English in America
Various forms of English exist in America and define historical contexts of language and geographical alienations between groups of people. In the US, Standard American English, African American vernacular English, and Southern US English remain applicable. Consequently, Canada uses Standard Canadian English (Salmons & Purnell, 2020).
Today’s society has changed significantly due to disparities in language and partly influenced by American English. It remains the first and oldest language used by different colonial settlers. Much of the English we hear today originates from historical patterns of settlement that had a significant influence. More so that still remain experienced in dialects spoken.
The historical context of dialect in the US was based on early settlements. During the pre-colonial period, the eastern parts of the US were the initial geographical hotspots for settlements. However, despite insignificant mobility, the region maintains confounding dialect variations. In 1803, the California gold rush, which was preceded by the Louisiana purchase, became the main factor for rapid population spread across regions (Salmons & Purnell, 2020).
Although common language remained an expectation among early and later settlers, the opposite occurred as dialect mixing became the new trend, thus more conformity. From a historical context, new arrivals into the US indicated that dialect disparities would increase. In 1947, John Cabot emerged the supreme leader, and under his reign, the first group of English speakers settled in America.
Later in 1620, the English Puritans, the most well-known English-speaking immigrants, arrived on the Mayflower. Both arrivals were significant to the American population because they shaped the dialects of today. Therefore, American English comprises different dialects contributed by British settlers and European settlers. Consequently, contributed by later immigrants from other parts of the world.
Immigrants in the US are considered pioneers of American English. Although some of them were from Britain, most of the new settlers came from European countries. African was the primary source of raw materials and slaves for American industries and farms. As a result, many Africans relocated to the southern part of the US to look for better livelihoods. Moreover, by working on farms for pay. However, many slaves were imported during the slave trade and became the contact for people speaking English and other languages, predominantly European and African.
The interactions between people from different countries furnished English to conform to expected standards. Nevertheless, indigenous populations of Native Americans and their languages remains constant due to geographical restrictions and prolonged low-friendly social interactions.
The Pilgrim Fathers constituted the earliest settlers and were from wealthy backgrounds. As a result, they brought a more “cultivated” form of English, hence changing English quality in the US. Later, British settlers, mainly from lower classes and speaking non-southern English, became influential given their spread across America. For many years, American English has experience prejudice from various fronts and, till today, still exists.
American English Today
Until 1776, Britain controlled much of American. During the same year, America gained independence from the British and had some effect on American English. In 1806, Noah Webster published the Webster’s Dictionary, which had a raft of changes for some words, including proposed new spellings. However, many Americans disapproved of the changes and instead attacked his ideas. As the US became a superpower nation, American English gained popularity and was widely accepted.
Many people began neglecting British traditions and language standards to the extent that American English started influencing British English, though with some opposition in Britain. This trend resulted to “The Powerful Variety” concept, based on three factors: the US exhibited political power as a powerful country globally, popular culture through music and movies, and communications technology through the internet and Information Technology (IT) language.
American English spread across the US because the British Empire had infiltrated into different parts. However, as the US attained the global superpower status in the twentieth century, it assumed promoting English as a global language (Jacewicz & Fox, 2015).
For many years, the spread and influence of American English remains described as globalization, westernization, Americanization embodying a popular culture exported to various parts of the world. In today’s world Englishes in South Africa, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, and other countries, Americanization can be heard with American expressions, pronunciations, and words.
Canadian populations use English and French as the official languages. However, the population exhibits different characteristics; some are bilingual while others have a mother tongue other than English and French. Canadian English entails some traces of indigeneity but draws mainly from its close ties with French settlers and the UK (Boberg, 2017).
According to historical records, Canadian English remains American because most people originated from American colonies and, at the same time, not American due to rejection of the newly independent nation. Although Canadian English has its unique features, French being the other official language, influences it greatly. This aspect can be heard in some technical terms of ice hockey. Both American and British English provide sources of vocabulary for Canadian English.
Boberg, C. (2017). Archival data on earlier Canadian English. Listening to the Past: Audio Records of Accents of English, 375-94.
Jacewicz, E., & Fox, R. A. (2015). Eliciting sociophonetic variation in vowel duration. In ICPhS.
Salmons, J. C., & Purnell, T. (2020). Contact and the development of American English. The handbook of language contact, 361-383.