By Todd Balazovic
The notion that American English is superior to British English, or vice versa, seems senseless. How can one slight variation of the same language be superior to another?
The whole purpose of any language is to communicate. Whether you call you it a "sweater" or a "jumper", the "subway" or the "underground", as long as people understand what you are trying to say, it doesn't matter how you arrive there.
There are instances where the differences in the two languages have created confusion.
Winston Churchill once told a story of a meeting between British and American Allied Forces in World War II and how it was suggested that an issue be tabled.
The Americans understood this to mean it should be put aside and dealt with later.
The British, however, believed the phrase meant it should be dealt with immediately. The days following must surely have been quite exciting.
The basis of the American English versus British English argument seems all too black and white. It is simplistic to clump American English and British English into two distinct categories.
In the US there is a wide-variety of dialectal differences from each cardinal direction, each one as different from the other as it is from British English.
Take the sweet bubbly substance people from the Mid-western parts of the US (myself included) call "pop".
In America's south, calling it "pop" would draw stares from your waitress as they term it "soda". In other parts of the states, it's correct to refer to any fizzy drink simply as "coke".
There are similar variations throughout the UK with the drink being described as "cola", "soft drink", "something fizzy", and endless other amusing variations.
My point remains that an argument suggesting one language is paramount to another is ethnocentricity. Attacking another's language is belittling a culture.
While there is an understandable call for uniformity in print media, I think it's also important to consider the audience.
Granted, there are moments when another culture's varied vernacular leaves me questioning what was said.
For example, I have heard British buddies refer to a person as "lagged" but not in its ordinary dictionary use. I am still trying to figure out what that one means.
And there have been other moments when I notice an exclusively American term has created a mass of confused faces.
There are mixed feelings too from students taking English as a second language.
I learned from a few Chinese students that British English is easier to learn because it uses a softer "R" than American English.
But I've also heard that the American accent can be easier to understand (I don't think they've heard a thick southern accent.)
English as a whole is an ever-evolving and rapidly expanding entity.
Saying one version of the same language is superior is akin to comparing your left hand to your right - its a pointless act that can make you look silly in public.