When doing business in today’s globalized world, all of the expert advice suggests learning to speak a little of your host’s language. If you’re British (or have learned British English) then you might think you have a head start in the USA. In fact, the differences between British and American English are substantial.
The approaching Fourth of July holiday (or should that be July Fourth?) is a reminder that American and British English share a common ancestry. Yet, despite the modern day United States having it’s roots in British colonialism, the two main branches of the English language have diverged quite markedly over the past 250 years.
Having a firm knowledge of the differences and deploying American English correctly is, as I am discovering as a British expat living and working in San Francisco, crucial to business success in the United States.
What, then, are the key differences, how should you handle them and why are British and American English so different?