Americanisms 'aren't taking over the British language'

Linguistic experts at the British Library have found a number of British English speakers are actually refusing to use American pronunciations for everyday words like schedule, patriot and advertisement, the 'Daily Mail' reported.

The study also found that British English is evolving at a faster rate than its transatlantic counterpart, meaning that in many instances it's the American speakers who are in fact sticking to more "traditional" speech patterns.

Jonnie Robinson, the curator of sociolinguists at the British Library, said: "British English and American English continue to be very distinct entities and the way both sets of speakers pronounce words continues to differ.

"But that doesn't mean that British English speakers are sticking with traditional pronunciations while American English speakers come up with their own alternatives.
"In fact, in some cases it is the other way around. British English, for whatever reason, is innovating and changing while American English remains very conservative and traditional in its speech patterns."

For their study, the researchers recorded the voices of more than 10,000 English speakers from home and abroad. The volunteers were asked to read extracts from Mr Tickle, one of the series of Mr Men books by Roger Hargreaves.

The subjects were also asked to pronounce a set of six words including 'controversy', 'garage', 'scone', 'neither', 'attitude' and 'schedule'. Linguists then examined recordings made by 60 of the British and Irish participants and 60 of their counterparts from the US and Canada.

When it came to the word attitude, more than three-quarters of the British and Irish contingent preferred "atti-chewed" while every single participant from the US opted for "atti-tood".

There was an equally pronounced transatlantic clash when it came to the word controversy. Two-thirds of the British and Irish participants favoured a version of the word which emphasised the middle syllable of trov.

In stark contrast, all the US participants said a version which stressed the first three letters of the word.

The word garage also proved linguistically divisive with the Brits "overwhelmingly" opting for a version which rhymed with marriage while the US speakers preferred one which rhymed with mirage.

In the case of garage and controversy for instance, the US volunteers were more likely to use the British English pronunciations favoured or given prominence by the Oxford English Dictionary.

Robinson said: "I think there is a new generation of British English speakers who are now stressing the second syllable of some words such as controversy and harass. This pronunciation method will be unfamiliar to older generation." 

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