and Indian people who strive to drop the lexical and grammatical characteristics of their local variety of English in favour of BrE, because they see it as more 'cultured' or more internationally acceptable (their view, not mine!). So their answers to the question about preference might not be quite so predictable.
We really can talk about a Maltese English, merq — at least as much as we can talk about American English or British English. Most Maltese are bilingual from a very young age, and to the best of my knowledge all secondary and higher education in Malta is in English; so it's not the same situation as, say, a native French speaker learning English as a second language and thus sounding "foreign". For many Maltese people, English is as much a 'mother tongue' as Maltese (national identity issues aside).
Actually Maltese English is very little influenced by the Semitic roots of the Maltese language, but does have features derived from the more recent influence of Italian. I used to do quite a bit of business in Malta, and I often noticed expressions and constructions that echoed Romance language forms, where they wouldn't in 'standard' English. But they're established features of Maltese English, not 'foreigner mistakes'.
I, on the other hand, was clearly reading too much into the OP's question, so we may well pretend I haven't produced the last two posts.
And yet, they do sound foreign. I am watching some YT videos at the moment, and regular Maltese people speak with a very strong distinctive accent. I am told by Wikipedia that it is not uncommon for some well-educated people with a high social status to use impeccable RP, though. Even more interesting is the phenonomenon of code-switching -- throwing in some English words and phrases to an otherwise Maltese utterance, or the other way around. It's a good thing that you brought Maltese English up, it's certainly an interesting issue, thank you.
I checked out Maltese television. It sounds like a mixture of Arabic, English and Italian. Seriously, I'd say their English is excellent but I would never consider them native speakers. Actually I wouldn't consider Indians native speakers either. There is something that sounds off yet I'm very aware that many people started English at 5 and as such may often times know more about grammar than the British and know more synonyms, expressions, proverbs than Americans. I'd put them in the same category as Dutch speakers: bilingual or close to bilingual but not native.
I know this is awkward. People from British commonwealth countries where English is official are often forced to take ESL classes in the US when they arrive for their studies, and it's a sore spot for them. Even worse when their teachers fail them!
Bringing this back around to topic, I don't think anywhere do they teach a norm that isn't British, Irish, American, Canadian, Australian.... I would be surprised if people in Cameroon or Senegal (or even Nigerians) learn say Nigerian English, or Nigerianized Engllish. All these varieties exist on microsoft spell check (English Sri Lanka, English Botswana...) so maybe they have become standard.
In the former days, British English was often prefered to Jamaican English in Jamaica. In modern times American English is becoming the prestige pronunciation. You will find a range of pronunciations in Jamaica, most of which carry higher prestige than Jamaican English in certain circles. So it's not as obvious as one would think.
On the question of Maltese English sounding "foreign" (and I guess, dl and merq, you're referring essentially to accent rather than other dialect aspects), it all depends on your reference base. I'm sure that a BrE speaker who hadn't been acclimatised to AmE through films and TV shows would find AmE speakers very foreign-sounding; and vice versa for an American hearing BrE for the first time.
It's not surprising that Maltese English speech has tones of Arabic, English and Italian, since those have been the three biggest language influences in Malta throughout history. But then certain New Yorkers' speech has clearly identifiable Italian tones, while others owe their accent and speech patterns to Yiddish — this doesn't mean they can't be considered as native speakers.
I really can't go along with the Dutch analogy. Their first language is Dutch; they learn English as a foreign language. They often achieve an excellent standard, but English is in no way their native language. The English they learn is most likely to be essentially BrE or AmE. There's no such thing as Dutch English with its own specificities of vocabulary, grammar, syntax.
Now take the Indian situation. India has 22 recognised regional languages (and hundreds of distinct dialects), but two official national languages: Standard Hindi and English. About 60% of the population don't speak Hindi, and of those who do only a minority speak Standard Hindi. English is therefore widely used as the common language. In many Indian families, two languages are spoken day-to-day: English and the local Indian language (Urdu, Tamil, Punjabi, Gujarati, etc, etc, ...) — they grow up learning the two languages side by side (from birth, not just from age 5), so English is as much a native tongue as the other one ... and the English they speak is Indian English. It may vary across regions or social groups, but there are core characteristics in common. Finally, I have known a number of Indians (born, bred and living in India) whose only fluent language is English — try telling them they're not native speakers!
None of that suggests that Indians are in the same category as the Dutch.
I'm with you on your last point, merq, though I'd take out the 'maybe'. The reason that all those variants of English appear in Microsoft's language listings, and in many other sources, is indeed that they are distinct, established varieties of English.
Dreamlike, I've always found the 'code switching' you mentioned fascinating: some Maltese refer to the result as Maltlish — much as the same phenomenon in the Philippines is called Taglish (Tagalog/English).
The same is the case with Maltese and Indian people, as suggested by Wordsmyth in his #40, but I'm yet to come across a video in which a Jamaican person uses pronunciation other than Jamaican English, which is of course readily identifiable. What do you mean by certain circles? I gather that BrE/AmE is not used by people from all walks of life, rather by the selected few like professors or some other well-educated people?
By people who want to seem rich.
For completeness sake, I should also make it clear that Jamaican English is different from Jamaican Creole. Most of the videos one can find on the internet will contain Jamaican Creole, not Jamaican English. Jamaican Creole is the language of our entertainment, as opposed to Jamaican English which is the language of business and education.
I don't want to flog a dead horse, but let's not forget that the distinct varieties of English aren't just a question of accent, but of vocabulary, spelling and grammatical construction.
I had a good demonstration of the vocabulary aspect during my first visit to Jamaica: I went to lunch with two business contacts, both having a pretty distinct Jamaican accent (well they would, they were Jamaican!). The English of one of them was indistinguishable from BrE (accent aside); the other one used a lot of local words and expressions (and sentences liberally sprinkled with "man"). He wasn't speaking patois, but the first guy still had to translate a number of things for me.
The English taught in public schools here is thoroughly British. What the people speak and how English is used commercially (and probably in most private schools) is mostly American-based, however.
I think US English.
By the way, I don't know how many people in my country think the same, but I really don't find this bad at all; to me, writing and especially reading are certainly more important than talking... Probably not few, because language education in Russia is written-text based.
Separate names with a comma.