American British or Australian Which English Do You Speak
American English has developed over hundreds of years and produced its own very distinctive accent, spelling system and vocabulary. Australian English has also developed from the language which was first spoken in Britain, but in a slightly different way.
It all started in Australia when the British convicts were deported there as an alternative to imprisoning them in Britain, and this continued from 1788 onwards. Convicts from London, Manchester, Liverpool, York and just about every part of Britain ended up in Australia and their accents merged together over the years.
American English began with British colonization and the same mixture of accents merged together there too, but in a different way. Add to this mix, Welsh, Dutch, German, Spanish and a host of other accents and you eventually get the sound of American English that we hear today.
Australians use a vivid set of verbal images which are sometimes called Strine, a name taken from the comedy version of the way the Australians pronounce ‘Australian’ (‘Os--try-lien’). Among the most common phrases are colorful descriptions of people, like:
‘lower than a snake’s belly’,
‘so mean he wouldn’t shout in a shark attack,’
‘as busy as a one-armed bill-poster in a high wind,’
‘mad as a cut snake’.
There are more than five thousand words or phrases which are peculiar to the Australian continent. Some of these, like kangaroo, boomerang, and bush telegraph are well known outside Australia as well. Others, less well known, include ‘lolly’ meaning ‘sweet’, and ‘station’ meaning ‘stock farm’. There is also a large selection of Australian slang words, such as ‘sheila’ meaning ‘girl’ or ‘woman’, ‘crook’ meaning ‘ill’ or ‘angry’, ‘drongo’ for ‘fool’, ‘ocker’ for ‘an uncultured person’, and ‘wowser’ for ‘killjoy’, plus numerous others.
There are many differences in vocabulary usage between British English, American English and Australian, but the main difference is in the accents. This is basically because each of these accents uses a different part of the jaw to project the sound.
Australian English comes from the very back of the mouth, somewhere around the area where the jaw hinges together. American English (in one of its forms) comes from the center of the mouth, right between the cheeks where’s there’s lots of room to throw the sound around. Standard British English is projected from the front of the mouth and the tongue and teeth are used to make the sounds.
This does, of course vary a little bit depending on local accents.
For hundreds of years these languages have diverged more and more, but the rapid spread of the internet is now pushing them back together as one language. There used to be distinctions between spellings and language usage but these are becoming less and less important.
Yes, okay, I didn't mention Canadian English, because my British ear doesn't pick up the differences between Canadian and American English well enough to write about it. Yes, I know there's a difference.