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Differences between American, British, and Australian English

My answer to: What are the differences between American, British and Australian English? (To vote and comment on Quora, visit the link here.)

My answer covers differences in phonetics. Some major differences in phonetics go this way:

  • The /r/ sound is not heard in British and Australian English unless it comes just before a vowel sound in the next word. For example: in “far away”, the /r/ is heard, but not in “the other man”. In American English, all instances of /r/ are heard.
  • The vowel /ɒ/ is a feature of British English, not American English. This vowel lies somewhere between /ɑː/ and /ɔː/. American English uses either /ɑː/ or /ɔː/ wherever British English uses /ɒ/. So “dog” is /dɒg/ in BrE, but /dɔːg/ in American. “got” is /gɒt/ in BrE, but /gɑːt/ in American.
  • The diphthongs /ɪə ʊə ɛə/, as in “near”, “pure”, “hair”, are used in British English. The Americans pronounce these as /ɪr ʊr ɛr/. So “near” is just like “nit” with “t” replaced by “r”, and likewise.
  • Tapping of /t/: In American English, if a /t/ sound is between two vowels, and the second vowel is not stressed, the /t/ sound is pronounced very quickly. So “twenty” would sound more like “twenny” with a very slight /t/ sound.
  • The diphthong /əʊ/ of British English is heard as /oʊ/ in American English. So the word “so” is /səʊ/ in BrE and /soʊ/ in American.

Australian English has very similar phonetic features as British English. One major difference I have observed is that /ɛɪ/ of British English sounds like /ɑɪ/ when said by Aussies. So “plate” sounds more like “plight” in Australian English.

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