History of American English

The most important tool for communication in every part of the world is language. There are thousands of different languages that are spoken all over the world but as we all know, there is one language that tops the charts in every single manner and that is English. Since English is the language spoken by people all over the world and is used as the official standard of communication in so many countries, it is important that we are well familiar with it. However, like every other major language, English also has a lot of dialects and the focus here is on the one that is used the most commonly used of all, the American English. Spoken by about two-thirds of all the people who speak English natively, it is mainly spoken in the United States. In fact, this particular dialect also has an authentic sub dialect and that is the General American. This one is considered to be boundless and spoken by everyone as it is the closest to American English in all aspects of culture.


Talking about the phonology of the American English, it has to be noted that in comparison with the British English, the American sounds much more homogenous. The amount of change in accent is very little and most of the people around United States speak in the same manner. You will find some accents on the southern side but overall in all the interior areas of the United States the accent is general and pretty much the same. As far as the pronunciation technicalities are concerned, the American English is said to have maintained something called rhoticity. It is the ability to pronounce the ending part of the syllable (coda) before a consonant voice. Another common reference for this is “post vocalic R” and it is a clear indicator of the way American English differs from the British English. Saying that it maintained its rhoticity basically refers to the fact that the British variant was also the same in this regard during the 17th century after which it started losing it over a period of time. There are several other distinctions too like the usage of /ɑ/ and /ɒ/ variants of the letter “A”, merging of the vowels before the alveolar approximant [ɹ] and some other rules too.


As one would expect, the formation of new vocabulary started immediately as soon as the colonialists started to settle and learn about the terms used for different unfamiliar items by the Native Americans. Words like moose, raccoon, opossum and squash are all taken from Algonquian. However, the Native Americans were not the only ones that contributed and the colonialists from other parts of the world also had the same impact. The Dutch brought in several words including stoop, cookie, culler and pit to the American English and from the Germans, words like kindergarten, angst and sauerkraut were introduced. Portage and levee are both French words and the Spanish also gave it words like barbeque, rodeo and stevedore. The flow never stopped and new words kept on coming, later from Canadian French and Mexican Spanish too.

19th century onwards

The vocabulary saw a major boost after the industrial age began as new terms were constantly being coined for things that were not even imagined before by anyone. Words like railroads, parkways and freeways started to come along and other infrastructure words like overpass, parking lot and public transit were also introduced. With further additions from the foreign languages mentioned above like hamburger from German, words from Yiddish were also introduced like tush, schmooze and chutzpah. Not just that, the American English also picked up several expressions for unique situations.


As far the morphology is concerned, one of the major things that have been notice is the extensive amount of usage of nouns as verbs. Some of the examples include lobby, advocate, vacuum, interview, feature, showcase, transition, torch, author and several others. Several compounds have also been formed by the American English like landslide, flatlands, teenager, bandwagon, badlands, foothill etc. The most fascinating of all though is the creation of nouns that are basically a combination of a verb and a preposition like tryout, stopover, shakedown, hideout, spin-off etc.

There is a lot to learn and you can really benefit from finding out the detail in this subject. To find out more about how the American Government facilitates foreign people learning American English, you can simply visit this website.