I’m kinda goin’ out on a limb here, but I’d say all English-speaking countries have their regional dialects and idiomatic expressions that are peculiar to a certain part of the country. For anyone out there who has ever taught English to non-native English speakers, that’s obvious. Just sayin’.
But I’m not sure if as many countries just change the language by creating new words like the Americans do. In one of my graduate level linguistic courses, my professor summed it up in a nice, neat little package. “Americans are linguistically lazy.” Wow. Being physically lazy is bad enough. But to be physically and linguistically lazy? Idk.
Caveat: I have spent most of my life living in the suburbs and more rural areas of southern New York State. I lived for 4 years in Ohio in college, and certainly there were different idiomatic expressions and accents there. But bear my Hudson Valley New York perspective in mind as I wax eloquent on fake new words. And just in case I was doing it right now, I looked up “wax eloquent vs. wax eloquently” and wax eloquent won.
In 1974, I lived and studied in Segovia, Spain while completing undergraduate work for my college degree in Romance Languages. Part-time, I taught English to some of the employees of local stores and restaurants. On the first day of class, a girl asked me what “djeet” meant. She wrote it down for me. I told her it isn’t a word in English. A few others said that yes, it is. We went back and forth while I was trying to figure out what language they were talking about. Perhaps Egyptian? Or Russian? How could I guess when I knew nothing about languages other than English and some of the Romance languages. Then it dawned on me. “Djeet” is actually four separate words in English that become one in American English. See for yourself.
Person A: Djeet lunch yet?
Person B: Nah I don’t wanna. I’m gonna later.
Person A: Well I’m kinda hungry so I’m gonna eat now.
Can you imagine explaining that one? “Oh, they are saying “did you eat yet.” Djeet. They looked at me like I had sprouted wings. Then they all practiced. I was like no no no you don’t wanna learn to speak like that. They asked why? Ummmm….just ‘cuz.
On my first day living with my Spanish family, the mother of the family said that they knew 2 words in American English. “Yeeeeeeeeeees” and “nooooooooo.” Oh, man, I never thought about the fact that we draw those two words out for a looooooong time. I don’t think they do that in the U.K. I think they probably clip the words to the correct length with “yes” and “no.” If the above isn’t proof enough, it was common to see “Se Habla Inglés” and “Se Habla Americano” signs in the same shop windows. Geesh.
Frequently we don’t even say yeeeees and noooooo. Yeah and nah. Jeez, even writing them down here is making me cringe. Nope, I don’t say “nah” but I do say “yeah.” Yup, that’s right. I do.
A difference, obviously, is if one is writing formally or informally. Formally, we would write “I want to go to the cafeteria. Do you want to go with me?” But if someone actually said the words aloud like that, it would turn heads. Informally, want to and going to become wanna and gonna. Or wunna and gunna, depending where in the United States you live. Which causes a problem for students because thanks to social media sites such as Twitter, abbreviating words is a plus. Which then carries over to formal writing. “R they gonna have a civil war in country X? Idk. But history teaches us…..” and on and on. 🙂