British English

British English
Native toUnited Kingdom
EthnicityBritish people
Early forms
Standard forms
Latin (English alphabet)
Unified English Braille
Official status
Official language in
Language codes
ISO 639-3
IETFen-GB[1][2]
Overview of differences in spelling for American, British, Canadian and Australian English.
An overview of differences in spelling across English dialects.

British English (BrE) is, according to Oxford Dictionaries, "English as used in Great Britain, as distinct from that used elsewhere".[3][6] More narrowly, it can refer specifically to the English language in England, or, more broadly, to the collective dialects of English throughout the British Isles taken as a single umbrella variety, for instance additionally incorporating Scottish English, Welsh English, and Northern Irish English. Tom McArthur in the Oxford Guide to World English acknowledges that British English shares "all the ambiguities and tensions [with] the word 'British' and as a result can be used and interpreted in two ways, more broadly or more narrowly, within a range of blurring and ambiguity".[7]

Variations exist in formal (both written and spoken) English in the United Kingdom. For example, the adjective wee is almost exclusively used in parts of Scotland, North East England, Northern Ireland, Ireland, and occasionally Yorkshire, whereas the adjective little is predominant elsewhere. Nevertheless, there is a meaningful degree of uniformity in written English within the United Kingdom, and this could be described by the term British English. The forms of spoken English, however, vary considerably more than in most other areas of the world where English is spoken[8] and so a uniform concept of British English is more difficult to apply to the spoken language.

  1. ^ "English"; IANA language subtag registry; retrieved: 11 January 2019; subject named as: en; publication date: 16 October 2005.
  2. ^ "United Kingdom"; IANA language subtag registry; retrieved: 11 January 2019; subject named as: GB; publication date: 16 October 2005.
  3. ^ "BRITISH ENGLISH | Meaning & Definition for UK English". Lexico.com. Archived from the original on 12 November 2020. Retrieved 18 February 2022.
  4. ^ "British English; Hiberno-English". Oxford English Dictionary (2 ed.). Oxford, England: Oxford University Press. 1989.
  5. ^ British English, Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary
  6. ^ The Oxford English Dictionary applies the term to English as "spoken or written in the British Isles; esp[ecially] the forms of English usual in Great Britain", reserving "Hiberno-English" for the "English language as spoken and written in Ireland".[4] Others, such as the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary, define it as the "English language as it is spoken and written in England".[5]
  7. ^ McArthur (2002), p. 45.
  8. ^ Jeffries, Stuart (27 March 2009). "The G2 Guide to Regional English". The Guardian. section G2, p. 12.

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