American & British English 美式英文&英式英文

Thu, Oct 10, 2019 - Page 15

Today is Double Ten, the Republic of China’s National Day. America’s national day is July 4, known as Independence Day, commemorating the July 4, 1776 US Declaration of Independence from Britain. There is no British national day, although the monarch’s official birthday, marked in the UK since 1748, is sometimes seen as its national day. The official birthday is not the same as the monarch’s actual birthday, and it is celebrated in late May or early June, because the weather is nicer at that time of year in the UK.

After the US declared independence, the American lexicographer Noah Webster was keen to standardize American speech and spelling, and also cement the distinction between British English and American English. He did not invent most of the characteristically American spellings, such as removing the “u” in words like “color” or “favorite,” but he was instrumental in popularizing them, especially with his An American Dictionary of the English Language, published in 1828. As a spelling reformer, he preferred already existing alternative spellings, such as “color” or “center,” that better reflected the actual pronunciation. Not all of his suggested alternatives have been adopted, however: he used “cloke” for “cloak,” “tung” for “tongue”; “thum” for “thumb,” “wimin” for “women” and “steddy” for “steady,” for example.

(Paul Cooper, Taipei Times)

今天是雙十節──中華民國國慶日。美國的國慶是在七月四日,稱做「Independence Day」(獨立紀念日),以紀念美國在一七七六年七月四日宣布脫離英國而獨立。英國並沒有國慶日,雖然自一七四八年以來,英國有時會把君主的官方生日訂為國慶日。君主的官方生日並非其實際生日,而是在五月下旬或六月初來慶祝,因為英國每年這段時間的天氣比較好。

美國宣布獨立後,美國字典學家諾亞‧韋伯斯特便積極將美國的語音和拼寫標準化,並進一步將英式英文和美式英文之間的區別加以鞏固。大多數典型的美國拼寫──例如「color」(顏色)及「favorite」(最喜愛的),是將「colour」、「favourite」等字中的「u」刪除──並不是韋伯斯特發明的,但他是將美式拼寫普及化的推手,尤其是他出版於一八二八年的《美國英語詞典》。韋伯斯特是拼寫改革者,他偏好選用既存的、更能反映實際發音的拼寫方式,例如「color」或「center」(中間),而非英式的「colour」和「centre」。但並不是所有韋伯斯特的建議都被接受,他曾提出用「cloke」代替「cloak」(斗篷)、用「tung」代替「tongue」(舌頭)、用「thum」代替「thumb」(大拇指)、用「wimin」代替「women」(女人)、用「steddy」代替「steady」(穩定)等,但並未獲得採納。

(台北時報林俐凱譯)