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Why did Americans come up with new words for the British English words like "sidewalk" instead of "pavement"?

I only see a reason they omitted certain letters in some words, like "colour" - "color", but I don't see any reason why they would make their own words.

Why didn't they stick with the British words?

marked as duplicate by Mari-Lou A, AndyT, Community Nov 23 '17 at 16:59

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    Because that’s not how language works. Language is constantly in a state of change. The only static languages are the dead ones. – Dan Bron Nov 23 '17 at 12:37
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    "Stick with the British words"? What makes you think that it's generally a matter of abandoning an existing word, rather than separate evolution toward using different words? The British English you hear now is not the British English from which both the one you hear now and contemporary American English evolved.And both of those evolved only partly from that origin - both have ancestry/influence from other languages - multiple inheritance. The English language is not English. You might as well ask "Why didn't the British stick with the British words?" Things change. – Drew Nov 23 '17 at 18:13

It would be impossible to supply a general answer to this. It is a vast topic, and potentially the subject of a course of study.

Many years ago I read Mother Tongue by the Anglophile American, Bill Bryson, and if you are seriously interested in the matter I would recommend you to Bryson's work. He does go into it at some length.

However in answer to your specific question about "sidewalk", as I'm sure you realise the equivalent in Britain is "pavement".

Now "pavement" has existed since at least the 14th century as a paved area (not necessarily a footpath at the side of a road):

Sense 1a. A paved surface; a hard covering laid on the ground, outside or (less commonly) in a building, formed of stones, bricks, tiles, or similar materials fitted closely together, usually on a prepared bed of hard core; (also) a similar covering formed of a layer of cement, concrete, asphalt, etc. Now chiefly in technical contexts. In early use also occasionally: †the hard ground (obs.). (OED).

It did not specifically become associated with a raised path, next to a road, until the early 19th century. Jane Austen in Pride & Prejudice (1813) says:

Kitty and Lydia..led the way across the street..and fortunately had just gained the pavement when the two gentlemen turning back had reached the same spot.

Meanwhile in America, the word for the metalled part of the highway tended to be "pavement", which had been the case in Britain too, and still is in engineering circles.

And in the 18th century the Americans had adopted the word "sidewalk", which was nothing new. It is evident in Britain from the early 17th century.

1605 in W. M. Metcalfe Charters & Documents Burgh of Paisley (1902) 279 The utter sydewalk nuik of the bakehous.

1674 Dryden & W. Davenant Shakespeare's Tempest (new ed.) i. ii. 5
'Tis composed of three Walks of Cypress-trees, each Side-walk leads to a Cave... The Middle-Walk is of a great depth.

1718 S. Switzer Ichnographia rustica II. 197 A few of these Walks are absolutely necessary, in Respect to the Grandeur..of a Situation, as the Middle and Side Walk.

All above quotations from OED online

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    "Metalled" part of a highway? Is this another Britishism? We don't pave our highways with metal here. – Peter Shor Nov 23 '17 at 13:42
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    @Peter Shor OED "Metal adj" part II deals with "metal" used in senses not involving actual metals. There are examples from various industries including glassmaking. But the relevant one is sense 10 10. orig. Sc. Broken stone for use in road-building, or (occasionally) as ballast for railway lines. Also in pl. Now chiefly in road metal n. at road n. Compounds 6. Earliest example 1782, most recent 1961. It is in everyday use. I would certainly talk of a "metal road" replacing a track or unmade road. In the Australian outback the roads are either "unmade" or "sealed". But that's Down Under. – WS2 Nov 23 '17 at 14:05
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    'Metal' is, apparently, originally a Scottish mining term referring to mineral bearing ores. dsl.ac.uk/entry/snd/metal I assume that it was this spoil that was originally used in road making and macadamising. macadamising being the non-tarred version of tarmacadaming. oed.com/view/Entry/111752?redirectedFrom=macadamise#eid – Spagirl Nov 23 '17 at 15:41

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