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English is a language that belongs to the Germanic branch of the Indo-European language family. Within the Germanic languages, English together with German, Dutch and Frisian constitute the West Germanic language group.
Prevalence and variants of English
English is the mother tongue and main language of about 350 million people in the UK, Ireland, USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. Furthermore, English is the official language, teaching and administrative language of many countries in Africa, Asia, Oceania and the Caribbean. English is also the most important foreign language in the school in the other countries of the world, and it plays a vital role as an international language of assistance.
The English language is used far beyond its original area in southern England today. Over time, it has gained a foothold as the main language in the former Celtic-speaking parts of the British Isles: Wales, Scotland and Ireland. With the British colonization and the growth of the British Commonwealth, English was widely used throughout much of the New World. The largest English-speaking community today is the United States. Australia and New Zealand are also practically English-speaking countries. The spoken languages in these new areas have many distinctive features that distinguish them from British-English. When it comes to the written language, the differences are far less prominent, and this therefore helps to preserve the linguistic unit.
The English standard language (British-English) is geographically linked to the South of England, and this applies not least to the pronunciation norm that has been called Received Pronunciation, abbreviated RP. This norm, also referred to as Oxford English or BBC English, has strong social preconditions as it attained its prestige position as the language of the higher classes, boarding schools, universities and state administration. Deviations from this standard language can therefore be both geographically and socially conditional. RP’s position in institutions such as the BBC and prestige universities is no longer as strong as before.
Despite the fact that industrialization, education, mass media and other factors have been highly equalizing, there are still distinct dialect differences in the everyday language in England. For example, the Northern dialects have the vowel [u] where RP has [ʌ] in words like but, come and [a] for [æ] in words like man, hat. Southwest is pronounced [r] in words like father, hard like in for example American-English.
In Wales, just over 500,000 people speak Welsh, but the vast majority also use English. The other Welsh population (about 82 percent) uses only English. In the English spoken in Wales, either as a native speaker or as a second language, one can often trace Welsh influence on the pronunciation, especially the intonation, and sometimes on the syntax. The written language follows the standard English standard.
In Scotland, Scottish-Gaelic is spoken in the Highlands and the Hebrides, but only about 60,000 people master it. In the lowlands, Scottish dialects of English have been used since the early Middle Ages. The Scottish dialects were originally associated with the Northern English. The most distinctive dialects of Scottish English are considered by some to be a native language, Scots, and Scotland had its own written language between 1450 and 1600 which differed greatly from the South English London standard. Apart from special literature in Low Scottish, the written language in Scotland is now virtually identical to the English standard. In the spoken language you find some differences from standard British-English, especially in the pronunciation of diphthongs and consonants r.
English came to Ireland at the conquest of Dublin and other East Irish cities around 1170, but in the first centuries did not extend beyond the eastern counties and was for some time firmly established only in the area called The English Pale, the land along the north coast and south of Dublin. It was only after the wars and colonization in the 16th and 16th centuries that English became more widely used. In the first half of the 19th century, however, a large part of the country was still Irish-speaking. Irish-English, as it is now used by most of the majority of the island of Ireland, has retained, on the one hand, archaic features from 16th-century English as well as dialect reflecting the origins of western central England. On the other hand, Irish-English is strongly influenced by Gaelicboth in pronunciation and phraseology in that the language was used by a population that had Gaelic as its original mother tongue. Farther north, in the province of Ulster, however, the colonists were largely Protestants who came from south-west Scotland. They brought with them the Low Scottish variant of English that came to characterize the language of this part of the island.
Emigration to North America began in the 1600s, and American English has today some archaic features in both the phraseology and pronunciation, for example, fall ( autumn ), I guess ( I suppose ), sick ( ill ), gotten ( got ), the pronunciation of ash, bath and so on with the vowel / æ / and in some places also with the pronunciation of, for example, name and home with a little or no diphthonged vowel. Other discrepancies are due to the fact that American-English and British-English have chosen their own expression for new phenomena, for example railroad ( railway ), streetcar ( tram ), elevator ( lift ), gasoline ( petrol ). Since many of the emigrants spoke a language that also deviated from the standard in the home country, it is understandable that American-English meanwhile more closely matches British dialects in word choice, such as sour ( certainly ), I reckon ( I think ), candy ( sweets ) and rooster ( cock ); in grammar, as in the use of shall andwill ; and in pronunciation. American-English has recorded a large number of words from other languages, for example from Native American languages with words such as canoe, hickory; French prairie, dime ; Spanish ranch, bonanza ; Dutch boss, Santa Claus ; and German hamburger, the delicacy. Finally, Americans have shown great ingenuity in their use of the inherited language and have formed a wide variety of painting ways, such as tenderfoot, two hit the ceiling, two muscle in and two get under one’s skin.
American orthography differs in some respects from British-English practice. After the War of Independence in the 18th century, Noah Webster proposed new rules of law in order to remove the language of America from the British standard. Most of the amendments were later stated. Among those who have been accepted are -or for British -our, for example in color, honor and labor ; -is for -re, for example in the center, meters and theater; various practices of doubling consonant in inflected forms and derivatives, such as marveled, marvelous, worshiped and worshiping instead of forms with – ll-, -pp- in British-English; and simplified forms as catalog, check, program corresponding British English catalog, Checks, programming.
The language in the United States is fairly uniform, and local deviations in grammar and vocabulary are relatively small compared to, for example, the dialect differences in the United Kingdom. However, on the basis of the pronunciation, one can distinguish between different dialect areas, most clearly in the states of the east coast and in the nearest areas within. A common subdivision covers these main areas: Northeastern, which includes Eastern New England and New York City ; Southern, from Virginia southwest to Texas and subdivided into a coastal and inland area; and General American, which covers the rest of the country but reaches the coast only a short distance, roughly from New Jersey to Delaware under names such as Central Eastern or Middle Atlantic. General American has tried to divide in different ways, but when you get further west it is harder to find clear dialect criteria.
Thus, General American encompasses by far the largest part of the country and population and is the pronunciation often associated with the term American accent. Of the characteristics of this accent, besides the aforementioned vocal pronouns may be mentioned: a backward ( retroflex ) r in sound and in front of consonant, as in fur and farm ; rounding and extending o in hot and cod and so on, so that it resembles the British pronunciation of heart and card ; lapse of the j sound in front of u after t, d and n, as in Tuesday, duty and new ; tend to replace intervocalic t as laughter and better with an alveolar flap as more reminiscent of a d ; and ensformigere intonation. Several of these characteristics are not found in the other dialect types. In Northeastern, which is closer to the South English pronunciation norm, for example, r is not pronounced in sound and in front of consonant. The same is true in parts of Southern.
An ethnic and socially conditioned dialect is the so-called African American Vernacular English (AAVE), which is used primarily among the black population and especially in lower social strata, especially in the cities. The origins of AAVE are contested. One page claims that the starting point is in the pidgin language that the slaves learned to use during transport from Africa, which later developed into a Creole language. This Creole language was further altered under the influence of language use in the Southern States and even made its mark on the emergence of a distinctive Southern state dialect (Southern). Another side believes in explaining the fact that the majority of the black population in US cities originally came from the southeastern states. Therefore, many of the peculiarities of AAVE can be traced back to the Southern State Dialogue. Used outside its territory, the original dialect features could signal ethnic belonging.
Canada has two official languages, English and French. English is used by almost two-thirds of the population. The spoken language is close to the US language, both in pronunciation and manner of expression. As a sharp distinction is difficult to draw, Canadian-English could be said to be a variant within a larger North American-English language area. The more formal language of writing and speech is somewhat more conservative than American-English, and the British influence is still noticeable especially in the big cities.
While English in North America has a history dating back to the early 17th century, the spread of English to the later British colonies first came in the 19th century.
In Australia, the written language follows the British standard. In the spoken language, there are small differences between the different parts of the continent. On the other hand, there are clearer differences based on social conditions. Formed language ( Cultivated Australian English ) is close up to standard English, RP still enjoys great reputation, although it has slowed over the past few decades. On the opposite side is a broad dialect variant ( Broad Australian English ) which differs quite strongly from the standard language. Between these two types lies the language usage of the vast majority, with more moderate deviations ( General Australian English ).
Several of the Australian-English features reflect the language of the first and largest groups of exiles and others who came to the country from 1788. They came primarily from southern and eastern England with London as the centerpiece. Therefore, there are features of Australian-English pronunciation that resemble the traditional dialect of the London area of England (see cockney ). In the vocabulary, words for particular Australian phenomena have been included, partly through loans from Aboriginal languages such as boomerang, dingo, kangaroo and wombat ; partly through new forms such as friarbird and overland. There has also been some influence from American-English.
In New Zealand, the connection to British-English is somewhat stronger than in Australia. As in Australia, there is little variation in language usage geographically, while there are clear differences that are socially dependent. The spoken language has some in common with Australian-English, which is because both variants have a South-English background. In New Zealand, however, the cockney feature of the London metropolis is lacking, and the dialects in the countryside have played a greater role. There is also an element of Scottish and Northern English influence that can be traced in certain pronunciations, and which is also reflected in the many Scottish place names, especially on the South Island. The language has recorded a good deal of Maori words, especially in connection with local and native conditions and concepts, such as pakeha, “White person”, unlike Maori ; rangatira, “Maori chief”; whare, “native cottage, house”.
In South Africa, English has official language status alongside African and a number of African languages and is spoken as the mother tongue of nearly 4 million by a population of approximately 42.5 million (2004). There are 6 million African speakers, but many of them have English as their second language. In the countryside, Afrikaans dominates; in the larger cities English stands stronger. English was preferred by the black population as a medium in the fight against apartheid and in turn was counteracted by Africans and their organizations. In the written language and in the cultured spoken language, the difference from the British standard is small. Otherwise, you can register deviations ranging from moderate to broadly popular. Some of the peculiarities of the English used by the white population can be traced back to immigration from industrial central England. Other traits may be due to influences from Africans, who have also left strong clues in the vocabulary, such as village, kraal, veld, trek, hartebeest and reebok. The variety of English used by the black population has many distinctive features in common with other African variants of English and carries the influence of influence from African languages.
In India, the use of English is a result of colonial times. English was used in administration, the judiciary, schools, universities and business, and a middle class was created that was fully or partially educated in English and that used English in a job context. Only a small proportion of the population consider English as their mother tongue; many more have English as a second language. In total, the number of those who regularly use English is estimated at only about 3 per cent, but of a population of 1065 million (2004) this amounts to just under 32 million. In addition, all those with a lesser degree of language proficiency can understand English. English is still used both as an official language next to Hindiand in a number of other areas. There is still a considerable English-language press, and an extensive literature in English written by Indian writers has emerged.
English, as it is used in India, is often more or less strongly characterized by the fact that the language users have a multilingual background with at least one local language in addition to English. Indian-English differs from other variants in pronunciation, intonation and syntax, and in the vocabulary many words of Indian origin occur.
Other parts of the world
In the other parts of the former British colonial kingdom, English is still widely used as an official language. English as the mother tongue for larger and smaller white population groups still exists in countries such as Zimbabwe, Namibia, Zambia and Kenya. As a mother tongue in a predominantly black population, English ( West Indian Standard English ) is used especially by people with education and in higher societies in Jamaica and other parts of the Caribbean, while the majority here speak Creole as a native language. As a second language, English is used in the former British colonies in both West Africa and East Africa and further east in Asia in countries such as Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Singapore. For example, one million of Ghana’s 15 million inhabitants are said to have English as a second language. Use as a second language shows local characteristics, the degree of language mastery varies greatly, and its applications range from administration, teaching and the press to function as a lingua franca, a language of assistance between parties who do not speak each other’s mother tongue.
English is also found as a component of secondary-developed blend languages. Many so-called pidgin languages have English as their starting point. These have a greatly simplified grammar and a reduced vocabulary with input from local languages. Pidgin language is not used as a native language, but serves as a language of lingua franca, such as West African pidgin plays an important role as a trading language. English-based pidgin language occurs both in West Africa and in the regions on the opposite side of the Atlantic. These Atlantic pidgin languages have common roots back to the slave era. Other English-language pidgins are found in the East and in the Pacific.
When a language community begins to use a pidgin language as their mother tongue, this develops into a so-called Creole language. Especially in the Caribbean and in West Africa, there are a number of such languages based on English and with language from African languages. An example is the Creole language crisis used in Sierra Leone. There is a literature on crisis and a movement that wants to make crisis the country’s national language. The use of crisis has also spread to other parts of West Africa. Gullah is the name of a language of a similar type spoken by the black population of the islands off the coast of South Carolina and Georgia in the United States. Many common features have been identified with the West African Creole languages. After the colonial era, the Caribbean Creole languages gained importance and status. This applies not least to the so-called Jamaican Creole used by 70 percent of the population in the country, which many want to become Jamaica’s national language. Such tendencies for the development of independent languages on the basis of English are reminiscent of the emergence of the Romanian languages from various popular forms of the Latin language.
The following is a complete list of top English colleges and universities in the United States of America.
Top 10 English in the United States
|1||University of California–Berkeley||Berkeley, CA|
|2||Stanford University||Stanford, CA|
|3||Yale University||New Haven, CT|
|4||Columbia University||New York, NY|
|5||Harvard University||Cambridge, MA|
|6||University of Pennsylvania||Philadelphia, PA|
|7||Cornell University||Ithaca, NY|
|8||Princeton University||Princeton, NJ|
|9||University of Chicago||Chicago, IL|
|10||Duke University||Durham, NC|