Table of contents:
- It's easier for Americans to understand the Japanese than the British
- Catcher in language
- American British Dictionary? Seriously?
- One language, different cultures
- How to understand both languages - British and American?
Two countries separated by a common language. This phrase by Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw is often used to highlight the differences between the United States and the United Kingdom. But how true is it and is it really so difficult for two nations to understand each other?
British and American English have consistently diverged in different directions over the centuries, ever since the Founding Fathers landed on Plymouth Rock in 1620. And these differences can lead an unprepared person to communication problems.
What should those who learn English do? Study the American or British version? Perhaps the correct answer would be to pay attention to both. How it is done at the Wall Street English school, where teachers from the UK, USA and Canada work, so students study accents, dialects, specific words and idioms, cultural characteristics of different countries. All training takes place only in English, thus, there is a complete immersion in the environment, skills of daily communication and fluent conversation are being developed. The method of natural learning, constant practice and communication with other students and teachers allows you to better prepare for meeting with British interlocutors and better understand them than it is given … to Americans. Yes Yes!
It's easier for Americans to understand the Japanese than the British
Surprisingly, research has shown that American expats have more trouble adapting to British culture than to completely “alien” ones, such as, for example, Arab or Japanese.
Why? There are many reasons for this, but one thing is clear - language definitely plays a role. Successors to British culture experience the biggest culture shock when moving between seemingly similar countries. Perhaps the effect is that they are simply not ready for such a turn. They expect that everything will go like clockwork - after all, they speak the same language! Whether on one - that is the question.
Catcher in language
Nowadays, you can often hear the opinion: - British English is somehow outdated, or something. Sounds strange even by ear.
Of course it is not. The language of the inhabitants of the island is not outdated; rather, it turned out to be a little “canned”. Everyone knows the commitment of the British to traditions, as well as a careful and reverent attitude towards their native language. Classic "royal" English has not changed for centuries, while migrants from all over the world poured into the "melting pot" of American culture. And everyone had to somehow understand each other.
American English, which initially had a rather Irish accent, then absorbed the melodious accent of African nannies, the specific pronunciation of newcomers from India and China, the vocabulary of Mexican neighbors and a lot of other interesting things. Let's not forget about the many simplifications. As a result, it was transformed into the very language of international communication in which it is so convenient for natives of different countries to negotiate. And it became strikingly different from the British source. This chasm is growing day by day. Moreover, this applies not only to pronunciation and vocabulary, a huge gap has formed in the cultural code of the two countries.
American British Dictionary? Seriously?
Many multinational companies are faced with an interesting phenomenon: Americans in negotiations, as a rule, are easily understood by colleagues from Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. European and even Asian countries for which English is not native at all. But communication with the British is difficult.And it's not just pronunciation or the habit of speaking quickly, but also the discrepancy between the meaning of words and idioms, as well as the manner in which one behaves.
Americans and British have different meanings for the same words. Because of this, sometimes there is confusion, misunderstanding and even mutual resentment.
So, recently a small comic dictionary was compiled, where British English is “translated” into American. And there are many surprises. For example, Americans can be quite discouraged to learn that a polite British “very interesting” (very interesting) can actually mean “complete nonsense!”, And not less courteous “with the greatest respect” (with the utmost respect) and even like “You're stupid".
However, in some cases it is the other way around. American English also has seemingly polite phrases that are actually designed to destroy the interlocutor. The most common example: “bless you”, which literally means “God bless you”, and in a figurative sense - an urgent wish for the interlocutor to shut up and disappear.
The restrained British are shocked by the excessive straightforwardness of the Americans, and those, in turn, are annoyed by the habit of the Britons to beat around the bush. You never know what they mean!
One language, different cultures
The difference in speech and mentality concerns not only everyday communication, but also work. Americans often go into “selling mode” or active self-presentation and claim that their contribution to the overall project is enormous and invaluable. Their British counterparts tend to be much more modest and, conversely, tend to downplay their accomplishments.
This leads to the fact that the Americans interpret the behavior of British colleagues as insecure, and themselves - as insufficiently qualified and even unsuitable for the job. On the other hand, to the British, the behavior of the Americans seems provocative, and they themselves are upstarts who are not trustworthy. How can they understand each other? Or, let's put the question more broadly - how can we understand both?
How to understand both languages - British and American?
If your task is to understand colleagues on both sides of the ocean, you should start by determining your level of “classic” English. This is best done by taking the Wall Street English test.
Based on the results, it is easy to choose a training option. Wall Street English has 20 levels of study, from beginner to advanced. They study both individually and in mini-groups with students of their own level. Classes are held in a friendly atmosphere, fun and interesting - using an interactive teaching method, electronic textbooks, watching movies in the original and full immersion in the language environment.
But the most important thing is constant communication with native-speaker teachers, who introduce them to the peculiarities of pronunciation, vocabulary and idioms of various countries. Students can easily master British, American and other varieties of English and learn to quickly "switch" from one to another. And not only speak the language, but also really understand what the interlocutors really mean. Paradoxically, it’s true: Wall Street English graduates are able to understand English better than their linguistic “cousins” Americans. And communicate with everyone in the same language.
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