Alex Barnett blog


The Efficiency of (the) American English Language

As I've come to learn while living in the US, the American English language is more efficient than its British English cousin. The difference between the two languages is more than just fonetic phonetic simplification - the general rule seems to be about using fewer letters and words as a whole. Here are some of the examples I've bumped into:

American English British English Diff count Links to notes
Four hundred twenty Four hundred and twenty 3 notes
Delimiter Deliminator 2 notes
Oriented Orientated 2 notes
I use less words than you You use fewer words than me 1 notes
anesthetist anaesthetist 1 notes
color colour 1 notes
program programme 2 notes
aluminum aluminium 1 notes
donut doughnut 3 notes
yogurt yoghurt 2 notes
ass arse 1 notes
Duh! Of course 4 notes

As we know, most rules have an exception, and the "using fewer letters and words" rule is no exception:

American English British English Diff
Links to notes
Triple 2% grande double mocha vanilla extra hot latte add non-fat whipped cream Cup of tea -67 notes

 Color vs. Colour - The Great Spelling Battle

(pic from Color vs. Colour - The Great Spelling Battle)

Posted: Apr 29 2008, 09:27 AM by alexbarnett | with 9 comment(s)
Filed under: ,


rob margel said:

what exactly in American English does

'As I've come learn while living in the US'


Rob :)

# April 29, 2008 10:24 AM

Travis Jensen said:

Just remember, we Americans do it the correct way.  It wasn't until the 18th and 19th century that the British decided to "Frenchify" their language with the extra letters (colour instead of color, for instance).

Eventually you will get it right again. :)


# April 29, 2008 11:48 AM

alexbarnett said:

Rob - thanks for the observation, and nicely done :-) Have corrected.

Travis - au contraire! The Frenchification of the word from "program" to "programme" was in fact the greekification - "programma" an effort to go back to the roots of the word... see:  (and before you point it out, this is utter nonsense)

# April 29, 2008 1:49 PM

Travis Jensen said:

"Spelling programme, sometimes preferred in Britain, is from French and began to be used early 19c." ;)

# April 29, 2008 1:56 PM

alexbarnett said: you missed out the "(and before you point it out, this is utter nonsense)" bit in my prior comment... :-)

# April 29, 2008 2:02 PM

Jeremy said:

So what about:

lorry - truck (2 syllables vs. one)

petrol - gas

bloke - dude/guy

Maybe it's just because us Americans are lazy :)

# April 30, 2008 11:09 AM

Sass said:

"I use less words than you." Ick, eeuwww, ouch, no, no, noooooo! If this is "better," I'm emigrating tomorrow! Incorrect grammar, even if more "efficient," is still incorrect.

BTW, to be correct AND efficient, according to my 7th grade Study Skills teacher, your title "The Efficiency of (the) American English Language" should be "Efficiency of American English."

cheers, mate (or, to be more efficient, "Ta!")

# April 30, 2008 2:18 PM

Danny said:

Counter-examples? :

tap - faucet

car - auto(mobile)

car park - parking lot

nappy - diaper

flat - condominium

estate - station wagon

caravan - recreational vehicle :-)

I like (to) table, as used in meetings etc. Seems to have the opposite meaning either side of t'Atlantic.

ass/arse...brings to mind Fawlty's Waldorf Salad.

# May 1, 2008 5:35 AM

David said:

Centre - Center

Lift - Elevator

Trousers - Pants

# May 13, 2008 9:01 AM