To some people, English language is English language. But to those who know, there are major differences between the many variants of English language; precisely the differences between British and American English. Unfortunately, many Nigerians (who are supposed to be British English speakers by the way) very often make the mistake of confusing American spelling patterns with English ones.  Some would even resort to using both American and English spelling patterns in the same document. That is totally unacceptable, which is why I am addressing this post to teenagers so that they may  take note of the differences between the two variants. Please see some of said differences in the subsequent paragraphs.

Let us talk about the vocabulary. Perhaps this is the major difference between British and American English. There are countless numbers of different words that are used by both the British and Americans to talk about the same thing. For example, a person who speaks British English would refer the front end of a car as a bonnet whereas an American speaker would call the same thing hood. And while British English language speakers would say “we are going on a holiday”, American speakers would say “we are going on vacation.” There are more examples; British speakers live in “flats” whereas American speakers would call it “apartments.” By the way, here in Lagos one would really sound rather stupid to say s/he lives in an apartment. People live in flats here; please!

american-english-vs-british-english

Now there is the issue of spelling. There are hundreds of minor spelling differences between British and American English. According to history, a man named Noah Webster who was an authour, a teacher and a politician and lived around the 1700s took it upon himself to reform English spelling and create from it a unique American variant.  He was said to have been frustrated by what he called “the inconsistencies” of English language and wanted to spell words exactly the way they sounded. How lame! Anyway, the only tenable reason I deduced from Webster’s decision to create a unique American spelling is that it was a way of showing independence from England.

In any case, Webster’s endeavour has created such confusion in English language such that even when you write with these damn American laptops, they simply highlights your British spellings and makes you look stupid; whereas you are not. Please for crying out loud, the word is “programme” not “program.” And when you are talking about words like “colour”, “favour” and “honour” etc, you spell them exactly as I have done. It is not “color”, “favor” or “honor” except of course you are in New York or wherever.

There are several other differences between British and American English but the ones we have discussed above are the most obvious ones. I hope you all take note and be reminded once again that Nigerians speak British English instead of American English. The dictionary can be a good guide to lay bare much more of the differences between British and American English especially as it pertains to spelling and pronunciation. Please pay attention to your dictionary. Be best!

British and American