English in America



The end of the eighteenth century saw the flowering of English in America. Many interesting accounts were written about the lives of pioneers and Indians. Washington Irving wrote interesting stories of the Dutch settlers in the Hudson valley. Walt Whitman wrote poems on the Civil War.

The classics Little Women by Louisa May Alcott and Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe were written in the Nineteenth century. With the opening up of the West after the Civil War, a new type of realistic writing began with Mark Twain. He wrote The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn based on his experiences in the rapidly growing new country.

Then came a succession of great novelists like Henry James, Ernest Hemingway, F Scott Fitzgerald and Norman Mailer.

America’s leading position in commerce, films and finance has invigorated the English language with many new terms such as the phrase ‘to get down to brass tacks’ and the verb ‘to fix’ as used in the sentence ‘I’ll fix it for you’. Certain distinctions can be found in the use of British English and American English. American spellings such as program, disk, color, meter and center are becoming increasingly popular. The rhythm and intonation of speech in American English is significantly different from British English. Archaisms such as the preservation of ‘gotten’ as the past participle of ‘get’ or the term ‘fall’ for ‘autumn’ are used in American English.