Are there specific situations where one spelling variant is recommended over another?

I am not a native speaker of English so I get confused when writing since there are sometimes two different spellings of words in English — by which I mean an American spelling and a British spelling. Are there specific situations where one spelling is recommended over the other? Answer I’m from the UK, but … Read more

Is ‘yeah-nah’ a uniquely Australian idiom?

There is a response in Australian English that means “Yes I hear you and empathise with your situation, but no this course of action won’t work for me.” [Yeah-Nah] I assumed this was a normal part of the English language, until I saw other discussions claiming this to be unique to Australian English. That didn’t … Read more

Were American, Australian, and New Zealand English dialects ever spoken in Britain before the colonization of these lands?

Were American, Australian, and New Zealand English dialects ever spoken in Britain before the colonization of these lands? Answer Languages change. Otherwise, we’d still be speaking like Chaucer. The British settlement of America started in the 17th century; there has been lots of time since then for several different American dialects to develop. The British … Read more

Adjective relating to Great Britain and Ireland

Is there an adjective meaning “from or pertaining to the British Isles” (or if you prefer “from Great Britain, Ireland or surrounding islands”, or “from the Atlantic Archipelago”, or whatever floats your boat)? I’m obviously not looking for British, but for a term that could be acceptable to an Irish person. I’m primarily looking for … Read more

Accents of characters in Downton Abbey

To continue the question started in identifying accents of British actors, there is one popular current cultural artifact with an excess of non-standard British accents, and that is The BBC series Downton Abbey. For one very specific example, Anna Smith pronounces the word ‘money’ not as in standard English ‘MUH-nee’ (IPS /’mʌ nij/) but instead … Read more

“Woman front bits” meaning

Whats does “woman front bits” actually means? This question is surprisingly inspired by one of the answers to this question: “Is there any slang I should avoid in the UK or Ireland”. It is appropriate to quote it here: Avoid the use of the word “fanny”, as it is slang for, ah, a woman’s front … Read more

Should pronunciation of the r in “heart” be the same as r in “rabbit”, in UK English?

My 5 yr old daughter was given a task by her teacher to “find as many things as she can that have the sound r” with examples of rabbit, barrow, and ruler (all r’s were underlined in the 3 words). She was criticised by the teacher for answering with the word “heart”, because “it’s the … Read more

How does one correctly pronounce the letter ‘H’: “Aych” or “haych”?

What is the correct sound of the letter H when reading the alphabet – is it ‘aych’ or ‘Haych’ ? Answer The Cambridge Online Survey of World Englishes has the question, “How do you pronounce the letter ‘H’?” Their current results: aitch (85%) haitch (12%) I use something else (2%) You can see a clearer … Read more

What are the ‘distances’ among the major English dialects?

Yes, I admit, as an AmE speaker, that all non-North American accents sound the same: BrE, Irish, Scottish, Australian and South African. Or rather, I can tell they are different if placed side by side as in the excellent 21 accents but I can’t name them off in isolation, unless I pick out one very … Read more