Talk:British English

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Contrasted to American English[edit]

With regard to my edit: 'Britain' does not mean 'England', and there is no reason to contrast British English with any other form of English unless one is adopting an ameri-centric position (compare American English and Canadian English, which make no similar mention of 'British English'. Kaixinguo) 19:46, 16 March 2009 (UTC)

Hmm. I think that if you asked somebody to translate a phrase into British English, you'd be very unlikely to receive it in Scots. Equinox 19:52, 16 March 2009 (UTC)
No, this is the way the term is used, and the way it is defined in dictionaries. British English and American English are the two main branches of the language – all other varieties are more-or-less allied with one or the other. And the supposed exemplary accents of each in the 20th century have been BBC English (which until recently has always had an English accent), and American Broadcast English, respectively. Michael Z. 2009-03-16 21:14 z
What some other dictionaries say:
  • M–W Online: the native language of most inhabitants of England ; especially : English characteristic of England and clearly distinguishable from that used elsewhere (as in the United States or Australia)[1]
  • Random House: . . . esp. in southern England.[2]
  • AHD: . . . in England as distinguished from that used elsewhere. [3]
  • OED Online: . . . in Britain, as contrasted with those forms used in the United States or other English-speaking countries
“Correct” or “standard” British English, BBC English, or RP are characteristic of Southern or South-Midlands England, not Scotland, the North, Wales, or the West Country. And of course, if you are not contrasting it with American or other English, then it is just “English”. In this sense speaking of British English is Ameri-centric, or at least not British-centric. Note that Americans invented the term, when the rest of the Anglosphere would divide the language into proper King's English and provincialisms.
The Galaxy quotation of an American Shakespeare scholar, the earliest in the OED, is interesting. The American author is using British English to describe the native “English with a British accent” of the “uncultivated South Briton,” and contrasts it against “North British speech,” and against the “pure English” “prevalent among the best speakers in England.” Michael Z. 2009-04-03 17:25 z

2 definitions[edit]

What's the difference between definition 1 and definition 2, and why could they not be merged? --78.149.173.227 05:51, 6 September 2009 (UTC)

1 might be restricted to mean English in Britain only, while 2 includes the English of the former Empire/much of the current Commonwealth. I think that most uses of the term are less precise, and include either of these senses.
But sometimes (rarely) it is used specifically to mean one or the other. I think these occurrences are probably cases of technical or prescriptive use, for example as dictionary labels. This entry could probably be improved, but it may require a bit of research. Michael Z. 2009-09-08 05:07 z