“Learning another language is not only learning different words for the same things, but learning another way to think about things.” - Flora Lewis
We can’t say it enough, but English is part of so many people’s everyday lives whether for work or for socialising or just for getting by in a foreign country.
There are private tutorials and language courses available online but these usually just teach one variety of English. The English language has a number of different versions across all the continents where it’s spoken and all the countries that speak it as an official language.
English is the official language of 54 sovereign states and is spoken by over 300 million people as their first language. This is a great reason to look at the different forms of English, different English dialects, and varieties of English from around the world.
Each of these countries has changed English in their own way and in this article, we’re going to take a trip around the world of English. Different countries have different pronunciation (especially for vowel sounds), grammar, phrases, slang, grammatical structures, and words that mean one thing to some English speakers mean something completely different to other people who speak English.
Where we're going, your Oxford dictionary mightn't be of much use!
What Is Australian English?
Australia, with its marvellous wildlife and landscapes, is enough to make anyone want to go there, isn’t it?
However, you should be aware that the English spoken there is different to the English spoken in the United Kingdom and the United States of America.
Put simply, it’s just another form of English. No need to panic. You should be able to understand it without too much trouble, especially if you’re doing a language stay or travelling to the country.
From a linguistic point of view, there are three main types of Australian English, which often are related to either social class and education.
There's Broad is Australian English, spoken with a strong accent, general Australian English, and cultivated Australian English. These three categories show just how rich Australian English is, but it shouldn’t be something to put off learners.
The English language in Australia differs from other variants of English due to the history of the language in the country. When the Colony of New South Wales was founded, there was a mix of English, Irish, and German settlers.
Australia gained independence in 1901 and Australian English was mainly influenced by British English. It was also affected by American English and now has its own vocabulary, phonetics, pronunciation, and identity.
There are a number of expressions that are typically Australian. Including:
- Mate: While this term means “friend”, you can use it to punctuate almost any sentence in Australian sentence. Australians refer to each other as mate, even if they’re not mates at all.
- Good day: Say goodbye to the boring “hello” and “good morning” and say hello to “g’day”, the most Australian of greetings.
- Aussie: A nickname for an Australian person.
- Drongo: This term is used for a dummy or a fool. It’s not very nice, so we hope you never have to use it.
- And much more!
Of course, all these terms need to be said with the local accent! For, the letter “a” sometimes sounds like an “i” or an “e”. Thus, “cat” might sound like “kit” or “ket” to the untrained ear. That said, Australians are really friendly, so don’t worry about making mistakes.
Another type of recognisable English is Scottish English.
But what exactly is it?
The Specificities of Scottish English
To learn English, there’s nothing better than practising with native speakers. It doesn’t matter whether they’re from England, Ireland, Scotland, or Wales, they’re all great teachers. However, certain versions of English can be harder to learn than others.
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This is probably the reputation that Scottish English has, especially for those just starting to learn English online or at home.
Let’s have a look!
Scottish English is also known as Scottish Standard English. It originated as a mix between Scots and English in the 17th century in the northernmost parts of Britain. Of course, Scottish English has evolved since then and developed its own pronunciation, expressions, vocabulary, and identity.
Nevertheless, we should add that, like with a lot of English variants, there are also regional accents within Scotland and various places have their own ways of speaking.
Scottish often uses the diminutive “ie” at the end of words. This diminutive suffix makes the noun smaller. Typically, Scots use “laddie” (lad + ie) to mean “young boy” and “lassie” (lass + ie) to mean “young girl”.
While not the typical variant of English you’ll learn, it can be useful to start with the written form as the differences aren’t as obvious.
By using local media resources, you can improve your English and learn more about Scottish English. There are local versions of television channels and radio stations such as BBC Scotland and BBC Alba (in Scottish Gaelic) to help immerse yourself in the local culture.
Don’t forget you can also learn English online!
The Origins and Particularities of Irish English
“Language is the roadmap of a culture. It tells you where its people came from and where they are going.” - Rita Mae Brown
Ireland is an interesting English-speaking country. This country has two official languages, English and Irish.
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Even though Ireland had as many dialects as regions, English was brought over to the country by English colonists in the 13th century. Bit by bit, English created its own Irish identity, which was widely spoken by the 17th century.
There were also people speaking Irish, a language that was thought as less cultured than English. That said, Irish was the mother tongue of the Irish people. However, over time, English became more and more common. Irish English came into its own and differentiated itself from standard English.
While Irish English may be quite difficult for absolute beginners to master, once you get a good grasp of the English language, there’s nothing to stop you learning this interesting variant of the language.
For example, Irish English, unlike other forms of English, the letter “g” at the end of words is almost never pronounced. You’ll hear mornin’ and walkin’ instead of morning and walking. Add this to a quickly spoken dialect, and you’ll see how tricky it might be to understand. You’ll need to concentrate!
To help you, make sure that you use local resources to help you learn Irish English more quickly. Books (by Joyce, Beckett, or Wilde) are useful gateways to the Irish culture and language and can work wonders for learning the language.
You should also consider reading newspapers like The Irish Times and Metro Éireann to study English and learn more about what’s going on in the English-speaking world, especially in Ireland.
If you’re going to learn a second language, learn as much about your second language as possible. Next up, we’ve got American English.
So What Is American English?
As you might be aware, American English is almost everywhere. It’s the most common form of English and is heard almost everywhere around the world. With TV series, films, and music, American English is widespread outside of the United States.
Even though the United States has a relatively short history, American English, much like the US, gained its independence from the British. American English is often considered easier to learn than other variants of English because of just how common it is in everyone’s daily lives.
Who hasn’t heard of Ernest Hemingway, CNN, or the New York Times?
There are so many American resources to help you learn more about the language and the culture. These will help you with both American vocabulary and spelling. Color instead of colour, theater instead of theatre, sweater instead of jumper, American English is the way to go to make yourself understood in everyday life.
Whichever type of English you’re learning, English is spoken in many places around the world and is a great language to learn if you want to understand the world we live in. While nobody can agree on how to speak English, the important thing for a learner to realise is that the best dialect to use is the one they use where you are.
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