The English American languages are as different as the countries. They pronounce words differently, stress different parts of the same word and have dropped many words that Americans still use today.[i] I find it funny when people say that English is becoming Americanized due to the availability of American TV.[ii] One example is the word, diaper. The English use the term nappy in place of this word, but the word diaper comes from Middle English from the 16th century and therefore is a British word but the amount of English that would know that would not be many. Instead they would blame us for Americanizing their language.[iii]
In fact, some believe that the accent in New England is closer to the English accent seen in 17th century than that heard today in England.[iv] The split came after the American Revolution when Noah Webster decided that things should be spelt like they sound and to be different from the spelling in England. Also at this time there was not standardized way of spelling.
Sometimes you might wonder when did the changes of the spelling and grammar come in? Noah Webster (author of Webster's Dictionary) thought it would be good for America to change the spelling and grammar. He thought words should be spelled like they sound. He dropped extra u (favour, colour) and changed around theater (theatre). So that is why Americans will say the town Cottenham as “Cotton-ham” and not “Cottenum” as the British do. Also the populations were separate, the language changed in different ways. As you know, the English language is always changing and words like whilst (still used in England) changed to while. Or the Americans say “trash” but the British have changed to say “rubbish” (although they originally said trash).
It does drive me crazy up when I read in forums that the British don’t like the invasion of our Americanisms but some of them aren’t even American and they can’t blame us for everything. Anyways, the more I learn the more I will share but this is just food for thought.
[i] One stop English, “Differences in American and British English,” accessed June 27, 2013, http://www.onestopenglish.com/grammar/grammar-reference/american-english-vs-british-english/differences-in-american-and-british-english-grammar-article/152820.article
[ii] Daily Mail, “Don’t Talk Garbage!...Or Why American Words are Mingling Our English,” accessed June 27, 2013, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2151922/Dont-talk-garbage--American-words-mangling-English.html
[iii] Oxford English Dictionary, “Diaper,” accessed June 27, 2013, http://www.oed.com/view/Entry/52006?rskey=f6cR6V&result=1&isAdvanced=false#eid
[iv] Live Science, “Why Do Americans and Brits Have Different Accents?” accessed June 27, 2013, http://www.livescience.com/33652-americans-brits-accents.html
British Sign Language (BSL) and American Sign Language (ASL) are not alike and speakers would not be able to converse with one another. I learned about this when my Brownie pack were doing their 'Disability Awareness' badge. I was shocked to find out that the 'finger spelling' that they use is very different and when I did further research into this subject, although the speakers share an oral language this is not the same as a sign language. I found out that ASL is a dialect of French Sign Language (FSL) but also includes signs used in the local villages and homes, even signs that the Native Americans used to speak with other tribes that did not share their language.[i]
BSL also has accents. So the Scottish use words that people in the south might not understand and Manchester speakers have a different way of counting. The Irish Sign Language (ISL) is another dialect of FSL so ASL and ISL are closer than BSL and ASL. Please see the Sign Language pictures below for both BSL and ASL. As you can see, BSL uses both hands and they are quite different.[ii]
[i] NEDCD, “American Sign Language,” accessed June 27, 2013, http://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/hearing/pages/asl.aspx
[ii] British Sign, “What is Finger Spelling?” accessed June 27, 2013, http://www.british-sign.co.uk/bsl-british-sign-language/what-is-fingerspelling/