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  #21  
Old August 31, 2012, 01:17 PM
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Originally Posted by BenCondor View Post
There are plenty of differences in slang, of course, but I doubt there is much more British slang such as to significantly enlarge the vocabulary.
Stone the crows, that really takes the biscuit! That's quite funny, I'm gobsmacked that some septic is taking the mikey and yakking about limited English slang!

Believe me, there's more slang than you have ever dreamed of in your philosophy.
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  #22  
Old August 31, 2012, 02:24 PM
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Point well taken, however just go to http://www.urbandictionary.com/ and you can find thousands of American English slang words and expressions. It adds up.
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  #23  
Old August 31, 2012, 03:11 PM
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Originally Posted by BenCondor View Post
American English, in the standard form heard on national broadcasts, has more relaxed vowels than British English and I've heard several students of English claim that it is easier to pronounce.
It would be interesting to know why. Is it closer to the sound of their native languages? Is it more phonetic? Is it just because they've had more exposure to en-us than to en-gb?

(BTW I presume you mean "RP" when you say "British English" - there is an astonishing amount of dialectal variation in the UK).

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As for having a "larger" vocabulary, I personally doubt it, since it is almost the same. That is, as an American English speaker I can pick up a British English newspaper, scholarly article, novel or basically anything and understand it perfectly.
It's probably a question of definitions. How do you define how large a language's vocabulary is? The number of words which 2 people claim to know and for which they give similar definitions? The number of words in the largest standard dictionary? Statistical estimates for the average passive vocabulary of the native-speaking population? Statistical estimates for the average active vocabulary of the native-speaking population via corpora? I can well believe that there are some definitions which favour en-gb, some which favour en-us, and some which can't separate them.
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Old August 31, 2012, 04:01 PM
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Re: Dialectal variations in the UK. Absolutely! I did rather mean to suggest that the "standard form heard on national broadcasts" criterion would also apply to British English in order to be "included" in my characterization. With that criterion set, I think British diphthongs tend to have a broader shift from start to end positions. For example when an American says "you" it's a fairly straightforward proposition. When the British say "you" it's as if the mouth were closing around a plum. I personally love the British accent and I say this completely without disparagement, but I do believe it is a harder accent to "get right". This has been confirmed to me by various people I've met who have encountered both accents.


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It's probably a question of definitions.
I agree.

People wonder why I like philosophy, it's because typically most questions eventually resolve, at least in part, to certain core issues. First, yes, there is the epistemological question: "How can we prove this one way or the other?" This all depends on your standards of rigor, how many people you want to "sample", which sources upon which you want to base your study, etc., etc. Even in hard-boiled fields like mathematics, there is not always agreement on what constitutes proof. Imagine when we schlep ourselves down to the messy, subjective, rough and tumble world of linguistics!

Some offer the argument that the "typical" English person (not really being terribly specific I'm assuming) has a larger vocabulary than the "typical" American person. As an American, personally, I wouldn't entirely doubt this. However this would be quite difficult to test. Randomly sampling various persons throughout the population and asking them to "write down all the words you know" would be rather problematic. Well, how about examining all of the published sources in the two countries? Certainly easier, but are those sources truly reflective of the "typical" person? Probably not. Journalists, as a rule, have spent more time studying the language and use it professionally on a daily basis....

And on and on we could go until, I'm sure, we're spending more time on issues of provability and scope than on the original question

Last edited by BenCondor; September 01, 2012 at 05:31 PM.
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  #25  
Old September 01, 2012, 12:48 AM
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Originally Posted by BenCondor View Post
Point well taken, however just go to http://www.urbandictionary.com/ and you can find thousands of American English slang words and expressions. It adds up.
My guess is that this is as a result of a mix of immigrants all bringing words from their own languages. An obvious one is Yiddish, but I bet there are many more.
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  #26  
Old September 02, 2012, 01:33 PM
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I've been meaning to ask for some time now, is British English as prone to "softening" the language as is American, for example where the word "problems" is replaced by "issues," or where "a discussion" becomes "a conversation" etc.?
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Old September 03, 2012, 12:10 AM
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I've been meaning to ask for some time now, is British English as prone to "softening" the language as is American, for example where the word "problems" is replaced by "issues," or where "a discussion" becomes "a conversation" etc.?
Not that I'm aware of. The language is changing, but perhaps we are more conservative. I speak with no particular authority here.
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  #28  
Old September 03, 2012, 01:32 PM
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Originally Posted by Glen View Post
I've been meaning to ask for some time now, is British English as prone to "softening" the language as is American, for example where the word "problems" is replaced by "issues," or where "a discussion" becomes "a conversation" etc.?
I don't know about comparatives, but... http://www.oxfamblogs.org/fp2p/?p=5672
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  #29  
Old May 02, 2013, 07:43 AM
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I came across the word punnet, and at first thought it was British for strawberries
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  #30  
Old May 16, 2013, 09:01 AM
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Bespoke?
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