As an independent nation, our honor requires us to have a system of our own, in language as well as government.
... several circumstances render a future separation of the American tongue from the English, necessary and unavoidable. ... These causes will produce, in a course of time, a language in North America, as different from the future language of England, as the modern Dutch, Danish and Swedish are from the German, or form one another: Like remote branches of a tree springing form the same stock; or rays of light, shot from the same center, and diverging from each other, in proportion to their distance from the point of separation.
Great Britain, whose children we are, and whose language we speak, should no longer be our standard; for the taste of her writers is already corrupted, and her language on the decline. But if it were not so, she is at too great a distance to be our model, and to instruct us in the principles of our own tongue (Webster, 1789).
It is not to be disputed that the form of government has an influence upon language, and language in its turn influences not only the form of government, but the temper, the sentiments, and manners of the people. The admirable models which have been transmitted through the world, and continued down to these days, so as to form an education of mankind from generation to generation, by those two ancient towns, Athens and Rome, would be sufficient, without any other argument, to show the United States the importance to their liberty, prosperity, and glory, of an early attention to the subject of eloquence and language.
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The question now occurs, ought the Americans to retain these faults which produced innumerable inconveniences in the acquisition and use of the language, or ought they at once to reform these abuses and introduce an order, and regularity into the orthography of the American tongue? [...] A capital advantage of this reform [...] would be, that it would make a difference between the English orthography and the American [...] a national language is a band of national union. [...] Let us seize the present moment, and establish a national language as well as a national government.
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To consolidate the use of Americanisms Noah Webster proposed that the spelling system of English be reformed to give American English a unique appearance in print. He was no more worried about the degeneracy of the language in Great Britain or the distance between America and the former colonist but rather about giving America a linguistic identity that matched its newly attained national identity. He saw it a marvellous opportunity to incorporate the common spelling errors into a standard that would be purely American.
I frequently used to correct people in the US when using words of Germanic origin with the "ei" or "ie" combination. I was taught (beaten?) that the sound is made by that last letter of the combination - ei is an "eye" sound, ie is an "ee" sound. Then, just recently, I discovered that in the US, Yiddish use of those combinations tends to switch those rules. Now there are some good reasons why Jewish people might choose to ignore German grammatical structures, but this was certainly news to me.
Doesn't stop me correcting people of course, An ass is an ass, after all.
If you look at 19th century records you will find that people didn't even spell their own name consistently. Literacy was fairly widespread, but of an indifferent standard in many cases.@terminal
A former colleague (a retired French naval Captain) collected first editions.
His pride and joy was one of the first books printed in the new colony, ie Pilgrim Fathers era.
I was interested to note that the spellings that differ from ‘standard’ English were all in the book, eg color, labor, honor, etc. So they date back to that time.
I have, in the past, been known to cite this to US friends and colleagues, with the rider ( and a smile): ‘Clearly, the Pilgrim Fathers were illiterate, and Americans have carried that forward to this day.’
Some smiled, some didn’t.
They didn't just stop at Webster's...To go back to Webster, here he is stating that creating a difference between systems of spelling would create a "national language" and that this would become a symbol of national unity.
The following is the most plausible explanation that I have read about why some countries drive on the right and some drive on the left.(...) Bit like the reason they drive on the right. Ford didn't think they'd be adroit enough to change gears with their left hand.
Please Sir, tell us the story about why our thick fat in-bred cousins are called Yanks?I suppose American English is more like English of old. Like the Z in ize instead of ise but earlier English had ize as in Enterprize.
They may muck up the pronunciation of croissant (the Spanish spell it cruasan which is the same pronunciation but looks silly although places like Lidl and Aldi use croissant) but things like erbs (which sounds terrible to us without the h) is generally said like that in most countries.
Same as OregANo as we say but most countries pronounce it oREgano as the Spams do. We were, after all, experts at changing place names to suit our Anglo Saxon mindset. Peking, Bombay, Calcutta and so on. Even people's names like Cristoforo Colombo in Italian or Cristobal Colon in Spanish (he was Italian but was sponsored by Spain). Name changes, whether goods, places or people, get Anglicized (SWIDT) and, eventually, Americanised.
(Oh, aluminum and aluminium are because of patents at the beginning and a fight between a Brit and a Yank on what to call it (speaking of which, we call them all Yanks when that is also wrong, just a certain Northern area).
The two big mistakes are the way they call that tasteless, fizzy gnat's pee beer and the paper stuff we normally use to separate slices as bacon.
(Standby for the white knighting spams (and plastic spams) to say there are thousands of micro breweries with decent beer and importing Canadian bacon - you still have to drink their beer ice cold in case you actually taste it and Canadian bacon is just one step up from paper).
Bit like the reason they drive on the right. Ford didn't think they'd be adroit enough to change gears with their left hand.