Ø 1) Use the examples from the text and disagree with / prove the statement: American English and British English are mutually incomprehensible.

Which variety of English do you use, American English (AmE) or British English (BrE)? Whatever your choice is, the most important rule is to be consistent in your usage. For example in the sentence The color of the orange is also its flavour, color is American spelling and flavour is British. The following guide points out the principal differences between these two varieties of English.

Present Perfect and Past Simple.In BrE the Present Perfect is used to express an action that has occurred in the recent past that has an effect on the present moment. For example, Ive lost my key. Can you help me look for it? In AmE the following is also possible: I lost my key. Can you help me look for it? In BrE this would be considered incorrect. However, both forms are generally accepted in standard AmE.

Other differences include the use of already, just, and yet. In BrE people say Ive just had lunch. Ive already seen that film. Have you finished your homework yet? In AmE these sentences can be equally used with these ones: I just had lunch. I already saw that film. Did you finish your homework yet?

Have and Have got.There are two forms to express possession in English, and both of them are correct. However, have got is generally the preferred form in BrE (Have you got a car? He hasnt got any friends.) while most speakers of AmE employ the form have (Do you have a car? He doesnt have any friends.)

Prepositions. There are also a few differences in the use of prepositions (the first preposition is BrE, the second is AmE): at / on the weekend, in / on a team, write to me soon / write me soon.

One Vocabulary Different Meanings. Probably the major differences between AmE and BrE are in the choice of vocabulary. Some words mean different things in the two varieties, for example:

BrE Word AmE
person of Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi origin Asian person of Japanese, Vietnamese, Korean, Philippine origin
amount to pay for a service bill a piece of paper currency
person from the Caucus republics: Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan Caucasian white person
person from the Indian sub-continent Indian indigenous American
pleasant homely ugly
worn under trousers pants worn over underwear
soon presently now
fee-paying school public school state school
well dressed smart clever
drink served hot with milk tea drink served cold with lemon

Spelling. American spelling is often simplified, as can be seen from the examples in which the first word is BrE and the second is AmE: colour / color, favourite / favorite, theatre / theater, realise / realize, dialogue / dialog, traveller / traveler, cheque / check, jewellery / jewelry, tyre / tire, and more.

One Meaning Different Vocabulary. Many words are also used in one form and not in the other. Here are some examples:

BrE AmE   BrE AmE
aubergine eggplant   bureau de change currency exchange
biscuit cookie   solicitor lawyer, attorney
sweets candy   policeman, bobby cop
Black or white? (coffee) With or without?   postman postal worker / mailman / mail carrier
car park parking lot   cashier teller
lorry truck   Macintosh, Mac raincoat
petrol station gas station   Wellington boots galoshes
block of flats apartment building   trainers sneakers
chemist drugstore   swimming costume bathing suit

Past Simple / Past Participle Verb Forms.Some English verbs have two acceptable forms of the Past Simple / Past Participle. In BrE, however, the irregular form is generally more common: burnt, dreamt, leant, learnt, smelt, spelt, spilt, spoilt. The regular verb form is more common to AmE: burned, dreamed, leaned, learned, smelled, spelled, spilled, spoiled.

Get. The Past Participle of the verb get is gotten in AmE, for example Hes gotten much better at playing tennis. In BrE the Past Participle would be got as in the example Hes got much better at playing tennis.

As you can see, there are really very few differences between standard BrE and standard AmE, the largest difference being probably the choice of vocabulary.


Ø 2) Find more examples of the differences between American and British English.



Ø 1) What does the title of the article mean?


(1)False friends are pairs of words in two languages (e.g. Russian and English) or two dialects of the same language (e.g. British and American English) that look and/or sound similar, but differ in meaning. False friends can cause difficulty for students learning foreign languages because students can misidentify the words due to their linguistic similarities. The following words represent only a partial sampling of English and Russian false friends:


Russian word English translation   English false friend English meaning
tonsillitis   angina severe chest pain
factory   fabric cloth
chair   stool footstool
competition   concourse coming together
boss, leader   chef expert cook
sleep-walker   lunatic insane
shop, store   magazine periodical
grammar school   gymnasium sports hall
office, study   cabinet cupboard


(2)Other Russian-English false friends include: vs. accurate, vs. artist, vs. auditorium, vs. decoration, vs. intelligent, vs. complexion, vs. compositor, vs. mark, vs. novel, vs. operator, vs. prospect, vs. family, , vs. physique, and dozens more.

(3)Interestingly, it should be noted that the meaning of the Russian word in many of these false friend pairs usually has the same meaning as was ascribed to the original word from which both words were borrowed. Of course, blaming English today for linguistic inconsistency is now useless because these false friends will remain false friends and nothing is going to change that.


Ø 2) Give a definition to the word combination false friends.

Ø 3) Find English equivalents to the words in commas in the second paragraph.

Ø 4) Make a summary of the article.




Ø 1) Do you agree with the title of the text?

English is crazy. Part of the problem with learning English can be explained by this fact.

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the word misnomer means the use of a wrong or inappropriate name when naming something. In this respect, such words and terms as driveway and parkway, eggplant and hamburger, sweetmeats and sweetbreads, English muffins and French fries, as well as boxing ring and starfish are all misnomers.

English is strange. In English people drive cars on parkways and park cars on driveways. There is no egg in eggplant just as there is no ham in hamburger. Sweetmeats are candies and sweetbreads are meats. English muffins didnt come from England nor did French fries come from France. And should it not be obvious boxing rings are square and starfish are not fish at all. And should you now be wondering if Panama hats come from Panama, India ink from India and Chinese checkers from China, the answer is No. And lest it go unsaid, these are only a few of the hundreds of misnomers in the English language.

So how did English become so crazy? Some misnomers are holdovers from an earlier time. Such words as lead pencil, tin can, steamroller, and clothes iron are all holdovers from the good old days. Essentially, old names were retained for convenience. Truly British examples are the well-known May balls (evening parties) and May Bumps (boat races) hosted by Cambridge University each year. Neither occurs in May but rather in May week which, by the way, is in the second week of June.

Words such as Kleenex (in place of tissue), Xerox (in place of photocopy), and Memory stick (in place of flash drive) are all the result of using well-known product names in place of common generic names.

Sometimes misnomers result from popular misconceptions even though there is scientific evidence to the contrary. Koala bears are not actually bears; rather they are marsupials and therefore related to kangaroos. And in that sense, fireflies are not flies (theyre beetles) and palm trees are not really trees (theyre grass). And just to set the record straight, shooting stars are actually meteors, not stars.

Finally, we have a group of misnomers which almost defy explanation. And how is it possible for our nose to run and our feet to smell? Is it really true that a shipment is sent by car while cargo is sent by ship. And in what other language could people recite at a play and play at a recital? Why do they call food servers waiters, when its the customers who do the waiting? Why do they call them buildings, when they are already built? And why is it called a TV set when you get only one?

Only in English you say that night falls but never breaks, and day breaks but never falls, and a slim chance and a fat chance are the same but a wise man and a wise guy are opposites.

English is a truly amazing language. Its full of misnomers, paradoxes, and verbal contradictions, yet it is loved by millions. What more can I say? The time has come for me to wind up this article and speaking of time, Id better wind up my watch while Im at it. And if it hasnt occurred to you, guess which one means to finish and which one means to start.

Ø 2) Find the definition of the word misnomer in the text.

Ø 3) Translate the words and expressions in commas into Russian.

Ø 4) What is the main idea of the article?


Ø 1) What does the title of the text imply?

Since English is so wide-spread, people try to construct its simpler varieties, for example:

Basic English which is simplified for easy international use. Manufacturers and other international businesses tend to write manuals and communicate in Basic English.

E-Prime in which forms of the verb to be are excluded.

Eurospeak (EuroEnglish) in which foreign realia and non-British concepts are translated into English.

Manually Coded English which is a representation of the English language with hand signals. These should not be confused with true sign languages such as British Sign Language and American Sign Language used in Anglophone countries, which are independent and not based on English.

Seaspeak and the related Airspeak and Policespeak, which are all based on restricted vocabularies. They were designed in the 1980s to aid international cooperation and communication in specific areas. There is also Tunnelspeak for the use in the Channel Tunnel.

Special English which is a simplified version of English used by the Voice of America. It uses a vocabulary of only 1500 words.


Ø 2) Share your opinion on the simplification of a language.


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