Difference between American and British Accent

Key Difference: The American Accent is easier to understand than the British Accent. It is also the most commonly used accent in the world; however, the British Accent is more idolized and considered to be sexy.

The Americans and British both speak English, yet when they speak they sound completely different. This is mainly due to the fact that they tend to have different accents. In fact each of them speaks a whole different dialect. The Americans use the American English, whereas the British utilize the British English. This is one of the major contributors to the different accents.

The history behind these accents is quite fascinating. It is no secret that America was colonized by settlers from England in the 1600s. So it is safe to assume that the people had the same accent on both sides of the ocean. After all, the Americans at the time came from there. Hence, it is not surprising that they did in fact have the same accent, what is surprising is the fact that that accent was closer to the American accent of today, rather than the British Accent. However, it is to be expected that after almost 250 years of separation led to the development of different cultures, customs, and more importantly accents.

The main difference between the two accents is that the American Accent is easier to understand than the British Accent. It is also the most commonly used accent in the world; however, the British Accent is more idolized and considered to be sexier.

However, when speaking about the American and British Accents, it can actually be misleading to say ‘American Accent’ and ‘British Accent’. The reason for this is the fact that there are many different types of American Accents and many British Accents. The world is most familiar with an American Accent known as General American, which has been made famous my movies, TV shows, and interviews; however, there are other accents such as Boston, New York, Eastern New England, the Southern United States, and many more.

Similarly, the British Accent that most people have heard and are in love with is the Received Pronunciation. The others are Cockney, Estuary English (Southeast British), West Country (Southwest British), Midlands English, Brummie (Birmingham English), Northern England English, Geordie, Welsh English, Scottish English, and many more regional accents.

So let’s look at the comparison between the most popular American Accent, i.e. General American and the most popular British Accent, i.e. Received Pronunciation. But first let’s also see the comparison between American and British Accent.

Comparison between American and British Accent:

 

American Accent

British Accent

Language

American English

British English

Spoken in

Primarily in United States of America and Canada

Primarily in United Kingdom, mainly England.

Popularity

More common around the world.

Less common, but more idolized.

Understandability

Easier to understand. Understood by most people worldwide.

Less easy to understand

Types

General American, Boston, New York, Eastern New England, the Southern United States, and many more.

Received Pronunciation, Cockney, Estuary English (Southeast British), West Country (Southwest British), Midlands English, Brummie (Birmingham English), Northern England English, Geordie, Welsh English, Scottish English, and many more.

 

Comparison between General American and Received Pronunciation:

General American

Received Pronunciation

Rhotic: This means that the ‘r’ at the end of the word is pronounced

Non-rhoticity: This means that the ‘r’ at the end of the word is not pronounced.

No Trap-bath split: Certain ‘a’ words, like bath, can’t, and dance, are pronounced with the short-a, as in cat.

Trap-bath split: These words are instead pronounced with the broad-a as in father.

Words are pronounced with an unrounded vowel.

The vowels tend to be a bit more conservative.

Some Words ending in –ILE are pronounced without the –e at the end. Such as fertile is pronounced as ‘fer-till’.

In these words the emphasis is on the –i-, is pronounced. So fertile becomes ‘fer-ti-l’.

In words ending with –IZATION, the emphasis is on the second syllable. For example: organization is pronounced ‘or-GA-ni-za-tion’

In words ending with –IZATION, the emphasis is on the third syllable. Hence, organization is pronounced ‘or-ga-NI-za-tion’

The letter “T” in the middle of a word can be pronounced like a fast “D”

The letter “T” in the middle of a word cannot be pronounced like a fast “D”

Image Courtesy: amristo.wordpress.com, www.youtube.com

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Comments

Yes there are many British accents and many American accents and some British accents are more difficult to understand than most American accents. But British English as spoken by many people in the UK is neither easier nor more difficult to understand than American English. As for more common around the world: people in Europe are more likely to have been taught British English (albeit with exposure to American TV/Hollywood). Same with Africa. Of course English is one of the native languages in South Africa, and South African English is more akin to British English. Same in India - that's a lot of people. In China it's true that there is more exposure to American English. So in summary, on popularity and understandability, the article is misleading.

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