Is there a problem in learning American English and British English at the same time?


I've been learning American English. However, I happened to think that I need to learn British English. So I began to listen to BBC. I wonder if there is a problem in learning American English and British English at the same time. One of my worries is that my English might become strange both to native speakers of American and British English.

Makoto Kato

Posted 2015-10-06T00:13:04.787

Reputation: 1 976

Are you referring differences in speech (accent), vocabulary, or both? – user3169 – 2015-10-06T01:52:11.487

@user3169 Accent, vocabulary, grammar , idioms, and a lot of others. – Makoto Kato – 2015-10-06T02:13:40.307



Don't worry about it.

In the first place, we're a global village now, and in any community you would care to be part of different Englishes aren't regarded as strange or objectionable but merely as an interesting part of who you are.

In the second place, there is a lot of overlap between BrE and AmE dialects. My stepmother spoke pure genteel Tidewater Virginia, and she sounded far more "British" than "American".

In the third place, no matter what English dialect you emulate, what your speech is going to sound like is the English of a non-native speaker, until you are very proficient indeed. —And at this point, revisit the first place. Don't worry about how you sound: as long as your words are intelligible, your accent is part of who you are. Wear it with pride.

StoneyB on hiatus

Posted 2015-10-06T00:13:04.787

Reputation: 176 469

I don't much care about my accent. However, I care about vocabulary, grammar, and idioms. Do you understand British English almost perfectly(I suppose you are a native speaker of American English)? – Makoto Kato – 2015-10-06T13:19:29.133

@MakotoKato The differences are pretty trivial. My native dialect is East Alabama. I grew up reading mostly British literature and watching British TV shows. My linguistics professor in college was Austrian, my dissertation advisor in grad school was Welsh, my physician is South African. I've had no difficulty communicating with any of them. – StoneyB on hiatus – 2015-10-06T13:33:00.673

Oh, okay. But how about average Americans? – Makoto Kato – 2015-10-06T15:09:50.697

An average American would understand most British spellings - humour instead of humor, labour instead of labor. But we might raise our eyebrows if you mixed the two: I find lots of humour in my everyday labor. – John Feltz – 2016-12-29T20:21:02.810

1Most Americans would understand almost any British English speech, apart from maybe some very thick accents that are unfamiliar to our ears or very heavily slang-filled sentences. There are definitely some very real divergences in spelling and word usage, but it's still the same language and we can understand each other just fine. – PMV – 2016-12-30T02:17:19.577