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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Standard English (often shortened to S.E. within linguistic circles) is a form of the English language that is accepted as a national norm.[1] It encompasses grammar, vocabulary, and spelling. In Britain, it is often associated with the RP accent, and in America with the General American accent but in fact can be spoken with any pronunciation.[2]


Multiple definitions

Although Standard English is generally the most formal version of the language, there is still a range of formality available within Standard English, as we can often see if we compare a newspaper article with an academic paper, for example. A distinction also needs to be drawn between spoken and written standards. Spoken standards are traditionally looser than their written counterparts, and quicker to accept new grammatical forms and vocabulary. The various geographical varieties of S.E. more or less adhere in their written form to a generally-accepted set of rules, often those established by grammarians of the eighteenth century.[3]

English originated in England during the Anglo-Saxon period, and is now spoken as a first or second language in many countries of the world, many of which have developed one or more "national standards". English is the first language of the majority of the population in a number of countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, and Jamaica, and is an official language in many others

As the result of historical migrations of English-speaking populations and colonization, and the predominant use of English as the international language of trade and commerce (lingua franca), English has also become the most widely-used second language,[4]. In countries where English is either not a native language or is not widely spoken, a native variant (typically English English or North American English) might be considered "standard" for teaching purposes.[5].


The article English grammar describes the grammar of Standard English.

Although the Standard Englishes of the various Anglophone countries are very similar, there are nonetheless often minor grammatical differences between them. In American and Australian English, for example, "sunk" and "shrunk" as past tense forms of "sink" and "shrink" are beginning to become acceptable as standard forms, whereas standard British English still insists on "sank" and "shrank".[6] In White South African English, the deletion of verbal complements is becoming common. This phenomenon sees the objects of transitive verbs being omitted: "Did you get?", "You can put in the box". [7] This kind of construction is non-standard in most other forms of standard English.


Vocabulary is an area which differs more widely between regional standards. Some examples, particularly those affecting British and American English, are well known. British English uses "trousers" where American English uses "pants"; British English uses "pants" where American English uses "underwear".

A common feature of spoken Australian English is the use of hypocoristic words, which are formed by either shortening or the addition of a particular ending, or by a combination of these two processes. Examples are "medico" (medical practitioner), "blockie" (someone farming a block of land), "ump" (umpire).


With rare exceptions, Standard Englishes use either American or British spelling systems, or a mixture of the two (such as in Canadian English). British spellings usually dominate in Commonwealth countries.

See also


  • Bex, Tony; Richard J. Watts (1999). Standard English: The widening debate. Routledge. ISBN 0415191629. 
  • Blake, N. F. 1996. "A History of the English Language" (Basingstoke: Palgrave)
  • Burridge, Kate and Bernd Kortmann (eds). 2008. "Varieties of English: vol 3, The Pacific and Australasia" (Berlin and NY: Mouton de Gruyter)
  • Coulmas, Florian; Richard J. Watts (2006). Sociolinguistics: The study of speaker's choices. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0521836069. 
  • Crowley, Tony (2003). Standard English and the Politics of Language (2nd ed.). Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 0333990358. 
  • Crystal, David (2006). The Fight for English: How language pundits ate, shot and left. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 019920764X. 
  • Crystal, David. 1997. "A Dictionary of Linguistics and Phonetics" 4th ed. (Oxford: Blackwell)
  • Durkin, Philip. "Global English", Oxford English Dictionary, 2007. Accessed 2007-11-07.
  • Freeborn, Dennis (2006). From Old English to Standard English: A Course Book in Language Variations Across Time (3rd ed.). Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 1403998809. 
  • Gorlach, Manfred. 1997. "The Linguistic History of English" (Basingstoke: Macmillan)
  • Gramley, Stephan; Kurt-Michael Pätzold (2004). A survey of Modern English. London: Routledge. ISBN 0415049571. 
  • Harder, Jayne C., Thomas Sheridan: A Chapter in the Saga of Standard English, American Speech, Vol. 52, No. 1/2 (Spring - Summer, 1977), pp. 65-75.
  • Hickey, Raymond (2004). Legacies of Colonial English. Essen University: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0521830206. 
  • Hudson, Richard A. (1996). Sociolinguistics (2nd ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0521565146. 
  • Kortmann, Bernd and Clive Upton (eds). 2008. "Varieties of English: vol 1, The British Isles" (Berlin and NY: Mouton de Gruyter)
  • Mesthrie, Rajend (ed). 2008. "Varieties of English: vol 4, Africa, South and Southeast Asia" (Berlin and NY: Mouton de Gruyter)
  • Mugglestone, Lynda (2006). The Oxford History of English. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0199249318. 
  • Schneider, Edgar W. (ed). 2008. "Varieties of English: vol 2, The Americas and the Caribbean" (Berlin and NY: Mouton de Gruyter)
  • Smith, Jeremy. 1996. "An Historical Study of English: Function, Form and Change" (London: Routledge)
  • Thorne, Sarah. 1997. "Mastering Advanced English Language" (Basingstoke: Macmillan)
  • Wright, Laura (2000). The Development of Standard English, 1300 - 1800: Theories, descriptions, conflicts. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0521771145. 

External links


  1. ^ Thorne 1997
  2. ^ Smith 1996
  3. ^ Smith 1996
  4. ^ [1]
  5. ^ Trudgill and Hannah, International English, pp. 1-2.
  6. ^ Burridge and Kortmann 2008
  7. ^ Mesthrie 2008


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

Wikipedia has an article on:




Standard English


Standard English (uncountable)

  1. (linguistics) The English language as it is spoken and written by educated native users.
    Students with a pronounced Midland South dialect are required to take a course teaching them to speak and write in Standard English.


Standard English (comparative more Standard English, superlative most Standard English)

Standard English

more Standard English

most Standard English

  1. (linguistics) Of, relating to, or characteristic of the English language as it is spoken and written by educated native users.
    A debate rages on whether or not the singular they constitutes Standard English usage.


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