Standard English

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Standard English (SE, also standardized English) is the dialect of English language that is used as the national norm—the standard language—in an English-speaking country, especially as the language for public and formal usage.[1] In England and Wales, the term standard English is associated with British English, the Received Pronunciation accent, and the United Kingdom Standard English (UKSE) grammar and vocabulary. In Scotland, the standard dialect is Scottish Standard English; in the United States, General American is the standard variety spoken in that country; and in Australia, the national standard is called General Australian English.[2]


Although a standard English is generally the most formal version of the language, a range of registers exists within any standardized English, as is often seen when comparing a newspaper article with an academic paper, for example. A distinction also may be drawn between spoken and written usage. Spoken dialects are looser than their written counterparts, and quicker to accept new grammatical forms and vocabulary. The various geographical varieties form a generally accepted set of rules, often those established by grammarians of the 18th 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" (though this does not refer to published standards documents, but to frequency of consistent usage). English is the first language of the majority of the population in a number of countries, including the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, the Bahamas and Barbados and is an official language in many others, including; India, Pakistan, the Philippines, South Africa and Nigeria.

As the result of colonisation and historical migrations of English-speaking populations, and the predominant use of English as the international language of trade and commerce (a lingua franca), English has also become the most widely used second language.[4] In countries where English is neither a native language nor widely spoken, a non-native variant (typically English English or North American English) might be considered "standard" for teaching purposes.[5] In some areas a pidgin or creole language, blends English with one or more native languages.


Although the standard Englishes of the various anglophone countries are very similar, often there are minor grammatical differences between them, as well as numerous vocabulary divergences. 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 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 not standard in most other standardized forms of English.



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

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Thorne 1997
  2. ^ Smith 1996
  3. ^ Smith 1996
  4. ^ "Oxford Dictionaries Online". Retrieved 2013-06-15.
  5. ^ Trudgill and Hannah, International English, pp. 1-2.
  6. ^ Burridge and Kortmann 2008
  7. ^ Mesthrie 2008


  • Bex, Tony; Richard J. Watts (1999). Standard English: The widening debate. Routledge. ISBN 0-415-19162-9.
  • 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 0-521-83606-9.
  • Crowley, Tony (2003). Standard English and the Politics of Language (2nd ed.). Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 0-333-99035-8.
  • Crystal, David (2006). The Fight for English: How language pundits ate, shot and left. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-920764-X.
  • 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 1-4039-9880-9.
  • Gorlach, Manfred. 1997. "The Linguistic History of English" (Basingstoke: Macmillan)
  • Gramley, Stephan; Kurt-Michael Pätzold (2004). A survey of Modern English. London: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-04957-1.
  • 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 0-521-83020-6.
  • Hickey, Raymond (ed.) (2012). Standards of English. Codified Varieties around the World. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521763899.CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
  • Hudson, Richard A. (1996). Sociolinguistics (2nd ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-56514-6.
  • 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 0-19-924931-8.
  • 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 0-521-77114-5.

External links[edit]