American English

No, I am not talking about the band, but the language that we speak in the United States of America.

Last month, my blog post was about some of the business classes I've been taking.Recently, I enrolled in a class about the history of American English.We’ve talked about history, dialect, accents, words and phrases.Since we can use dialects when writing dialogue, I thought this class would be helpful.

Our English started way back in the 1600s, when people from England (perhaps some of your ancestors) sailed across the Atlantic to settle in the southeastern and northeastern parts of the United States.In 1607, Jamestown, the first permanent English settlement, was founded in Virginia.The Pilgrims landed in Massachusetts in 1620, followed by the Puritans in 1630.Over the years, other immigrants arrived, including the Quakers, Germans, Scots-Irish and many groups of people from many lands.As settlement of the US expanded, so did the language, with different dialects, spellings, and words.

A man by the name of Noah Webster, who thought that Americans should have their own language, wrote the first American dictionary.It was published in 1806.The next edition was published in 1828.It was called the American Dictionary of the English Language.You can browse that book here: http://1828.mshaffer.com/.

It’s helpful to study maps to gain a better understanding of dialects.This map covers the US and Canada and it is very detailed.You can also listen to samples of dialects on this website, http://aschmann.net/AmEng/.

How do you speak American English?You can learn more about why you talk a particular way by taking the following quiz, http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2013/12/20/sunday-review/dialect-quiz-map.html.

I touched briefly on the history of our language here today.I will write more about American English in future blog posts.

Happy writing!

Debbie A. Byrne has a B.S. in Mass Communication with a minor in History. She is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) and is working on her first children’s book.




4 comments:

  1. Oh, I'm so happy to have found someone else interested in this topic--interested enough to take a class! Would you be interested in a guest post on my Frugal, Smart, and Tuned-In Editor blog (http://thefrugaleditor.blogspot.com). My husband's been very sick and I've been a slacker. You know how to reach me, I think, Debbie!

    Best,
    Carolyn Howard-Johnson
    Multi Award-Winning Author of the HowToDoItFrugally series for writers including the second editions of the Frugal Book Promoter (http://bit.ly/FrugalBookPromo and The Frugal Editor (http://bit.ly/FrugalEditorKind )The latter is e-book only.for the time being.

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  2. Interesting background to the development of American English, Debbie. In answer to your question, "How do you speak American English?" I would have to say, "I don't! But I write it - with the help of my American critique partners!"

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  3. Debbie, very interesting post on American English. I took the quiz in the Sunday Review and it pinpointed that I'm from New York. :)

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  4. I took the quiz and it put me in Chicago, my hometown. An interesting post and something to think about when you write. One of my critique partners was from England, and it was fun sharing our differences.

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