Is American English lazy English?

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I once heard it claimed that a language forms the fundamental fabric of a society, enabling clear communication between members of that society. Any erosion of that fabric, it was claimed, would tend to erode the society.
Is American English simply lazy English with disregard for the fundamentals of the language, or is it a valid simplification of an overly complex and irregular language? [:^)]
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But what kind of erosion?
Languages are changing continually, they are an alive thing. If you knew how many words there are in a Spanish Dictionary that we never use and will never use..and each new revision made by The Royal Academy is including new ones.

I can't say about American English but we have something similar.
Spanish of America is as correct as Spanish of Spain, it was developed in different way.
And what do you think?
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I was hoping nobody would ask, but since you did, I much prefer the attitude of the British. They have enough respect for the language to use correct spelling, clear enunciation and to observe the correct use of prepositions and general grammar. On the other hand, some Americans seem to like reinventing the language as they go.
In any realm where people share, there must be standards. Imagine if I (as a hypothetical engineer), decide to use my own unique version of the metric system. I think it is much easier and faster to callibrate ruler I am making by sight, as opposed to using internationally standardised measuring instruments. Sure, I can make my ruler quickly, but what are the ramifications for anyone unfortunate enough to use the drawings made with my ruler?
I strongly believe standards must be preserved, even if they are sometimes complex, and even if they do contain irregularities. I believe American English represents a 'dumbing-down' of the language.
It is not my intention to offend users of American English, users of the imperial system of measurement or anyone else who cares little for international standards. I'm just curious as to how and why (if there is a reason) there is so much variation.
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I know literacy levels in most western countries are declining rapidly. Could this be a contributing factor?
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Do you really think so, Mike??
I don't think American English is worse than the British one.
Also Americans use "correct" spelling, they use American spelling, they use American enunciation and also American grammar -> all these also have been standardized, as a guideline you can use the "Webster" dictionary as far as I know.

I would rather say that American English is just a variant, a different version "beside" British English, but not "of" British English.

It's the same with German German and Austrian German (as I explained in another thread): There are differences, first of all in pronounciation, but none of these differences makes either the German Geman or the Austrian one worse.
-> And: American English is amazingly "unique" according to such a big country compared to British English which consists of many more dialects.

I also do not really agree that standards have to be preserved, but I am a kind of a nostalgic person, so I'd rather stick to the standards I know or I've learnt....

On the other hand, Language is not a dead thing (except Latin Emotion: smile )!
Language is always developing. Standardising means "hindering" this development. I mentioned already in the "to be" thread, that language always tends to get more and more simple, esp. irregularities are reduced. That is a progress that can't be stopped by standardising grammar or spelling
-> You can see this already when you have a look at English or French spelling. English spelling was set as a standard already around 400 or 500 years ago. That's why there are so many and great differences between the way you write and the way you speak: The way of speaking was very close to the spelling 400 years ago, when spelling was fixed to be a standard. But language has developed within these 400 years, while the spelling remained, mainly under protection of that what Oxford regulated and regulates.
This is similar in French. The "Accademie de la Francaise" which has been caring about the French language for hundreds of years already also set up the spelling rules and changes hardly anything about it.
In the meantime, spelling and way of pronounciation grew that apart that a new way od spelling would just mess everything up and confuse more than it'd help.

Germany didn't have such an institution that cared about the usage and rules of language, nearly every kingdom in old Germany had its own spelling rules which was extremely biased by the dialect which was spoken.
After the German areas were united in 1871, people thought about one spelling for the whole country to make sure that everyone can understand each other esp. because of trading etc.
Germany didn't get any general accepted spelling rules until Duden standardized it in 1901.

In 1993, there was a great discussion about changing the rules because of the fact that language has already developed that much that new spelling rules would be necessary.
They revised all the old rules, invented new ones and declared them in 1994.
Books and newspapers have then been printed in new spelling, but after esp. news paper agencies discovered that people were confused by the new rules, they immediately changed back to the old ones. Some schools also avoid the new rules and go on teaching the old ones. This reform is said to be abortive already.

I appreciate this non-acceptance of the new rules because I think that just makes everything more difficult as it is.

You can see that this is a very difficult topic, to sum it up: I don't think it's that good to preserve every standard in Language, especially dispensable rules should better be deleted but I dor myself would rather stick to older rules which I'd say is just a matter of being used to it...
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Thanks Pemmican for your well thought out comments. You strike me as a diligent language scholar, so I greatly appreciate what you have to say.

Of course only a fool would argue that the popularization of American English should or could be reversed, so do you think we may see the day where American English is regarded as the international standard, and British is regarded as classical English?
As a teacher I am concerned as to whether it is more appropriate to teach British English, American English or both. When teaching professional people and academics, I always lean toward British English, whilst for regular folk interested in English for travel, entertainment etc, I probably lean toward American English.

The English speaking media is now dominated by American productions, and so many non native English speakers are influenced by American English, but internationally, who have the weight of numbers - British style language users or American style users? I would hazard a guess that it's the Brit. style users. When one considers that the countries on the following list and a multitude of other nations have deep historical if not current connections with Britain and British English, I think it is quite likely that the use of Bitish English is far more widespread and popular than one might think at first glance.
Aden (Yemen)
Ascension Island
Anguilla
Australia
Bahamas
Bahrain
Barbados
Basutoland (Lesotho)
Bechuanaland (Botswana)
Bermuda
British Cameroon
British Guyana (Guyana)
British Honduras (Belize)
British Somaliland (Somalia)
British Solomon Islands
Brunei
Burma (Myanmar)
Canada
Cayman Islands
Ceylon (Sri Lanka)
Cook Islands
Cyprus
Falkland Islands and dependencies
Egypt
Fiji
Gambia
Gibraltar
Gilbert and Ellice Islands (Kiribati & Tuvalu)
Gold Coast (Ghana)
Grenada
Hong Kong
India (included Pakistan & Bangladesh)
Iraq
Ireland
Jamaica
Kenya
Kuwait
Malaya (West Malaysia)
Maldive Islands
Malta
Mauritius
Montserrat
Newfoundland (Canada)
New Hebrides (with France) Vanuatu
New Zealand
North Borneo (Sabah)
Nyasaland (Malawi)
Oman
Papua New Guinea
Palestine (Falestin/Israel)
Pitcairn Island
Qatar
Rhodesia (Zimbabwe and Zambia)
Sarawak (East Malaysia)
St Helena
St Kitts
St Lucia
St Vincent
Seychelles
South Africa
Swaziland
Tanganyika (Tanzania)
Tonga
Transjordan (Jordan)
Trinidad
Tristan Da Cunha
Trucial Oman (United Arab Emirates)
Turks and Caicos Islands
Uganda
Western Samoa
Zanzibar (Tanzania) Aden (Yemen)
Ascension Island
Anguilla
Australia
Bahamas
Bahrain
Barbados
Basutoland (Lesotho)
Bechuanaland (Botswana)
Bermuda
British Cameroon
British Guyana (Guyana)
British Honduras (Belize)
British Somaliland (Somalia)
British Solomon Islands
Brunei
Burma (Myanmar)
Canada
Cayman Islands
Ceylon (Sri Lanka)
Cook Islands
Cyprus
Falkland Islands and dependencies
Egypt
Fiji
Gambia
Gibraltar
Gilbert and Ellice Islands (Kiribati & Tuvalu)
Gold Coast (Ghana)
Grenada
Hong Kong
India (included Pakistan & Bangladesh)
Iraq
Ireland
Jamaica
Kenya
Kuwait
Malaya (West Malaysia)
Maldive Islands
Malta
Mauritius
Montserrat
Newfoundland (Canada)
New Hebrides (with France) Vanuatu
New Zealand
North Borneo (Sabah)
Nyasaland (Malawi)
Oman
Papua New Guinea
Palestine (Falestin/Israel)
Pitcairn Island
Qatar
Rhodesia (Zimbabwe and Zambia)
Sarawak (East Malaysia)
St Helena
St Kitts
St Lucia
St Vincent
Seychelles
South Africa
Swaziland
Tanganyika (Tanzania)
Tonga
Transjordan (Jordan)
Trinidad
Tristan Da Cunha
Trucial Oman (United Arab Emirates)
Turks and Caicos Islands
Uganda
Western Samoa
Zanzibar (Tanzania)
Is this relevant? I think to English teachers it is. There are now more non-native English speakers than native ones. This trend will continue. Will the 2-3 hundred million Americans (and a few tens of millions of non-native Am. Eng. users) popularize American English at the expense of the British English which is now spoken by a VASTLY larger number of people? Would it be an improvement?
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>> Thanks Pemmican for your well thought out comments. You strike me as a diligent language scholar, so I greatly appreciate what you have to say.

Thank you very much, Mike, but I wouldn't say I strike you Emotion: smile This is just the way I see it.

>> Of course only a fool would argue that the popularization of American English should or could be reversed, so do you think we may see the day where American English is regarded as the international standard, and British is regarded as classical English?

This is an interesting question, but I wouldn't say so. I would still rather say that both American and British English will be their own versions of the English language.
"Classical English" vs. "International English" would mean that American English will replace the British English which will then just remain in poetical usage, but I'm quite sure that won't happen (at least not that quickly).

>> As a teacher I am concerned as to whether it is more appropriate to teach British English, American English or both. When teaching professional people and academics, I always lean toward British English, whilst for regular folk interested in English for travel, entertainment etc, I probably lean toward American English.

I think you choose a good way when you're teaching this way.
If I taught, I'd also stick to either British or American English - first of all just to have a basis and to avoid misunderstandings. As soon as the learner got used to the language, I would introduce also the other variant.
Showing differences in pronunciation, spelling, vocabulary, etc. is the best way.
This can surely be handled in the same way as idiomatic expressions are taught.

I don't think the differences between these "Englishes" are that great so just dealing with them in a way of comparing them to each other will certainly do - and: showing the differences in this case doesn't mean learning another language!
I'd say 98% of Grammar, Pronunciation, vocabulary, etc. are the same in both AE and BE, people from the US can usually understand people from the UK and the other way round, so there are just a few aspects that should be dealt with in school, mainly to show that there are differences and how to use them.

When e.g. a teacher teaches BE, then his students will be able to speak BE. As a further step then the AE should be mentioned, which wouldn't mean that the students have to have a command also of AE, but they should be able to notice that e.g. AE "truck" is the synonyme word for BE "lorry", that the pronunciation /faest/ is just the American way to say /fa:st/, or that the past participle form of get -> "gotten" is the American form of British "got", etc.
The students don't have to use the American variant then, but they should keep in mind that there are differences and be able to realize them, that's all.

>> The English speaking media is now dominated by American productions, and so many non native English speakers are influenced by American English, but internationally, who have the weight of numbers - British style language users or American style users? I would hazard a guess that it's the Brit. style users. When one considers that the countries on the following list and a multitude of other nations have deep historical if not current connections with Britain and British English, I think it is quite likely that the use of Bitish English is far more widespread and popular than one might think at first glance.

Oh yes, I do think so, too.
Also in German schools they teach British English. The reason I was given was just the one that "England is closer", so the chance that a German would come to the UK is bigger than s/he would come to the US. (Stupid statement btw in my opinion.)

I agree according to the spreading of British English but I've to add that in most of these regions, people have been speaking English for decades or centenaries already, that means also here, the Britih English has developed and put forth own idiomatics or differ somehow in vocabulary or pronunciation (compare maybe the Australian English to the British one - they are certainly similar, maybe more similar than AE compared to BE, but they do have differences)...
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Once again Pemmican, I thank you for your well thought out response.

Japanese love clearly defined rules, so, as per your recommendation, and so as to avoid confusion, I will continue teaching British English as the primary version at my school.

In general, I am greatly reassured by your comments. Thanks.

Oh, by the way, British English is taught in Australian schools, and I think it would be fair to say that Australians take great pride in the preservation of 'proper' (the Queen's) English. Of course there is some peculiarly Australian slang, and there is a 'common' Australian accent. There is also an 'educated' Australian accent which is very similar to the general British accent except that the 'ah' sound is more of an 'ay' sound.
I believe New Zealanders are also taught British English. Their accent is even closer to a general British accent. Is this true Woodward?
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That's right, British English is taught in New Zealand schools but with the influence of American TV and movies, their 'version' of English is becoming more and more accepted. And it is true tht the 'educated' people do have an accent similar to the British now that you mentioned it. NZ also has its vast array of slang like every country has.
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