American vs English English

Hinted at by

“American and British writing has always been and continues to be a common language. Except for a few idioms and typographical conventions, it is impossible to tell whether a writer is American or British. There are more differences between the styles within each tradition than between the two traditions…

the degree of divergence varies inversely with the degree of importance of the subject-matter. That is, where the ideas to be expressed are trivial or facetious the two vernaculars differ so widely that they may almost be said to be foreign languages to each other. When the subject-matter is purely practical or commonplace, the divergence, though noticeable, is of secondary importance; and, finally, when the subject matter is of the highest quality, being concerned with ideal values and fundamental concepts, the divergence is so slight as to be almost negligible. 

Although it may not be possible in a collection of formal written documents to discern, except by spelling, which are by British writer and which by Americans, it is easy in any gathering of speakers to distinguish the British from the American. The pronunciation by which British speakers are distinguished is Received Pronunciation, Oxford English, Public School English, BBC English, or standard British English, as it is variously designated.

Received Pronunciation developed at the end of the eighteenth century, during the period of the American Revolution. At that time there was no pronunciation by which people in America could be distinguished from the people in England.

In the eighteenth century, British society began to shift from caste determined by birth to class determined by wealth and occupation, and tools began to be provided for upward mobility. London had long been the political and cultural focus of Britain, so the language of London was recognised as the prestige dialect.

London grammar and lexicon were propagated by grammarians and lexicographers … London pronunciation became the prerogative of a new breed of specialists – orthoepists and teachers of elocution. The orthoepists decided upon correct pronunciations, compiled pronouncing dictionaries and, in private and expensive tutorial sessions, drilled enterprising citizens in fashionable articulation… John Walker introduced the term “Received Pronunciation”. London pronunciation, he wrote, “is undoubtedly the best… that is, not only by courtesy, and because it happens to be the pronunciation of the capital, but best by a better title, that of being more generally received.” .. ‘Received’ in the sense that Walker it, means, “Generally adopted” or “approved”.


Statfor decade forecast

“There is no decade without pain, and even in the most perfect of times, there is suffering. The crises that we expect in the next decade are far from the worst seen in the past century, and they are no worse than those we will see in the next. There is always the expectation that what we know now as reality will define the future. There is also the belief that our pain now is the most extraordinary anguish that has ever been. This is simply narcissism. What we have now will always change — usually sooner than we believe possible. The pains we are having now are merely the normal pains of being human. ”



“When we want culture more than potatoes, and illumination more than sugar-plums, then the great resources of a world are taxed and drawn out, and the result, or staple production, is, not slaves, nor operatives, but men, – those rare fruits called heroes, saints, poets, philosophers, and redeemers.”

Henry Thoreau, Life without principle

“A little red wine, vintage record, some Ambien … and magic!”

Elon Musk, Shareholders’ meeting, June 2017

“Human beings don’t like things that are unexplained. We want the comfort and sense of safety that comes from predictability. Perhaps as we are evolved biological organisms, uncertainty is unsettling to us. And, in the scientific era, we assume a material understanding of causation.

That’s what the idea of determinism represents in a simple, easy-to-grasp way. We want to be in control, to be able to manipulate nature to alleviate the problems that we face in a finite life in a finite world. We want our causes to be simple, real causes, and that is perhaps why the metaphor of the gene as the atom of causation in life is so easy to absorb, and its subtleties so easy to overlook.

We are made very uneasy by things that are only probabilistic unless, as in coin-flipping, we can sense what’s going on. When we can’t see it, and causation is many-to-many, that is far too much for our minds to deal with easily. Yet that seems to be the reality of the world.”

“If we’d needed a sermon, we’d have gone to a church. If we’d wanted to hear poetry, we’d have gone to the theater. From UN officials — especially from leaders of the UN Secretariat, when they’re invited to address the Security Council — one expects an objective analysis of events. Clearly you haven’t managed this.”

  • Vitali Churkin, to Stephen O’Brien on Syria

“What will it take to tame the fire, and to remember that fire can be a companion to invention? To understand that for fire to play its companion role, those who use it are required to bring a lot more thought, a lot more rigour in their thinking, a lot more thoughtful detail in their doing, a lot more investment in time and focus to understand the rich complexity of people living in the social realm?”

  • Njabulo Ndebele

“To me the greatness of a country is not measured in its size or the number of tanks it has, but in its citizens’ quality of life and their attitude toward one another. And also in its economy. If we had a normal economic system in Russia, its merchant fleet could be one of the biggest in the world. But it’s not about industry changes — some deep and global changes in the whole country are required.”

  • Mikhail Voitenko

“But what is confounding is the degree to which, to cite Jean-François Revel (who was a friend of mine as well as of Wolton), knowledge of the past can go tragically unused, and how the same mistakes, the same wilful ignorance, can return – and not always, pace Marx, as farce.”

“Putin alone has the right to decide who stays and who goes, and not because this one stole or didn’t steal, but because “that’s how it’s done” in the backroom battle between economic entities for an ever-shrinking cut of the financial and material resources available. And if people get this idea into their heads, they begin thinking of themselves as the arbiters of the political process. And rulers consider that more dangerous than even the most monstrous corruption.”

  • Georgy Bovt

“The peculiar evil of silencing the expression of an opinion is, that it is robbing the human race; posterity as well as the existing generation; those who dissent from the opinion, still more than those who hold it. If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth: if wrong, they lose, what is almost as great a benefit, the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth, produced by its collision with error.”

  • John Stuart Mill

“I have quietly, without any pomp and noise, moved to Karabakh, bought a mill, begun grinding grain . . . checked prices for sheep,” Sterligov told “Where else would I go? Not to the US, where same-sex marriage is permitted . . . nor to Europe, knowns for its gender perversions . . . Nor I have anything to do with the Muslims, for I am a Christian man.”

German Sterligov

Ah the things people say 🙂

“Indeed, like Goebbels, Surkov understands that when public life and private expression can be turned into theater, there is no difference between performance and reality. ”–khrushcheva-2015-06#jSyEUMLyHYMKjAIZ.99

“I thought he was an old man,” Paul said of Willie, whose radio persona was the “ol’ cotton-picking, snuff-dipping, tobacco-chewing, stump-jumping, gravy-pot sopping, coffee pot dodging, dumpling-eating, frog-giggin’ hillbilly from Hill County, Texas.

“Human drivers think Orion is illogical because they can’t grok Orion’s super-logic. Perhaps any sufficiently advanced logic is indistinguishable from stupidity. “

“Swallow a toad in the morning and you will encounter nothing more disgusting the rest of the day.”
N. Chamfort
“My songs are of time and distance. The sadness is in you.”
-William Gibson
“А в комнате опального поэта
Дежурят страх и Муза в свой черед.
И ночь идет,
Которая не ведает рассвета.”

“But Fear and the Muse take turns to guard, the room where the exiled poet is banished, and the night, marching at full pace, of the coming dawn, has no knowledge.

Anna Achmatova


“Liberty requires accepting the freedom to offend, yes, but it also allows people, institutions and communities to both call for and exercise restraint.”

It is this combination of freedom and responsibility that I find most misunderstood by those with whom I discuss such matters every now and again. Complete freedom, though permitting of all things, and perhaps even though at times necessitating all manner of things, does not imply the doing of all such things. Liberty, providing the potential, the possibility, even the context for an action, should rarely if ever be the motive for that same action. The spirit of restraint is not restraint in the name of not offending or not hurting; the spirit of restraint is the spirit of acting motivated by reasons worthy of being acted upon.