Origin of american english
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Origin of american english



American English variety of the English language spoken in the United

States. Although all Americans do not speak the same way, their speech has

enough in common that American English can be recognized as a variety of

English distinct from British English, Australian English and other

national varieties. American English has grown up with the country. It

began to diverge from British English during its colonial beginnings and

acquired regional differences and ethnic flavor during the settlement of

the continent .Today it influences other languages and other varieties of

English because it is the medium by which the attractions of American

culture – its literature, motion pictures and television programs – are

transmitted to the world.



American English shows many influences from the different cultures and

languages of the people who settled in North America. The nature of the

influence depends on the time and the circumstances of contact between



The first settlements on the East Coast of North America in the 17th

century were composed mostly of British subjects. Accounting for about 90

percent of the people, the British vastly outnumbered French and German

settlers. English was therefore the only real candidate for a common

American language. The settlers spoke varieties of English from various

parts of England, but in the creation of American English, there varieties

were leveled –that is their differences largely disappeared. Michael

Guillaume Jean de Crevecoeur, a French born writer who published under the

name J. Hector st. John de Crevecoeur and became famous for his book

Letters from an American farmer (1782), describes the desire of settlers to

“become an American”, their common ideal to own and work their own farms,

without prejudice toward neighbors whatever their neighbor’s religion or

national origin. This shared goal encouraged development of a shared

variety of the languages, which came to be enriched by contributions from

many cultures.

As the European settlers came into contact with Native Americans,

American English collected a large stock of Native American place names

(Allegheny, Chicago, Mississippi, Potomac) and Native American names for

things not founds in Europe or Asia (moose, opossum, squash, moccasin,

tomahawk, totem). Sometimes, Native American words were spelled by settlers

so that they looked more like English words; woodchuck, for example,

probably comes from the Cree word wuchak. Cultural exchange with Native

Americans was more limited than might be expected, because diseases brought

by Spanish explorers and European settlers greatly reduced the Native

American population in eastern North America during early settlement.

In the 18th century people from Ireland and Northern Europe joined the

British settlers. By the time of the American Revolution (1775-1783), there

were comparable numbers of British settlers from other European countries.

Some Europeans formed separate communities, such as the Pennsylvania

Germans, but most mixed with British settlers and contributed to American

English words from their own languages. Examples include pumpkin, bayou,

and bureau from French; cookie, waffle and boss from Dutch; and pretzel,

pinochle, and phooey from German. Scottish and Irish settlers were already

English speakers but they influenced American English with features from

their own varieties for example, pronunciation of r after vowels (while

many British English speakers were losing the r after vowels) and double

verb forms like might could.

Africans were imported as slaves throughout the early settlement of

North America. By the American Revolution one- quarter of the American

population consisted of African Americans, and as much as 95 percent of the

population living in plantation areas was African American. Slaves were not

allowed to share in Crevecoeur’s American ideal, but they learned American

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