Seeking differences between American English and English English around 1776 - 1815
April 20, 2009 8:15 AM   Subscribe

England and America, two countries separated by a common language. Check. What I'm looking for are resources that cover the differences in spoken English (accent, syntax, diction, catch-phrases - it's all good) between the two countries circa 1776-1815.

I recognize the regionalism of each country will complicate the matter, but whatever you have is welcome. Written is welcome if spoken is asking too much.
posted by IndigoJones to Writing & Language (9 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I think you would find some good catch-phrase stuff in Mencken's The American Language.
posted by erikgrande at 8:22 AM on April 20, 2009

For contemporary sources you could look into the writings by and about John Adams's experience as Ambassador to England.
posted by Pollomacho at 9:20 AM on April 20, 2009

Bill Bryon's Made in America.
posted by Zenabi at 9:45 AM on April 20, 2009

Seconding erikgrande's suggestion to have a look at H. L. Mencken's The American Language, which you can read online at Bartleby's for free.
posted by sciapod at 10:11 AM on April 20, 2009

If you want a scholarly survey, I suggest you look at John Hurt Fisher's chapter "British and American, Continuity and Divergence" in The Cambridge History of the English Language—not only his own essay but the other works he refers to should be very useful.

Mencken and Bryson are both amateurs; the former has some good material, but Bryson is pretty much worthless (except as a source of entertainment; he's a good writer and a lot of fun to read, but he's wrong so often you shouldn't read him for information).
posted by languagehat at 10:43 AM on April 20, 2009 [1 favorite]

You'll find it is Bill Bryson's 'MOTHER TONGUE'.

Incidentally it is Britain (not to be confused with one of it's constituent parts, England) that is seperated from the US by a common language.
posted by cameronfromedinburgh at 11:39 AM on April 20, 2009

I'll be sure to let the Welsh and Scots know that they can give up on their languages then.
posted by Pollomacho at 11:56 AM on April 20, 2009 [1 favorite]

That looks like the stuff, all right. I knew someone had to have done it.

Thanks to all.
posted by IndigoJones at 12:00 PM on April 20, 2009

cameronfromedinburgh: The Mother Tongue covers the history of the English language whereas Made in America covers "the history of the English language in the United States and the evolution of American culture."
posted by Zenabi at 11:13 PM on April 20, 2009

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