[DWJ] Varieties of English was Re: What are you reading?

Otter Perry ottertee at silverwinggraphics.com
Thu Nov 5 12:15:18 EST 2009

On Nov 5, 2009, at 9:26 AM, Melissa Proffitt wrote:

> On Thu, 5 Nov 2009 08:25:34 +0000, Roger Burton West wrote:
>> On Wed, Nov 04, 2009 at 10:00:13AM -0700, Melissa Proffitt wrote:
>>> (See how I said "different from"?  I know all-y'all on the other  
>>> side of the
>>> Atlantic say "different to" and I am always conscious of the  
>>> difference when
>>> I say or write it.)
>> Hang on, I thought you were in the USA? "Different to" in BrE is
>> generally a sign of an uneducated or careless writer, or at least
>> someone deliberately trying for that voice.
> Whether or not it's *acceptable* in British English, Americans just  
> don't
> use that construction ever.  <snip>  This
> particular phrase was pointed out to my college linguistics class  
> by the
> professor (who was Australian and a wealth of information about how
> Australians and New Zealanders really have very different accents)  
> as part
> of a discussion on regional variants.  <snip>  It's stuck with me all
> these years.  Not that I'm trying to tell the English how they  
> speak, of
> course, so I'm glad to have more specific input from you.
> Otter, we also talked about "different than" and concluded that it  
> must be
> some localized phenomenon.  I say that all the time and I don't  
> know where I
> picked it up, because I lived all over the US while I was growing  
> up (but
> never in New England).

I find that in some [many?]  cases I don't even notice the difference
between what I say and what other people say.  I was somewhat surprised
when some Canadians chuckled about how typically American was my use of
this expression:  to express the time 10:45, I say 'quarter _of_  
They say 'quarter _to_ eleven' or 'quarter _before_ eleven'.  Hmmmm.
Makes sense, of course -- I just hadn't noticed it.

What I _do_ notice are differences in pronunciation.  I notice that
at least _some_ residents of the UK tend to emphasize an
earlier syllable in long words.  My sample is small and is based mostly
on Audible readers, particularly Nigel Planer and Stephen Briggs, who
are the principal readers of Terry Pratchett.  [I will resist the urge
to expatiate on their relative merits and particularly the urge to
enumerate Mr. Planer's more egregious mistakes.]


I had a girlfriend who told me she was in the hospital for
female problems. I said, “Get real! What does that mean?”
She says, “You know, female problems.” I said, “What?
You can’t parallel park? You can’t get credit?”

                                        --- Pam Stone

More information about the Dwj mailing list