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American English (AmE, AE, AmEng, USEng, en-US), sometimes called United States English or U.S. English, is the set of
varieties Variety may refer to: Science and technology Mathematics * Algebraic variety, the set of solutions of a system of polynomial equations * Variety (universal algebra), classes of algebraic structures defined by equations in universal algebra Hort ...
of the
English language English is a West Germanic language of the Indo-European language family The Indo-European languages are a language family A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech ( spoken language), g ...

English language
native to the United States. Currently, American English is the most influential form of English worldwide. English is the most widely spoken language in the United States and is the ''
de facto ''De facto'' ( ; , "in fact") describes practices that exist in reality, even though they are not officially recognized by laws. It is commonly used to refer to what happens in practice, in contrast with ''de jure'' ("by law"), which refers to th ...
'' common language used by the federal and state governments, to the extent that all laws and compulsory education presume English as the primary language. English is explicitly given official status by 32 of the 50 state governments. While the local courts in some divisions of the United States grant equivalent status to both English and another language—for example, English and Spanish in
Puerto Rico Puerto Rico (; abbreviated PR; tnq, Boriken, ''Borinquen''), officially the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico ( es, link=yes, Estado Libre Asociado de Puerto Rico, lit=Free Associated State of Puerto Rico) is a Caribbean island and Unincorporated ...

Puerto Rico
—under federal law, English is still the official language for any matters being referred to the
United States district court#REDIRECT United States district court The United States district courts are the general trial court A trial court or court of first instance is a court A court is any person or institution, often as a government institution, with the aut ...
for the territory. American English varieties include many patterns of pronunciation, vocabulary, grammar, and particularly spelling that are unified nationwide but distinct from other English dialects around the world. Any American or Canadian
accentAccent may refer to: Speech and language * Accent (sociolinguistics), way of pronunciation particular to a speaker or group of speakers * Accent (phonetics), prominence given to a particular syllable in a word, or a word in a phrase ** Pitch accen ...
perceived as free of noticeably local, ethnic, or cultural markers is popularly called
"General" or "Standard" American
, a fairly uniform accent continuum native to certain regions of the U.S. and associated nationally with broadcast mass media and highly educated speech. However, historical and present linguistic evidence does not support the notion of there being one single "mainstream" American accent. The sound of American English continues to evolve, with some local accents disappearing, but several larger regional accents having emerged in the 20th century.


History

The use of English in the United States is a result of
British colonization of the Americas The British colonization of the Americas was the history of establishment of control, settlement, and colonization of the continents of the Americas by England England is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the Un ...
. The first wave of English-speaking settlers arrived in North America during the 17th century, followed by further migrations in the 18th and 19th centuries. During the 17th century, dialects from many different regions of England existed in every American colony, allowing a process of extensive dialect mixture and
leveling Levelling (British English British English (BrE) is the standard dialect of the English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval England, w ...
in which English varieties across the colonies became more homogeneous compared with varieties in England. English thus predominated in the colonies even by the end of the 17th century's first massive immigration of non-English speakers from Europe and Africa, and firsthand descriptions of a fairly uniform American English became common after the mid-18th century. Since then, American English has developed into some new varieties, including regional dialects that, in some cases, show minor influences in the last two centuries from successive waves of immigrant speakers of diverse languages, primarily European languages.


Phonology

Compared with English as spoken in the United Kingdom, North American English is more homogeneous and any phonologically unremarkable North American accent is known as "
General American General American English or General American (abbreviated GA or GenAm) is the umbrella accentAccent may refer to: Speech and language * Accent (sociolinguistics), way of pronunciation particular to a speaker or group of speakers * Accent (p ...

General American
". This section mostly refers to such General American features.


Conservative phonology

Studies on historical usage of English in both the United States and the United Kingdom suggest that spoken American English did not simply deviate away from period British English, but is
conservative Conservatism is an aesthetic Aesthetics, or esthetics (), is a branch of philosophy that deals with the nature of beauty and taste (sociology), taste, as well as the philosophy of art (its own area of philosophy that comes out of aest ...
in some ways, preserving certain features contemporary
British English British English (BrE) is the standard dialect A standard language (also standard variety, standard dialect, and standard) is a language variety that has undergone substantial codification of grammar and usage and is employed by a populatio ...
has since lost. * Full rhoticity (or R-fulness) is typical of American accents, pronouncing the phoneme (corresponding to the letter ) in all environments, including after vowels, such as in ''pearl'', ''car'', and ''court''. Non-rhotic American accents, those that do not pronounce except before a vowel, such as some Eastern New England,
New York New York most commonly refers to: * New York City, the most populous city in the United States, located in the state of New York * New York (state), a state in the northeastern United States New York may also refer to: Film and television * New ...
, a specific few (often older)
Southern The name Southern may refer to: * South South is one of the cardinal directions or compass points. South is the opposite of north and is perpendicular to the east and west. Etymology The word ''south'' comes from Old English ''sūþ'', from earl ...

Southern
, and African American vernacular accents, are often quickly noticed by General American listeners and perceived to sound especially ethnic, regional, or "old-fashioned". Rhoticity is common in most American accents although it is now rare in England because during the 17th-century British colonization, nearly all dialects of English were rhotic, and most North American English simply remained that way. The preservation of rhoticity in North America was also supported by continuing waves of rhotic-accented Scotch-Irish immigrants, most intensely during the 18th century and moderately during the following two centuries, when the Scotch-Irish eventually made up one seventh of the colonial population. Scotch-Irish settlers spread from Delaware and Pennsylvania throughout the larger Mid-Atlantic region, the inland regions of both the South and North and throughout the West, American dialect areas that a consistently resisted upper-class non-rhotic influences and that consequently remain rhotic today. The pronunciation of is a
postalveolar approximant The voiced alveolar approximant is a type of consonant In articulatory phonetics, a consonant is a speech sound that is articulated with complete or partial closure of the vocal tract. Examples are , pronounced with the lips; , pronounced with ...
or
retroflex approximant The voiced retroflex approximant is a type of consonant In articulatory phonetics, a consonant is a speech sound that is articulated with complete or partial closure of the vocal tract. Examples are , pronounced with the lips; , pronounced with t ...

retroflex approximant
, but a unique "bunched tongue" variant of the approximant ''r'' sound is also associated with the United States and perhaps mostly in the Midwest and the South. American accents that have not undergone the ''cot–caught'' merger (the
lexical set A lexical set is a group of words that all fall under a single category based on some shared phonology, phonological feature. Wells Standard Lexical Sets for English The Standard Lexical Sets for English introduced by John C. Wells in ''Accents o ...
s and ) have instead retained a – split: a 17th-century split in which certain words (labeled as the
lexical set A lexical set is a group of words that all fall under a single category based on some shared phonology, phonological feature. Wells Standard Lexical Sets for English The Standard Lexical Sets for English introduced by John C. Wells in ''Accents o ...
) separated away from the set. The split, which has now reversed in most British English, simultaneously shifts this relatively recent set into a merger with the (''caught'') set. Having taken place prior to the unrounding of the ''cot'' vowel, it results in lengthening and perhaps raising, merging the more recently separated vowel into the vowel in the following environments: before many instances of , , and particularly (as in ''Austria, cloth, cost, loss, off, often,'' etc.), a few instances before (as in ''strong, long, wrong''), and variably by region or speaker in ''gone'', ''on'', and certain other words. The standard accent of southern England,
Received Pronunciation Received Pronunciation (often abbreviated as RP) is the accentAccent may refer to: Speech and language * Accent (sociolinguistics), way of pronunciation particular to a speaker or group of speakers * Accent (phonetics), prominence given to a ...
(RP), has evolved in other ways.
General American English General American English or General American (abbreviated GA or GenAm) is the umbrella accent of American English American English (AmE, AE, AmEng, USEng, en-US), sometimes called United States English or U.S. English, is the set of var ...
has remained relatively more conservative, for example, regarding today's RP features of a '' trap–bath'' split and the fronting of , neither of which is typical of General American accents. Moreover, American dialects do not participate in
H-dropping H-dropping or aitch-dropping is the deletion of the voiceless glottal fricative The voiceless glottal fricative, sometimes called voiceless glottal transition, and sometimes called the aspirate, is a type of sound used in some spoken language ...

H-dropping
, an innovative feature that now characterizes perhaps a majority of the regional dialects of England.


Innovative phonology

However, General American is more innovative than the dialects of England or elsewhere in the world in a number of its own ways: * Unrounded : The American phenomenon of the vowel (often spelled in words like ''box, don, clock, notch, pot,'' etc.) being produced without rounded lips, like the vowel, allows ''father'' and ''bother'' to rhyme, the two vowels now unified as the single
phoneme In phonology and linguistics, a phoneme is a unit of sound that distinguishes one word from another in a particular language. For example, in most List of dialects of English, dialects of English, with the notable exception of the West Midlan ...
. The ''father–bother'' vowel merger is in a transitional or completed stage in nearly all in North American English. Exceptions are in northeastern
New England English New England English collectively refers to the various distinct dialects and varieties of American English American English (AmE, AE, AmEng, USEng, en-US), sometimes called United States English or U.S. English, is the set of varieties of ...
, such as the
Boston accent A Boston accent is a local accent Local may refer to: Geography and transportation * Local (train), a train serving local traffic demand * Local, Missouri, a community in the United States * Local government, a form of public administration, us ...
, as well as variably in some
New York accent The phonology, sound system of New York City English is popularly known as a New York accent. The New York metropolitan area, New York metropolitan accent is one of the most recognizable accent (sociolinguistics), accents of the United States, lar ...
s. * ''Cot–caught'' merger in transition: There is no single American way to pronounce the vowels in words like ''cot'' (the ''ah'' vowel) versus ''caught'' (the ''aw'' vowel), largely because of a merger occurring between the two sounds in some parts of North America, but not others. American speakers with a completed merger pronounce the two historically-separate vowels with the same sound (especially in the
West 250px, A compass rose with west highlighted in black West or Occident is one of the four cardinal directions or points of the compass The points of the compass are the vectors by which planet-based directions are conventionally defined. A co ...

West
, northern
New England New England is a region comprising six states in the Northeastern United States The Northeastern United States (also referred to as the American Northeast, the Northeast, and the East Coast) is a geographical region In geography ...

New England
,
West Virginia West Virginia () is a U.S. state, state in the Appalachian region, Appalachian, Mid-Atlantic (United States), Mid-Atlantic and Southeastern United States, Southeastern regions of the United States.The United States Census Bureau, Census Burea ...
,
western Pennsylvania Western Pennsylvania is a region in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania Pennsylvania ( ) ( pdc, Pennsilfaani), officially the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, is a U.S. state, state in the Mid-Atlantic (United States), Mid-Atlantic, Northeastern U ...
, and the
Upper Midwest The Upper Midwest is a region in the northern portion of the U.S. Census Bureau The United States Census Bureau (USCB), officially the Bureau of the Census, is a principal agency of the U.S. Federal Statistical System, responsible for produci ...
), but other speakers have no trace of a merger at all (especially in the
South South is one of the cardinal directions or compass points. South is the opposite of north and is perpendicular to the east and west. Etymology The word ''south'' comes from Old English ''sūþ'', from earlier Proto-Germanic language, Proto-Germa ...
, the
Great Lakes region The Great Lakes region of North America North America is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria, up to seven geographic ...

Great Lakes region
, southern
New England New England is a region comprising six states in the Northeastern United States The Northeastern United States (also referred to as the American Northeast, the Northeast, and the East Coast) is a geographical region In geography ...

New England
, and the
Mid-AtlanticMid-Atlantic or Mid Atlantic can refer to: *The middle of the Atlantic Ocean *Mid-Atlantic English, a mix between British English and American English *Mid-Atlantic Region (Little League World Series), one of the United States geographic divisions of ...
and
New York metropolitan area The New York metropolitan area, also commonly referred to as the Tri-State area, is the largest metropolitan area A metropolitan area or metro is a region consisting of a densely populated urban core Urban means "related to a city". In ...
s) and so pronounce each vowel with distinct sounds . Among speakers who distinguish between the two, the vowel of ''cot'' (usually transcribed in American English as ), is often a
central Central is an adjective usually referring to being in the center (disambiguation), center of some place or (mathematical) object. Central may also refer to: Directions and generalised locations * Central Africa, a region in the centre of Africa ...
or advanced
back The human back, also called the dorsum, is the large Posterior (anatomy), posterior area of the human body, rising from the top of the buttocks to the back of the neck. It is the surface anatomy, surface of the body opposite from the chest and th ...
, while is pronounced with more rounded lips and/or phonetically higher in the mouth, close to or , but with only slight rounding. Among speakers who do not distinguish between them, thus producing a ''cot–caught'' merger, usually remains a back vowel, , sometimes showing lip rounding as . Therefore, even mainstream Americans vary greatly with this speech feature, with possibilities ranging from a full merger to no merger at all. A transitional stage of the merger is also common in scatterings throughout the United States, most consistently in the American Midlands lying between the historical dialect regions of the North and the South, while younger Americans in general tend to be transitioning toward the merger. According to a 2003 dialect survey carried out across the United States, about 61% of participants perceive themselves as keeping the two vowels distinct and 39% do not. A 2009 followup survey put the percentages at 58% non-merging speakers and 41% merging. * in special words: The vowel, rather than the one in or (as in Britain), is used in
function words In linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling them. The traditional areas of linguistic analysis include ph ...
and certain other words like ''was, of, from, what, everybody, nobody, somebody, anybody'', and, for many speakers ''because'' and rarely even ''want'', when stressed. * Vowel mergers before intervocalic : The mergers of certain vowels before are typical throughout North America, the only exceptions existing primarily along the East Coast: ** ''Mary–marry–merry'' merger in transition: According to the 2003 dialect survey, nearly 57% of participants from around the country self-identified as merging the sounds (as in the first syllable of ''parish''), (as in the first syllable of ''perish''), and (as in ''pear'' or ''pair''). The merger is already complete everywhere except along some areas of the Atlantic Coast. ** ''Hurry–furry'' merger: The pre- vowels in words like ''hurry'' and ''furry'' are merged in most American accents to . Only 10% of American English speakers acknowledge the distinct ''hurry'' vowel before , according to the same dialect survey aforementioned. ** ''Mirror–nearer'' merger in transition: The pre- vowels in words like ''mirror'' and ''nearer'' are merged or very similar in most American accents. The quality of the historic ''mirror'' vowel in the word ''miracle'' is quite variable. *Americans vary slightly in their pronunciations of R-colored vowels such as those in and , which sometimes monophthongizes towards and or tensing towards and respectively. That causes pronunciations like for ''pair''/''pear'' and for ''peer''/''pier''. Also, is often reduced to , so that ''cure'', ''pure'', and ''mature'' may all end with the sound , thus rhyming with ''blur'' and ''sir''. The word ''sure'' is also part of the rhyming set as it is commonly pronounced . *
Yod-dropping The phonological history of the English language includes various changes in the phonology Phonology is a branch of linguistics that studies how languages or dialects systematically organize their sounds (or signs, in sign languages). The te ...
: Dropping of after a consonant is much more extensive than in most of England. In most North American accents, is "dropped" or "deleted" after all
alveolar Alveolus (pl. alveoli, adj. alveolar) is a general anatomical term for a concave cavity or pit. Alveolus may refer to: In anatomy and zoology in general * Pulmonary alveolus A pulmonary alveolus (plural: alveoli, from Latin ''alveolus'', "littl ...

alveolar
and interdental consonants (everywhere except after /p/, /b/, /f/, /h/, /k/, and /m/) and so ''new, duke, Tuesday, assume'' are pronounced , , , (compare with Standard British , , , ). *
T-glottalization In English phonology Like many other languages, English language, English has wide variation in pronunciation, both History of the English language, historically and from List of dialects of the English language, dialect to dialect. In gene ...
: is normally pronounced as a when both after a vowel or a
liquid A liquid is a nearly incompressible In fluid mechanics Fluid mechanics is the branch of physics concerned with the mechanics Mechanics (Ancient Greek, Greek: ) is the area of physics concerned with the motions of physical objects, ...
and before a
syllabicSyllabic may refer to: *Syllable, a unit of speech sound, considered the building block of words **Syllabic consonant, a consonant that forms the nucleus of a syllable *Syllabary, writing system using symbols for syllables *Abugida, writing system us ...
or any non-syllabic consonant, as in ''button'' or ''fruitcake'' . In absolute final position after a vowel or liquid, is also replaced by, or simultaneously articulated with, glottal constriction: thus, ''what'' or ''fruit'' . (This innovation of /t/ glottal stopping may occur in British English as well and variably between vowels.) *
Flapping Flapping or tapping, also known as alveolar flapping, intervocalic flapping, or ''t''-voicing, is a phonological process found in many varieties of English, especially North American North America is a continent entirely within the No ...

Flapping
: or becomes a
flap Flap may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media * ''Flap'' (film), a 1970 American film * Flap, a boss character in the arcade game ''Gaiapolis'' * Flap, a minor character in the film ''Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland'' Biology and heal ...

flap
both after a vowel or and before an unstressed vowel or a syllabic consonant other than , including ''water'' , ''party'' and ''model'' . This results in pairs such as ''ladder/latter, metal/medal,'' and ''coating/coding'' being pronounced the same. Flapping of or before a full stressed vowel is also possible but only if that vowel begins a new word or morpheme, as in ''what is it?'' and twice in ''not at all'' . Other rules apply to flapping to such a complex degree in fact that flapping has been analyzed as being required in certain contexts, prohibited in others, and optional in still others. For instance, flapping is prohibited in words like ''seduce'' , ''retail'' , and ''monotone'' , yet optional in ''impotence'' . *Both intervocalic and may commonly be realized as (a nasalized
alveolar flap The voiced alveolar tap or flap is a type of consonant In articulatory phonetics The field of articulatory phonetics is a subfield of phonetics Phonetics is a branch of linguistics that studies how humans produce and perceive sounds, or in t ...

alveolar flap
) or simply , making ''winter'' and ''winner'' homophones in fast or informal speech. * L-velarization: England's typical distinction between a "clear L" (i.e. ) and a "dark L" (i.e. ) is much less noticeable in nearly all dialects of American English; it is often altogether absent, with all "L" sounds tending to be "dark," meaning having some degree of
velarization Velarization is a secondary articulation of consonant In articulatory phonetics, a consonant is a speech sound that is articulated with complete or partial closure of the vocal tract. Examples are , pronounced with the lips; , pronounced wit ...
, perhaps even as dark as (though in initial position, perhaps less dark than elsewhere among some speakers). The only notable exceptions to this velarization are in some Spanish-influenced American English varieties (such as East Coast Latino English, which typically shows a clear "L" in
syllable onset A syllable is a unit of organization for a sequence of speech sounds. It is typically made up of a syllable nucleus (most often a vowel A vowel is a Syllable, syllabic speech sound pronounced without any stricture in the vocal tract. Vowels a ...
s) and in older, moribund Southern speech, where "L" is clear in an
intervocalic In phonetics Phonetics is a branch of linguistics that studies how humans produce and perceive sounds, or in the case of sign languages, the equivalent aspects of sign. Phoneticians—linguists who specialize in phonetics—study the physical pr ...
environment between
front vowel A front vowel is a class of vowel A vowel is a syllabicSyllabic may refer to: *Syllable, a unit of speech sound, considered the building block of words **Syllabic consonant, a consonant that forms the nucleus of a syllable *Syllabary, writin ...
s. * Weak-vowel merger: The vowel in unstressed syllables generally merges with and so ''effect'' is pronounced like ''affect'', and ''abbot'' and ''rabbit'' rhyme. The quality of the merged vowels varies considerably but is typically closer to in word-initial or word-final position, and closer to elsewhere. * Raising of pre-voiceless : Many speakers split the sound based on whether it occurs before a voiceless consonant and so in ''rider'', it is pronounced , but in ''writer'', it is raised to (because is a voiceless consonant while is not). Thus, words like ''bright, hike, price, wipe,'' etc. with a following voiceless consonant (such as ) use a more raised vowel sound compared to ''bride, high, prize, wide'', etc. Because of this sound change, the words ''rider'' and ''writer'' , for instance, remain distinct from one another by virtue of their difference in height (and length) of the diphthong's starting point (unrelated to both the letters ''d'' and ''t'' being pronounced in these words as alveolar flaps ). The sound-change also applies across word boundaries, though the position of a word or phrase's stress may prevent the raising from taking place. For instance, a ''high school'' in the sense of "secondary school" is generally pronounced ; however, a ''high school'' in the literal sense of "a tall school" would be pronounced . The
sound change A sound change, in historical linguistics Historical linguistics, also termed diachronic linguistics, is the scientific study of language change Language change is variation over time in a language A language is a structured syste ...
began in the Northern,
New England New England is a region comprising six states in the Northeastern United States The Northeastern United States (also referred to as the American Northeast, the Northeast, and the East Coast) is a geographical region In geography ...
, and
Mid-AtlanticMid-Atlantic or Mid Atlantic can refer to: *The middle of the Atlantic Ocean *Mid-Atlantic English, a mix between British English and American English *Mid-Atlantic Region (Little League World Series), one of the United States geographic divisions of ...
regions of the country, and is becoming more common across the nation. *Many speakers in the
Inland North Inland Northern (American) English, also known in American linguistics as the Inland North or Great Lakes dialect, is an American English American English (AmE, AE, AmEng, USEng, en-US), sometimes called United States English or U.S. Engli ...
, Upper Midwestern, and Philadelphia dialect areas raise before voiced consonants in certain words as well, particularly , and . Hence, words like ''tiny'', ''spider'', ''cider'', ''tiger'', ''dinosaur'', ''beside'', ''idle'' (but sometimes not ''idol''), and ''fire'' may contain a raised nucleus. The use of , rather than , in such words is unpredictable from phonetic environment alone, but it may have to do with their acoustic similarity to other words that with before a voiceless consonant, per the traditional Canadian-raising system. Some researchers have argued that there has been a
phonemic split In historical linguistics Historical linguistics, also termed diachronic linguistics, is the scientific study of language change over time. Principal concerns of historical linguistics include: # to describe and account for observed chang ...
in those dialects, and the distribution of the two sounds is becoming more unpredictable among younger speakers. * Conditioned /æ/ raising (especially before and ): The raising of the or vowel occurs in specific environments that vary widely from region to region but most commonly before and . With most American speakers for whom the phoneme operates under a somewhat-continuous system, has both a tense and a lax
allophone In phonology Phonology is a branch of linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language, meaning that it is a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise study of language. Linguistics encompasses the analysis of e ...
(with a kind of "continuum" of possible sounds between both extremes, rather than a definitive split). In those accents, is overall realized before
nasal stop In phonetics, a nasal, also called a nasal occlusive or nasal stop in contrast with an Stop consonant, oral stop or nasalization, nasalized consonant, is an occlusive consonant manner of articulation, produced with a lowered soft palate, velum, ...
s as more tense (approximately ), while other environments are more lax (approximately the standard ); for example, note the vowel sound in for ''mass'', but for ''man''). In some American accents, however, specifically those from
Baltimore Baltimore ( , locally: ) is the most populous city The United Nations uses three definitions for what constitutes a city, as not all cities in all jurisdictions are classified using the same criteria. Cities may be defined as the city prop ...

Baltimore
,
Philadelphia Philadelphia (colloquially known simply as Philly) is the largest city in the Commonwealth A commonwealth is a traditional English term for a political community founded for the common good In philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is ...

Philadelphia
, and
New York City New York, often called New York City to distinguish it from New York State New York is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of ...

New York City
, and are indeed entirely-separate (or "split") phonemes, for example, in ''planet'' vs. ''plan it'' . They are called Mid-Atlantic split-''a'' systems. The vowels move in the opposite direction (high and forward) in the mouth compared to the backed Standard British " broad ''a''", but both ''a'' systems are probably related phonologically, if not phonetically, since a British-like phenomenon occurs among some older speakers of the eastern New England (Boston) area for whom changes to before alone or when preceded by a
homorganic In phonetics Phonetics is a branch of linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language, meaning that it is a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise study of language. Linguistics encompasses the analysis of ever ...
nasal. * "Short ''o''" before ''r'' before a vowel: In typical North American accents (both U.S. and Canada), the historical sequence (a short ''o'' sound followed by ''r'' and then another vowel, as in ''orange'', ''forest'', ''moral'', and ''warrant'') is realized as , thus further merging with the already-merged ( ''horse''–''hoarse'') set. In the U.S., four words (''tomow, sy, sow, bow,'' and ''mow'') usually contain the sound instead and thus merge with the set (thus, ''sorry'' and ''
sari A sari (sometimes also shari or Hunterian transliteration, misspelled as saree)The name of the garment in various Languages of South Asia, regional languages include: * as, শাৰী, xārī, translit-std=ISO * bn, শাড়ি, śā ...

sari
'' become
homophone A homophone () is a word that is pronouncedPronunciation is the way in which a word or a language is spoken. This may refer to generally agreed-upon sequences of sounds used in speaking a given word or language in a specific dialect ("correct ...
s, both rhyming with ''starry''). Some mergers found in most varieties of both American and British English include the following: * ''Horse–hoarse'' merger: This merger makes the vowels and before homophones, with homophonous pairs like ''horse/hoarse, corps/core, for/four, morning/mourning, war/wore,'' etc.
homophone A homophone () is a word that is pronouncedPronunciation is the way in which a word or a language is spoken. This may refer to generally agreed-upon sequences of sounds used in speaking a given word or language in a specific dialect ("correct ...
s. Many older varieties of American English still keep the sets of words distinct, particularly in the extreme Northeast, the South (especially along the Gulf Coast), and the central Midlands, but the merger is evidently spreading and younger Americans rarely show it. * ''Wine–whine'' merger: This produces pairs like ''wine/whine, wet/whet, Wales/whales, wear/where,'' etc.
homophone A homophone () is a word that is pronouncedPronunciation is the way in which a word or a language is spoken. This may refer to generally agreed-upon sequences of sounds used in speaking a given word or language in a specific dialect ("correct ...
s, in most cases eliminating , also transcribed , the voiceless labiovelar fricative. However, scatterings of older speakers who do not merge these pairs still exist nationwide, perhaps most strongly in the South.


Vocabulary

The process of coining new lexical items started as soon as English-speaking British-American colonists began borrowing names for unfamiliar flora, fauna, and topography from the
Native American languages Over a thousand are spoken by the . These languages cannot all be demonstrated to be related to each other and are classified into a hundred or so (including a large number of s), as well as a number of extinct languages that are due to a lac ...
. Examples of such names are ''
opossum Opossums () are members of the marsupial Order (biology), order Didelphimorphia () Endemism, endemic to the Americas. The largest order of marsupials in the Western Hemisphere, it comprises 120+ species in 19 Genus, genera. Opossums originated i ...
,
raccoon The raccoon ( or , ''Procyon lotor''), sometimes called the common raccoon to distinguish it from other species, is a medium-sized mammal Mammals (from Latin language, Latin , 'breast') are a group of vertebrate animals constituting t ...

raccoon
,
squash Squash may refer to: Sports * Squash (sport), the high-speed racquet sport also known as squash racquets * Squash (professional wrestling), an extremely one-sided match in professional wrestling * Squash tennis, a game similar to squash racquets ...
'', ''
moose The moose (in North America) or elk (in Eurasia) (''Alces alces'') is a member of the New World deer subfamily and is the largest and heaviest extant Extant is the opposite of the word extinct Extinction is the termination of a kind of ...

moose
'' (from
Algonquian Algonquin or Algonquian—and the variation Algonki(a)n—may refer to: Indigenous peoples *Algonquian languages, a large subfamily of Native American languages in a wide swath of eastern North America from Canada to Virginia **Algonquin languag ...
), ''
wigwam A wigwam, wickiup, wetu (Wampanoag The Wampanoag , also rendered Wôpanâak, are a Native American people. They were a loose confederation of several tribes in the 17th century, but today Wampanoag people encompass five officially recognized ...

wigwam
'', and ''
moccasin A moccasin is a shoe A shoe is an item of footwear Footwear refers to garments worn on the feet, which originally serves to purpose of protective clothing, protection against adversities of the environment, usually regarding ground textur ...
''. The languages of the other colonizing nations also added to the American vocabulary; for instance, ''
cookie A cookie is a Baked goods, baked or cooked snack or Dessert, dessert that is typically small, flat and sweet. It usually contains flour, sugar, egg, and some type of Cooking oil, oil, fat, or butter. It may include other ingredients such as r ...

cookie
'', from
Dutch Dutch commonly refers to: * Something of, from, or related to the Netherlands * Dutch people () * Dutch language () *Dutch language , spoken in Belgium (also referred as ''flemish'') Dutch may also refer to:" Castle * Dutch Castle Places * ...
; ''
kindergarten Kindergarten (, ) is a preschool A preschool, also known as nursery school, pre-primary school, or play school, is an school, educational establishment or learning space offering early childhood education to children before they begin com ...

kindergarten
'' from
German German(s) may refer to: Common uses * of or related to Germany * Germans, Germanic ethnic group, citizens of Germany or people of German ancestry * For citizens of Germany, see also German nationality law * German language The German la ...

German
, ''
levee file:River Levee Cross Section Figure.svg, Components of a levee: file:Sacramento River Levee.jpg, The side of a levee in Sacramento, California A levee (), dike (American English), dyke (Commonwealth English), embankment, floodbank, or stop ...

levee
'' from ; and ''
rodeo Rodeo () is a competitive equestrian sport The word equestrian is a reference to Equestrianism, horseback riding, derived from Latin ' and ', "horse". Horseback riding (or Riding in British English) Notable examples of this are: *List of eques ...
'' from
Spanish Spanish may refer to: * Items from or related to Spain: **Spaniards, a nation and ethnic group indigenous to Spain **Spanish language **Spanish cuisine Other places * Spanish, Ontario, Canada * Spanish River (disambiguation), the name of several ...

Spanish
. Landscape features are often loanwords from French or Spanish, and the word ''
corn Maize ( ; ''Zea mays'' subsp. ''mays'', from es, maíz after tnq, mahiz), also known as corn (North American English, North American and Australian English), is a cereal grain first domesticated by indigenous peoples of the Americas, indige ...
'', used in England to refer to wheat (or any cereal), came to denote the
maize Maize ( ; ''Zea mays'' subsp. ''mays'', from es, maíz after tnq, mahiz), also known as corn (North American North America is a continent in the Northern Hemisphere and almost entirely within the Western Hemisphere. It can also be ...

maize
plant, the most important crop in the U.S. Most
Mexican Spanish Mexican Spanish ( es, español mexicano) is a set of Variety (linguistics), varieties of the Spanish language as spoken in Mexico. Spanish was brought to Mexico in the 16th century by Spanish Conquistadors. As in all other Spanish-speaking co ...
contributions came after the
War of 1812 The War of 1812 (18 June 1812 – 17 February 1815) was a conflict fought by the United States of America The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country in . It ...
, with the opening of the West, like ''
ranch A ranch (from es, rancho) is an area of landscape, land, including various structures, given primarily to ranching, the practice of raising grazing livestock such as cattle and sheep. It is a subtype of a farm. These terms are most often appl ...
'' (now a common house style). Due to Mexican culinary influence, many Spanish words are incorporated in general use when talking about certain popular dishes: cilantro (instead of coriander), queso, tacos, quesadillas, enchiladas, tostadas, fajitas, burritos, and guacamole. These words usually lack an English equivalent and are found in popular restaurants. New forms of dwelling created new terms ''(
lot Lot or LOT may refer to: Common meanings Areas *Land lot, an area of land *Parking lot, for automobiles *Backlot, in movie production Sets of items *Lot number, in batch production *Lot, a set of goods for sale together in an auction; or a quantit ...
, waterfront)'' and types of homes like ''
log cabin A log cabin is a small log house A log house, or log building, is a structure built with horizontal logs interlocked at the corners by notching. Logs may be round, squared or hewn to other shapes, either handcrafted or milled. The term ...
,
adobe Adobe (; ) is a building material Building material is material used for construction Construction is a general term meaning the art and science to form Physical object, objects, systems, or organizations,"Construction" def. 1.a. ...

adobe
'' in the 18th century; ''
apartment An apartment (American English American English (AmE, AE, AmEng, USEng, en-US), sometimes called United States English or U.S. English, is the set of variety (linguistics), varieties of the English language native to the United S ...

apartment
,
shanty Shanty may refer to: Buildings and developments * Ice shanty, a portable shed placed on a frozen lake * Shack or shanty, improvised housing, a type of primitive dwelling * Shanty town, a settlement of shacks or shanties Geography * Shanty Bay, i ...
'' in the 19th century; ''project,
condominium A condominium (or condo for short) is a building structure divided into several units that are each separately owned, surrounded by common areas that are jointly owned. Residential condominiums are frequently constructed as apartment buildings ...
,
townhouse A townhouse, townhome, town house, or town home, is a type of terraced housing __NOTOC__ In agriculture, a terrace is a piece of sloped plane that has been cut into a series of successively receding flat surfaces or platforms, which resembl ...

townhouse
,
mobile home A mobile home (also known as a park home, trailer, or trailer home) is a prefabricated Prefabrication is the practice of assembling components of a structure A structure is an arrangement and organization of interrelated elements in a m ...

mobile home
'' in the 20th century; and parts thereof ''(
driveway Image:Driveway apron and sloped curb to street.jpg, Driveway apron and sloped curb (road), curb to a public street, all under construction A driveway (also called ''drive'' in UK English) is a type of private road for local access to one or a smal ...

driveway
, breezeway,
backyard A backyard, or back yard, is a yard 300px, Bronze Yard No.11, the official standard of length for the Treasury Department A treasury is either *A government department related to finance and taxation, a Finance minister, finance ministr ...

backyard
)''. Industry and material innovations from the 19th century onwards provide distinctive new words, phrases, and idioms through
railroad Rail transport (also known as train transport) is a means of transferring passengers and goods on wheeled vehicle A vehicle (from la, vehiculum) is a machine A machine is any physical system with ordered structural and functional p ...

railroad
ing (see further at
rail terminology Rail or rails may refer to: Rail transport *Rail transport and related matters *Rail (rail transport) or railway lines, the running surface of a railway Film *Rails (film), ''Rails'' (film), a 1929 Italian film by Mario Camerini *Rail (1967 fil ...
) and
transport Transport (in British English British English (BrE) is the standard dialect A standard language (also standard variety, standard dialect, and standard) is a language variety that has undergone substantial codification of grammar and ...

transport
ation terminology, ranging from types of roads (''dirt roads'', ''
freeway A controlled-access highway is a type of highway A highway is any public or private road A road is a wide way leading from one place to another, typically one with a specially prepared surface which vehicles and bikes can use. ...

freeway
s'') to infrastructure ''(
parking lot Car park with drop arm in Dazaifu, Fukuoka A parking lot (American English American English (AmE, AE, AmEng, USEng, en-US), sometimes called United States English or U.S. English, is the set of varieties of the English language nat ...

parking lot
,
overpass An overpass (called an overbridge or flyover in the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' use Britain as ...

overpass
,
rest area A rest area is a public facility located next to a large thoroughfare such as a motorway, Limited-access road, expressway, or highway, at which drivers and passengers can rest, eat, or refuel without exiting onto secondary roads. Other names in ...
),'' to automotive terminology often now standard in English internationally. Already existing English words—such as '',
shop Shop or shopping refers to: Business and commerce * Shop, a slang word for a commerce , commercial establishment or for a place of business * Machine shop, a workshop for machining * Retail shop, possibly within a marketplace * Shopping, e.g.: * ...
,
lumber Lumber, also known as timber, is wood Wood is a porous and fibrous structural tissue found in the stems and roots of tree In botany, a tree is a perennial plant with an elongated Plant stem, stem, or trunk (botany), trunk, sup ...
''—underwent shifts in meaning; others remained in the U.S. while changing in Britain. Science, urbanization, and democracy have been important factors in bringing about changes in the written and spoken language of the United States. From the world of business and finance came new terms (''
merger In corporate finance Corporate finance is the area of finance that deals with sources of funding, the capital structure of corporations, the actions that managers take to increase the Value investing, value of the firm to the shareholders, ...
, downsize,
bottom line In business Business is the activity of making one's living or making money by producing or buying and selling products (such as goods and services). Simply put, it is "any activity or enterprise entered into for profit." Having a busin ...
''), from sports and gambling terminology came, specific jargon aside, common everyday American idioms, including many idioms related to baseball. The names of some American inventions remained largely confined to North America (''
elevator An elevator (North American English North American English (NAmE, NAE) is the most generalized variety (linguistics), variety of the English language as spoken in the United States and Canada. Because of their related histories and ...

elevator
,
gasoline Gasoline () or petrol () (see the etymology Etymology ()The New Oxford Dictionary of English ''The'' () is a grammatical article Article often refers to: * Article (grammar) An article is any member of a class of dedicated word ...

gasoline
'') as did certain automotive terms (''
truck A truck or lorry is a motor vehicle A motor vehicle, also known as motorized vehicle or automotive vehicle, is a self-propelled vehicle A vehicle (from la, vehiculum) is a machine that transports people or cargo. Vehicles include ...

truck
'', '' trunk''). New foreign loanwords came with 19th and early 20th century European immigration to the U.S.; notably, from
Yiddish Yiddish (, or , ''yidish'' or ''idish'', , ; , ''Yidish-Taytsh'', ) is a West Germanic The West Germanic languages constitute the largest of the three branches of the Germanic languages, Germanic family of languages (the others being the ...
''(
chutzpah Chutzpah () is the quality of audacity, for good or for bad. It derives from the Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. Historically, ...
, schmooze'') and
German German(s) may refer to: Common uses * of or related to Germany * Germans, Germanic ethnic group, citizens of Germany or people of German ancestry * For citizens of Germany, see also German nationality law * German language The German la ...

German
(''
hamburger A hamburger (or burger for short) is a , typically considered a , consisting of one or more cooked —usually , typically —placed inside a sliced or . The patty may be , , smoked or . Hamburgers are often served with , , , , , , or ; s such ...

hamburger
, ''). A large number of English colloquialisms from various periods are American in origin; some have lost their American flavor (from '''' and ''cool'' to ''
nerd A nerd is a person seen as overly intellectual An intellectual is a person who engages in critical thinking Critical thinking is the analysis of facts to form a judgment. The subject is complex; several different Critical thinking#Def ...
'' and '' 24/7),'' while others have not ''(
have a nice day Have a nice day is a commonly spoken expression used to conclude a conversation (whether brief or extensive), or end a message by hoping the person to whom it is addressed experiences a pleasant day. Since it is often uttered by service employee ...
, for sure);'' many are now distinctly old-fashioned ''(swell, groovy).'' Some English words now in general use, such as ''hijacking,
disc jockey A disc jockey, more commonly abbreviated as DJ, is a person who plays recorded music for an audience. Types of DJs include radio DJs (who host programs on music radio Music radio is a radio format in which music is the main broadcast conte ...
, boost, bulldoze'' and ''
jazz Jazz is a music genre A music genre is a conventional category that identifies some pieces of music Music is the of arranging s in time through the of melody, harmony, rhythm, and timbre. It is one of the aspects of all human s ...
,'' originated as American slang. American English has always shown a marked tendency to use words in different parts of speech and nouns are often used as verbs. Examples of nouns that are now also verbs are ''interview, advocate, vacuum, lobby, pressure, rear-end, transition, feature, profile, hashtag, head, divorce, loan, estimate, X-ray, spearhead, skyrocket, showcase, bad-mouth, vacation, major,'' and many others. Compound (linguistics), Compounds coined in the U.S. are for instance ''foothill, landslide'' (in all senses), ''Wikt:backdrop, backdrop, teenager,'' brainstorming, brainstorm, Wikt:bandwagon, bandwagon, hitchhike, smalltime, and a huge number of others. Other compound words have been founded based on industrialization and the wave of the automobile: five-passenger car, four-door sedan, two-door sedan, and station-wagon (called an estate car in England). Some are euphemistic ''(human resources, affirmative action, correctional facility).'' Many compound nouns have the verb-and-preposition combination: ''stopover, lineup, tryout, spin-off, shootout, holdup, hideout, comeback, makeover,'' and many more. Some prepositional and phrasal verbs are in fact of American origin (''win out, hold up, back up/off/down/out, face up to'' and many others). Noun endings such as ''-ee (retiree), -ery (bakery), -ster (gangster)'' and ''-cian (beautician)'' are also particularly productive in the U.S. Several verbs ending in ''-ize'' are of U.S. origin; for example, ''fetishize, prioritize, burglarize, accessorize, weatherization, weatherize,'' etc.; and so are some back-formations ''(locate, fine-tune, curate, donate, emote, upholster'' and ''enthuse).'' Among syntactical constructions that arose are ''outside of, headed for, meet up with, back of,'' etc. Americanisms formed by alteration of some existing words include notably ''pesky, phony, rambunctious, buddy, sundae, skeeter, sashay'' and ''kitty-corner.'' Adjectives that arose in the U.S. are, for example, ''lengthy, bossy, cuteness, cute'' and ''cutesy, punk'' (in all senses), ''sticky'' (of the weather), ''through'' (as in "finished"), and many colloquial forms such as ''peppy'' or ''wacky''. A number of words and meanings that originated in Middle English or Early Modern English and that have been in everyday use in the United States have since disappeared in most varieties of British English; some of these have cognates in Scottish Lowlands, Lowland Scots. Terms such as ''autumn, fall'' ("autumn"), ''faucet'' ("tap"), ''diaper'' ("nappy"; itself unused in the U.S.), ''candy'' ("sweets"), ''Frying pan, skillet'', ''eyeglasses'', and ''obligate'' are often regarded as Americanisms. ''Fall'' for example came to denote the season in 16th century England, a contraction of Middle English expressions like "fall of the leaf" and "fall of the year." ''Gotten'' (past participle of ''get'') is often considered to be largely an Americanism. Other words and meanings were brought back to Britain from the U.S., especially in the second half of the 20th century; these include ''hire'' ("to employ"), ''I guess'' (famously criticized by H. W. Fowler), ''baggage'', ''hit'' (a place), and the adverbs ''overly'' and ''presently'' ("currently"). Some of these, for example, ''monkey wrench'' and ''wastebasket'', originated in 19th century Britain. The adjectives ''mad'' meaning "angry," ''smart'' meaning "intelligent," and ''sick'' meaning "ill" are also more frequent in American (and Irish) English than British English. Linguist Bert Vaux created a survey, completed in 2003, polling English speakers across the United States about their specific everyday word choices, hoping to identify regionalisms. The study found that most Americans prefer the term ''sub'' for a long sandwich, ''soda'' (but ''pop'' in the Great Lakes region and generic ''coke'' in the South) for a sweet and bubbly soft drink, ''you'' or ''you guys'' for the plural of ''you'' (but ''y'all'' in the South), ''sneakers'' for athletic shoes (but often ''tennis shoes'' outside the Northeast), and ''shopping cart'' for a cart used for carrying supermarket goods.


Grammatical and other differences between American and British English

American English and
British English British English (BrE) is the standard dialect A standard language (also standard variety, standard dialect, and standard) is a language variety that has undergone substantial codification of grammar and usage and is employed by a populatio ...
(BrE) often differ at the levels of phonology, phonetics, vocabulary, and, to a much lesser extent, grammar and orthography. The first large American dictionary, ''An American Dictionary of the English Language'', known as Webster's Dictionary, was written by Noah Webster in 1828, codifying several of these spellings. Differences in grammar are relatively minor, and do not normally affect mutual intelligibility; these include: typically a lack of differentiation between adjectives and adverbs, employing the equivalent adjectives as adverbs ''he ran quick''/''he ran quickly''; different use of some auxiliary verbs; formal (rather than notional) agreement with collective nouns; different preferences for the past forms of a few verbs (for example, AmE/BrE: ''learned''/''learnt'', ''burned''/''burnt'', ''snuck/sneaked'', ''dove/dived'') although the purportedly "British" forms can occasionally be seen in American English writing as well; different prepositions and adverbs in certain contexts (for example, AmE ''in school,'' BrE ''at school''); and whether or not a definite article is used, in very few cases (AmE ''to the hospital'', BrE ''to hospital''; contrast, however, AmE ''actress Elizabeth Taylor'', BrE ''the actress Elizabeth Taylor''). Often, these differences are a matter of relative preferences rather than absolute rules; and most are not stable since the two varieties are constantly influencing each other, and American English is not a standardized set of dialects. Differences in orthography are also minor. The main differences are that American English usually uses spellings such as ''flavor'' for British ''flavour'', ''fiber'' for ''fibre'', ''defense'' for ''defence'', ''analyze'' for ''analyse'', ''license'' for ''licence'', ''catalog'' for ''catalogue'' and ''traveling'' for ''travelling''. Noah Webster popularized such spellings in America, but he did not invent most of them. Rather, "he chose already existing options on such grounds as simplicity, analogy or etymology." Other differences are due to the francophile tastes of the 19th century Victorian era Britain (for example they preferred ''programme'' for ''program'', ''manoeuvre'' for ''maneuver'', ''cheque'' for ''check'', etc.). AmE almost always uses ''-ize'' in words like ''realize''. BrE prefers ''-ise'', but also uses ''-ize'' on occasion (see Oxford spelling). There are a few differences in punctuation rules. British English is more tolerant of run-on sentences, called "comma splices" in American English, and American English requires that periods and commas be placed inside closing quotation marks even in cases in which British rules would place them outside. American English also favors the double quotation mark ("like this") over single ('as here'). Vocabulary differences vary by region. For example, autumn is used more commonly in the United Kingdom, whereas fall is more common in American English. Some other differences include: aerial (United Kingdom) vs. antenna, biscuit (United Kingdom) vs. cookie/cracker, car park (United Kingdom) vs. parking lot, caravan (United Kingdom) vs. trailer, city centre (United Kingdom) vs. downtown, flat (United Kingdom) vs. apartment, fringe (United Kingdom) vs. bangs, and holiday (United Kingdom) vs. vacation. AmE sometimes favors words that are Morphology (linguistics), morphologically more complex, whereas BrE uses clipped forms, such as AmE ''transportation'' and BrE ''transport'' or where the British form is a back-formation, such as AmE ''burglarize'' and BrE ''burgle'' (from ''burglar''). However, while individuals usually use one or the other, both forms will be widely understood and mostly used alongside each other within the two systems.


Varieties

While written American English is largely standardized across the country and spoken American English dialects are highly mutually intelligible, there are still several recognizable regional and ethnic accents and lexical distinctions.


Regional accents

The regional sounds of present-day American English are reportedly engaged in a complex phenomenon of "both convergence and divergence": some accents are homogenizing and accent leveling, leveling, while others are diversifying and deviating further away from one another. Having been settled longer than the American West Coast, the East Coast has had more time to develop unique accents, and it currently comprises three or four linguistically significant regions, each of which possesses English varieties both different from each other as well as quite internally diverse:
New England New England is a region comprising six states in the Northeastern United States The Northeastern United States (also referred to as the American Northeast, the Northeast, and the East Coast) is a geographical region In geography ...

New England
, the Mid-Atlantic States (including a
New York accent The phonology, sound system of New York City English is popularly known as a New York accent. The New York metropolitan area, New York metropolitan accent is one of the most recognizable accent (sociolinguistics), accents of the United States, lar ...
as well as a unique Mid-Atlantic American English, Philadelphia–Baltimore accent), and the Southern United States, South. As of the twentieth century, the middle and eastern Great Lakes area, Chicago being the largest city with these speakers, also ushered in certain unique features, including the fronting (phonetics), fronting of the vowel in the mouth toward and tensing of the vowel wholesale to . These sound changes have triggered a series of other vowel shifts in the same region, known by linguists as the "Inland North". The Inland North shares with the Eastern New England English, Eastern New England dialect (including
Boston accent A Boston accent is a local accent Local may refer to: Geography and transportation * Local (train), a train serving local traffic demand * Local, Missouri, a community in the United States * Local government, a form of public administration, us ...
s) a back vowel, backer tongue positioning of the vowel (to ) and the vowel (to ) in comparison to the rest of the country. Ranging from northern New England across the Great Lakes to Minnesota, another Northern regional marker is the variable fronting of before , for example appearing four times in the stereotypical Boston shibboleth ''Park the car in Harvard Yard''. Several other phenomena serve to distinguish regional U.S. accents. Boston, Western Pennsylvania English, Pittsburgh, North-Central American English, Upper Midwestern, and Western American English, Western U.S. accents have fully completed a merger of the vowel with the vowel ( and , respectively): a cot–caught merger, ''cot–caught'' merger, which is rapidly spreading throughout the whole country. However, the South, Inland North, and a Northeastern coastal corridor passing through Rhode Island, New York City, Philadelphia, and Baltimore typically preserve an older ''cot–caught'' distinction. For that Northeastern corridor, the realization of the vowel is particularly markedness, marked, as depicted in humorous spellings, like in ''tawk'' and ''cawfee'' (''talk'' and ''coffee''), which intend to represent it being tenseness, tense and diphthongal: . A æ tensing, split of into two separate
phoneme In phonology and linguistics, a phoneme is a unit of sound that distinguishes one word from another in a particular language. For example, in most List of dialects of English, dialects of English, with the notable exception of the West Midlan ...
s, using different ''a'' pronunciations for example in ''gap'' versus ''gas'' , further defines New York City as well as Philadelphia–Baltimore accents. Most Americans preserve all historical sounds, using what is known as a Rhoticity in English, rhotic accent. The only traditionally ''r''-dropping (or non-rhotic) regional U.S. accents are spoken in Eastern New England English, eastern New England, New York City English, New York City variably, and some of the older Southern American English, former plantation South primarily among older speakers (and consequently African-American Vernacular English variably across the country), though the vowel-consonant cluster found in "bird," "work," "hurt," "learn," etc. usually retains its ''r'' pronunciation, even in these non-rhotic American accents. Non-rhoticity among such speakers is presumed to have arisen from their upper classes' close historical contact with England, imitating London's ''r''-dropping, a feature that has continued to gain prestige throughout England from the late 18th century onwards, but which has conversely lost prestige in the U.S. since at least the early 20th century. Non-rhoticity makes a word like ''car'' sound like ''cah'' or ''source'' like ''sauce''. New York City and Southern American English, Southern accents are the most prominent regional accents of the country, as well as the most stigmatized in terms of perceptual dialectology, perceived "incorrectness". Southern speech, strongest in southern Appalachia and certain areas of Texas, is often identified by Americans as a "country" accent,Hayes, 2013, p. 51. and is defined by the vowel losing its diphthong, gliding quality: , the initiation event for a complicated Southern vowel shift, including a "Southern drawl" that makes short
front vowel A front vowel is a class of vowel A vowel is a syllabicSyllabic may refer to: *Syllable, a unit of speech sound, considered the building block of words **Syllabic consonant, a consonant that forms the nucleus of a syllable *Syllabary, writin ...
s into distinct-sounding gliding vowels. The fronting of the vowels of , , , and tends to also define Southern accents as well as the accents spoken in the "Midland American English, Midland": a vast band of the country that constitutes an intermediate dialect region between the traditional North and South. Western U.S. accents mostly fall under the
General American General American English or General American (abbreviated GA or GenAm) is the umbrella accentAccent may refer to: Speech and language * Accent (sociolinguistics), way of pronunciation particular to a speaker or group of speakers * Accent (p ...

General American
spectrum. Below, ten major American English accents are defined by their particular combinations of certain vowel sounds:


General American

In 2010, William Labov noted that Great Lakes, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and West Coast accents have undergone "vigorous new sound changes" since the mid-nineteenth century onwards, so they "are now more different from each other than they were 50 or 100 years ago", while other accents, like of New York City and Boston, have remained stable in that same time-frame. However, a
General American General American English or General American (abbreviated GA or GenAm) is the umbrella accentAccent may refer to: Speech and language * Accent (sociolinguistics), way of pronunciation particular to a speaker or group of speakers * Accent (p ...

General American
sound system also has some debated degree of influence nationwide, for example, gradually beginning to oust the regional accent in urban areas of the South and at least some in the Inland North. Rather than one particular accent, General American is best defined as an umbrella covering an American accent that does not incorporate features associated with some particular region, ethnicity, or socioeconomic group. Typical General American features include rhoticity in English, rhoticity, the father–bother merger, ''father–bother'' merger, Mary–marry–merry merger, ''Mary–marry–merry'' merger, /æ/ tensing, pre-nasal "short ''a''" tensing, and other General American#Phonology, particular vowel sounds. General American features are embraced most by Americans who are highly educated or in the most formal contexts, and regional accents with the most General American native features include North Midland, Western New England, and Western accents.


Other varieties

Although no longer region-specific, African-American Vernacular English, which remains the native variety of most working- and middle-class African Americans, has a close relationship to Southern dialects and has greatly influenced everyday speech of many Americans, including hip hop culture. Hispanic and Latino Americans have also developed native-speaker varieties of English. The best-studied Latino Englishes are Chicano English, spoken in the West and Midwest, and New York Latino English, spoken in the
New York metropolitan area The New York metropolitan area, also commonly referred to as the Tri-State area, is the largest metropolitan area A metropolitan area or metro is a region consisting of a densely populated urban core Urban means "related to a city". In ...
. Additionally, ethnic varieties such as Yeshivish, Yeshiva English and "Yinglish" are spoken by some American Jews, American Orthodox Jews, Cajun English, Cajun Vernacular English by some Cajuns in southern Louisiana, and Pennsylvania Dutch English by some bilingual Pennsylvania Dutch speakers. American Indian Englishes have been documented among diverse Indian tribes. The island state of Hawaii, though primarily English-speaking, is also home to a creole language known commonly as Hawaiian Pidgin, and some Hawaii residents speak English with a Pidgin-influenced accent. American English also gave rise to some dialects outside the country, for example, Philippine English, beginning during the United States Military Government of the Philippine Islands, American occupation of the Philippines and subsequently the Insular Government of the Philippine Islands; Thomasites first established a variation of American English in these islands.


See also

* Dictionary of American Regional English * List of English words from indigenous languages of the Americas * International Phonetic Alphabet chart for English dialects * Help:IPA/English, International Phonetic Alphabet chart for the English Language * Phonological history of English * Regional accents of English * Canadian English * North American English * International English *
Received Pronunciation Received Pronunciation (often abbreviated as RP) is the accentAccent may refer to: Speech and language * Accent (sociolinguistics), way of pronunciation particular to a speaker or group of speakers * Accent (phonetics), prominence given to a ...
* Mid-Atlantic accent, Transatlantic accent * American and British English spelling differences


Notes


References


Bibliography

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


Further reading

* Richard W. Bailey, Bailey, Richard W. (2012). ''Speaking American: A History of English in the United States'' 20th–21st-century usage in different cities * * Bryan A. Garner, Garner, Bryan A. (2003). ''Garner's Modern American Usage''. New York: Oxford University Press. * ;History of American English * Bailey, Richard W. (2004). "American English: Its origins and history". In E. Finegan & J. R. Rickford (Eds.), ''Language in the USA: Themes for the twenty-first century'' (pp. 3–17). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. * Finegan, Edward. (2006). "English in North America". In R. Hogg & D. Denison (Eds.), ''A history of the English language'' (pp. 384–419). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


External links


Do You Speak American
PBS special

of the United States, by Bert Vaux ''et al.'', Harvard University.
Linguistic Atlas Projects


at the University of Pennsylvania
Speech Accent Archive

Dictionary of American Regional English

Dialect maps based on pronunciation
{{Authority control American English, Dialects of English North American English Languages attested from the 17th century 17th-century establishments in North America