28 September 2020
For dessert on the British English vs. American English series, we've prepared an article on the biggest difference - pronunciation. It is so huge that even native speakers often do not fully understand other dialects of English, even if they try very hard. Below we will describe a few of the most significant distinctions.
At the end of a word, this letter is not pronounced in most dialects of British, they are not lazy, it is just very fashionable (for more details, see the article "Differences between American and British English - a quiz").
At the beginning and in the middle of a word, the British pronounce the “r” “softer”, which is more complicated to hear.
Also note that there are some American dialects that do not pronounce the “r” at the end of a word. These accents are common in some cities in Northeast America and in some areas of the southern United States (yes, yes, the pronunciation also differs depending on regions of the US and the UK).
A common characteristic of the American dialect is that the "t" sound is more like "d". In British English, this is less common and the "t" sound is usually more pronounced.
Another difference in the pronunciation of "t" is that in American the sound is often not even pronounced at all. For example, at the end of some short words such as “what”, most Americans would say something like “wha” (this is one of those reasons why they are so difficult to understand).
Another case when native speakers of American do not pronounce "t" is when the "t" follows the letter "n". A typical example is the word "international". If a Briton said that, you would probably hear the first "t". But many Americans would eliminate it, and that would be more like "inernational." Please note - this applies to everyday speech. In formal business situations, or if they are trying to speak as clearly as possible, the "t" is pronounced clearly. Wish that would always be so!)
There are many differences between the pronunciation of vowels, some of the explanations are technical and can be confusing for beginner students.
For example, the letter "a", usually pronounced [æ], is a sound made up of "a" and "e" combined into one letter. But, sometimes, in British English this sound is pronounced as [ɑ:]. For example, dance / dɑːns / (Brit.) / Dæns / (Amer.) Or after /ˈɑːf.tər/ (Brit.) /ɚf.t (/ (Amer.) You can compare and listen to the pronunciation of almost all existing words in both English at the Cambridge Dictionary website.
And finally, the promised icing on the cake - we want to share with you some resources that will help you hear and understand the differences.
Thanks for improving your English with us! Bye-bye!
Author: Andrew Shapovalov
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