On Speaking English: Do You Know American?
There's Enough Variety in American English that it Really is for Everyone!
All languages change over time but many agree, none change on a regular basis more than American English. A look at the changes in the years 1951-1999 shows about the same amount of changes as the years 1901 to 1950
Even with that expectation, who knew that today we would have such a variety of cultures within our own that would develop their unique versions of American English? Each culture incorporates new terms such as those that come from advances in technology, but the casual language about technology may be quite different among those in varying cultures.
Learning other languages adds to our ability to communicate with other people we come in contact with, but when we mix the old with the new, the changes in American English can become a marvelously mysterious maze of connections that keep us on our toes.
The funny thing about “American” is that no matter how you understand it, the language and its idioms are definitely and infinitely interesting. They also last even though new generations may not know the actual roots of the phrases. Love it or hate it, American English is full of intriguing idioms that reach backward as well as into our future.
A Little Detective Work Helps with Deciphering American English:
Not quite everyone will agree with this, but American English is a language to be reckoned with. Where else can a foreigner find so many words that sound alike but are spelled differently?
Only in American can addressing a woman as “child” be considered a complement on one coast and an insult on another! Or where else can a child be taught to say, “Yes, sir and yes, ma’am” in one region, then travel to another and be accused of being a smart aleck for trying to be polite on the other side of the country?
Can't Beat this Accent:
Well, there are some explanations--not that I am going to offer any here, mind you. What I will do, though, is offer you a few resources that could delight and amaze both those who are trying to make sense out of the mysteries of American English and those who have a soft spot in their heart for it.
• You can consider a dictionary of American idioms (perhaps make it first on your Christmas list if you have a loved one who is in love with words). Enjoy learning more about the country's everyday folks.
• Idiom Connection is an interactive learning experience that everyone can have fun exploring. Check their pages and see which are the 100 most frequently used idioms.
• If you want to quickly sharpen and exercise your skills on an ongoing basis you can get an idiom for each day at EnglishClub's site.
• At ProProfs you can learn more about idioms and see how to make an idioms quiz.
• Walk the fine line of the world of American English by checking out an example of teaching idioms at In Step With Idioms.
Idioms can be a really fun part of any language if you like to play with words. Careful now, we are absolutely not talking about lying here, but the idioms of American English can offer much entertainment for acquaintances and strangers alike, and provide us with unique responses when used with people from other cultures.
Enjoy America's English Words!
We’ll wrap things up with some advice for any and everyone traveling throughout this great land. Consider picking up a resource on idioms, especially if you hope to get out and about in small towns and remote areas. A handbook of American idioms could mean the difference in coming to meet and understand new and wonderful people, or not.
Meeting the delightful medley of people who make up the potpourrie of America as you travel along the way can be a lot of fun and you can make some great memories, but you don’t want to go away from the interactions scratching your head, wondering what just happened.
Can you imagine an American seriously assigning a gender to a toothbrush or to a grocery cart? We’ll maybe hear of a wonderful old car called by a “he” or “she” name, but in America all that is based on pure emotion and there are no rules where emotions are concerned.
Besides, if there were there would be so many exceptions that the poor thing wouldn’t know what it was anyway. This hub isn’t about the rules and regulations that make little sense to those who speak gender specific languages.
This hub is simply about learning and enjoying American English. If you have a favorite idiom from your region of the country, or the world, let the rest of us know what it is. Leave it in the comments section below so we can all better understand the gray areas of your background.