Saturday, October 16, 2010

Standard English

Standard English (often shortened to S.E. within linguistic circles) refers to whatever form of the English language is accepted as a national norm in an Anglophone country.[1] It encompasses grammar, vocabulary, and spelling. In Britain, it is often associated with the RP accent, and in the United States with the General American accent but in fact can be spoken with any pronunciation.[2]

Although Standard English is generally the most formal version of the language, there exists a range of registers within Standard English, as is often seen when comparing a newspaper article with an academic paper, for example. A distinction also should be drawn between spoken and written standards. Spoken standards are traditionally looser than their written counterparts, and quicker to accept new grammatical forms and vocabulary. The various geographical varieties of S.E. more or less adhere in their written form to a generally-accepted set of rules, often those established by grammarians of the eighteenth century.[3]
English originated in England during the Anglo-Saxon period, and is now spoken as a first or second language in many countries of the world, many of which have developed one or more "national standards". English is the first language of the majority of the population in a number of countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, and Jamaica, and is an official language in many others.
As the result of historical migrations of English-speaking populations and colonization, and the predominant use of English as the international language of trade and commerce (lingua franca), English has also become the most widely-used second language[4]. In countries where English is either not a native language or is not widely spoken, a native variant (typically English English or North American English) might be considered "standard" for teaching purposes.[5]

The article English grammar describes the grammar of English.
Although the Standard Englishes of the various Anglophone countries are very similar, there are nonetheless often minor grammatical differences between them. In American and Australian English, for example, "sunk" and "shrunk" as past tense forms of "sink" and "shrink" are beginning to become acceptable as standard forms, whereas standard British English still insists on "sank" and "shrank".[6] In White South African English, the deletion of verbal complements is becoming common. This phenomenon sees the objects of transitive verbs being omitted: "Did you get?", "You can put in the box". [7] This kind of construction is non-standard in most other forms of standard English.

Vocabulary is an area which differs more widely between regional standards. Some examples, particularly those affecting British and American English, are well known. British English uses "trousers" where American English uses "pants"; British English uses "pants" where American English uses "underwear".
A common feature of spoken Australian English is the use of hypocoristic words, which are formed by either shortening or the addition of a particular ending, or by a combination of these two processes. Examples are "G'day" (good day), "medico" (medical practitioner), "blockie" (someone farming a block of land), "ump" (umpire).
Further information: American and British English differences


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