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56

If your target audience is the world, then you target not only people with a knowledge of American English, British English, and so on, but also people like myself, to whom English is not a mother tongue but a foreign language. If reaching these people is important to you, then you might want to write in a relatively simple English, avoiding not only ...


48

Dinner is considered to be the "main" or largest meal of the day. Whether it takes place at noon or in the evening is mostly a cultural thing. For instance, many people who grew up in the American South and/or on farms traditionally ate larger meals at noontime to give them the strength to keep working through the afternoon. Supper is more specifically a ...


46

There really isn't much of a basis in fact at all, but it has some non-fiction roots. "Nearly all of our notions of their behavior come from the golden age of fictional piracy, which reached its zenith in 1881 with the appearance of Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island." - Adams, C. "The Straight Dope", October 12, 2007 The Straight Dope – Fighting ...


35

I've heard the "needs washed" construction so many times that it sounds completely normal to me. Your other three examples, however, don't sound familiar. I'm having a tough time thinking of a set rule for dropping "to be." I think it could work with want in addition to need, e.g. "The baby wants changed." But I can't think of other verbs that it would ...


34

"Thy" is an English word that means "your" in the second person singular. English used to have a distinction between singular and plural in the second person, such that we had the following: Singular: thou, thee, thy Plural: ye, you, your Nowadays, we just have "you" and "your" in place of those six distinct words (which is why in nonstandard English, ...


33

I would say successfull is a typo. Neither Merriam-Webster nor Wiktionary mention it as an alternative spelling. The British National Corpus has 10695 cites for successful and exactly one for successfull. According to OneLook, 33 dictionaries have an entry for successful, but only Wordnik has a few cites for successfull (without a definition). Edit: by ...


30

My initial thought is that bad at (or good at) is followed by a word that describes some kind of activity and that bad with (or good with), is followed by the name of a thing or a type of person. It works with at least the following: Bad at: swimming, math, lying, football, acting, planning, French, cooking, chess Bad with: children, his hands, money, ...


29

It's completely regional. You will find, in addition to "soda" and "pop," such terms as "soft drink," "coke" and "tonic." Note that "coke" in this instance is used generically to indicate any fizzy soft drink. "Do you want a coke?" "Sure, thanks." "OK, what kind? We have Sprite, Coke, Diet..." Here's a map that breaks down some of the regional variation: ...


28

This is a construction that is restricted to certain dialects of US English. In Standard English, it is not grammatical. (This construction is also often stigmatized, which means you would want to be especially careful before using it — you could be judged!) However, this construction is used systematically in certain dialects of American English. To ...


28

Yes and no. Reading around on the internet, it seems that this was originally just an error (and still is one for most native English speakers), but in some non-native-speaker speech communities it has become established as a common usage. From Paul Brians’ Common Errors in English Usage The most common meaning of “revert” is “to return to an earlier ...


27

What do we mean by "dialect"? First of all, let me say that the distinction between "dialect", "slang", and "language" is fuzzy, arbitrary, and fundamentally a social (cultural, political) construct. Two dialects of the same language can be mutually unintelligible (e.g. Moroccan and Baghdadi Arabic — significantly different on every level), while two ...


26

The a- prefix is a reduction of Old English an/on, meaning on, used to express progressive aspect. English used to have more of a distinction between present simple and present progressive; what we now say as “the times are changing” was expressed in Old English as “the times change”. In order to emphasise the progressive aspect (the times are currently in ...


26

what other kind of student is there? College students. Private students. Home-schooled students. Student drivers. As Keshlam noted in a comment: It says "school students" because if it just said 'students" many of us would indeed translate it as "student drivers." Which is a somewhat different kind of hazard. A car full of school students isn't likely ...


25

I would suggest writing in the version of English you are most comfortable with. That's what you'll communicate in most clearly, and everyone else will understand it from that domain.


23

This phenomenon is called metathesis. I humbly direct you to my answer to a related question for details. Here, I will just note that aks goes back to Old English, where there were two versions of the verb, ascian and acsian. See this Language Log post: As the [Oxford English Dictionary] explains, the verb form spelled "ax", and meaning "To call upon any ...


22

This varies greatly by geography. In the Southeastern United States, it is not uncommon for some women to address or answer people--even strangers--of either sex with terms of endearment, such as Honey, Sugar, Sweetie, Darling, Baby, etc. This practice is so intimately associated with "The South," that it will almost always be awkward or at best unusual ...


19

I have lived in various cities throughout the US, and I have never heard anyone use "paper bag" to refer to all types of bags when shopping. If I went to the supermarket and asked for a paper bag and were given a plastic bag (or vice versa), I would assume that the person was not paying attention to what I was saying. This type of extension or ...


19

I grew up in West Lancashire (near the Yorkshire border), and pretty well every one of my parents generation used thee, thou, thy and thine. The first three were sometimes combined into a multipurpose “tha”. Along with this perseverence of the informal second person singular, the equivalent verb form was still often used, e.g. “where goest thou?” instead ...


18

A few answers here give good sources for various words that are commonly used when 'talking like a pirate'. It may surprise some of you to learn though, that the 'accent' that most people go with (Rolled 'R's, dropped 'h's, gruff voice, etc.) actually originates from Robert Newton, the actor who played Long John Silver in the first sound production of ...


18

This terminology dates back to the Anglo-Norman Kings who, having conquered Saxon England, started collecting taxes methodically, of which The Domesday Book is a famous example. For accounting, they were using a large board with rows and columns not unlike a chessboard, or un échiquier in French (from Persian origin, imported via Latin). The person ...


17

In working-class families in the North of England, dinner was traditionally the noon-time meal, and there is an afternoon or evening meal called tea. However, this is changing to some extent as people move about and some try to sound more "Southern". (English usage in the South of England, or sometimes, more particularly the South-East, is generally taken to ...


17

Harvard's Dialect Survey had the question, "What is the distinction between dinner and supper?" Here's the geographic distribution of their results from 10,661 American respondents:


16

In the UK, this is referred to as a level crossing, the name implying that the road and rails are on the same level, as opposed to one going over the other via a bridge or tunnel. The red and white things are barriers. They lower or come down to block the road. So your example sentence becomes: "At the level crossing, when the barriers finally came ...


16

This is the cot-caught merger, where the sounds /ɑ/ and /ɔ/ are merged—that is, people with this merger pronounce the words cot and caught the same. This merger is quite widespread—it is more common than not all over the western United States and Canada, and has made inroads in the east as well. Map of the cot-caught merger, from the TELSUR Project. ...


15

Only full is spelled with two Ls. All other -ful words are spelled with only one L: helpful, successful, skillful, beautiful.


15

You might be interested in The TELSUR Project, which is a high-granularity phonological survey of North American dialects. Note that the information presented on that site is very detailed and highly technical. In particular, there is an overview of major dialect regions, of which they distinguish five major groups: West (basically everything west of the ...


15

Merriam-Webster (usually a good guide for rhotic US accents) gives \ˈwu̇s-tə(r)-ˌshir, -shər also -ˌshī(-ə)r\.  The OED doesn’t give a rhotic alternative at all, just /ˈwʊstəʃə(r)/.  Checking a few random other sources, I can’t find any suggesting that the first r should be pronounced. I’d guess (fairly confidently) that a rhotic BrE speaker would say ...


15

In AmE/culture: 'lunch' is the midday meal (11:30am-1:30pm), however large it is (if you're eating something around that time, and you don't eat something bigger around that time, that was your lunch). If you eat your midday meal at 3pm, that's kind of a late lunch, but it wouldn't be called anything else. That is, in AmE, 'lunch' = midday meal; a midday ...


15

You may be thinking of a Mid-Atlantic accent; it's a blend between an American accent and an English accent. As the Wikipedia article notes, film stars like Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn used it, and more recently Cheers and Frasier star Kelsey Grammer. You can hear it with Grant and Hepburn in 1940's The Philadelphia Story (clip on YouTube). ...


15

There are way too many English dialects to list, but the general definition of a dialect is: Dialects are linguistic varieties which differ in pronunciation, vocabulary and grammar from each other and from Standard English (which is itself a dialect). I actually did find a simplified tree of English dialects, and it shows the changes that occurred ...



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