English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I've been working on a thesis concerning the differences between British English and American English. I studied that in the past a standardization of American English was refused, even if spoken and written language were two different things in the United States, and this was because of the opposition of English purists. Today, American newspapers and academic books are written in American English? I mean, for example, they try not to use the past perfect or the present perfect where the British would use it and they prefer the past simple? In the educational system, is standard English that is taught or American English?

share|improve this question

closed as not a real question by RegDwigнt Dec 9 '11 at 14:19

It's difficult to tell what is being asked here. This question is ambiguous, vague, incomplete, overly broad, or rhetorical and cannot be reasonably answered in its current form. For help clarifying this question so that it can be reopened, visit the help center.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

In the US, American English is standard English. – onomatomaniak Dec 9 '11 at 14:07
We don't try to do anything with the past perfect or the present perfect. We just write using the tenses we are accustomed to using, which means that occasionally there are places where the British would use the present perfect, and we would use the past simple. – Peter Shor Dec 9 '11 at 14:11
@Alessandro: We are taught standard American English. This is different from standard British English (for example, gotten is not a word in British English). Pronunciation is only discussed when children are learning to read. Since actual American pronunciation differs in some words across the U.S. (cot/caught being the most significant difference), it may be that this is taught differently in different areas of the country. – Peter Shor Dec 9 '11 at 14:23
Your question assumes wrongly that there is a marked difference between American and British in written records and that whatever differences there are, only one of BrE and AmE is standard. In written English, what is taught in school, the primary difference is spelling: eg BrE 'colour' vs AmE 'color'. Both sides are writing 'standard' English because they are not appreciably different (ie, English isn't like Italian). As to informal speech, there's lots different, especially pronunciation and vocabulary, but it ain't taught in school. – Mitch Dec 9 '11 at 14:40
@AlessandroMosca: There is no "Standard English", that is, in America, "Standard English" is "American English" and in the UK "Standard English" is "British English". (and in Canada "Standard English" is Canadian English, etc). Your question is flawed because it assumes some level of importance for British English, but non-British people don't hold the British dialect in such high esteem. – Mr. Shiny and New 安宇 Dec 9 '11 at 14:51

When I was a judge at an (American) high school literature contest some years ago, the "standard" was American English. It was with some difficulty that I persuaded my fellow judges NOT to penalize contestants that used "standard" (British) English.

share|improve this answer
so, do Americans learn AmE at school and not Standard English? I had a different answer in another forum, where people told me that Americans study English and that the differences are known by American people because they live in the USA, but they aren't thaught – Alessandro Mosca Dec 9 '11 at 14:07
AmE spelling is taught. British spelling is incorrect. I don't know what AmE words are different from British English words (except maybe for the past participles gotten and snuck, and gotten would be correct while snuck would be an acceptable alternative). No American public school would ever teach British English. (Although they could mention the differences when reading literature written in the U.K.) They would have to deal with a mob of enraged parents. – Peter Shor Dec 9 '11 at 14:28
@PeterShor Before dealing with enraged parents, they'd have to import a whole lot of teachers. – onomatomaniak Dec 9 '11 at 14:32
AmE words versus BrE words: No, public schools do not make us use words like tarmac and lorry. – Peter Shor Dec 9 '11 at 14:35
@Alessandro: "Are usually [American] students learnt BrE(standard English) or AmE?". American students learn the American versions of things. But there is no awareness that there is anything else to learn, or that their variety is possibly not acceptable (just as I'm sure most British feel). If anything, rural or regional variety speakers in both countries might feel pressure to use vocabulary and pronunciation of BrE or AmE (where the region lies). But the vast majority write in a common standard English (and where different are just not aware that heir version might not be standard). – Mitch Dec 9 '11 at 15:01

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.