What is British English?
To me being an Englishman, this is a very simple question to answer. British English is English! Nothing else can claim any authenticity. Having said that, as English gentlemen, we have gracefully recognised that new strains of English have come to be used around the world such as “American English”. Although there are some minor differences in the use of words and phrases, and indeed many of these words and phrases are now extensively used by the English themselves, the language is the same. The main difference being the accent. It has surprised me how often none English speakers have asked if I understand American. ”Yes I do!”, is my reply, ” it is just a different accent”. We watch American films (movies) in the UK and enjoy them very much. In English teaching circles, we teach now what is called standard or international English. This is the common ground between the various different flavours of English. This standard version of English most closely resembles “British English” as this is the original authentic source. So if you are at the early stages of learning English, looking for an English English teacher is the best thing for you to do or risk having your efforts tainted with a bizarre accent.
British English has evolved and is still evolving.
English has come out of a melting pot of many languages. According to Wikipedia the origins are Germanic (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English_language). Which is what I have always believed to be true but with a good dose of Latin and Celtic going back several thousand years. Later being influenced by Viking cultures and the Norman occupation of 1066. Today, as mentioned before, many new phrases come from American influence and the language continues to evolve. The cliché “Have a nice day”, came from over the Atlantic and during the Nineties sounded very American, but not now. Today, this polite conversation terminator has been adopted into our daily chat. English is a very loose language. New words and phrases are coming into the language all the time. Finally when they gain acceptance you will find them in the dictionary. “Macho” is one example of a word that came to England from Spain when the era of cheap holiday flights started. Here is the entry in the Cambridge Dictionary:
“Behaving forcefully or showing no emotion in a way traditionally thought to be typical of a man.
- He’s too macho to admit he was hurt when his girlfriend left him.
- I can’t stand macho men”.