Last Tuesday at the bank we read David Crystal’s excellent text under the title of Global English: Same language but different in Global pre-intermediate, which is about how American and British English differ in terms of vocabulary, informal and formal language and abbreviations. They really enjoyed reading it out loud and we took it from there and spun it into a highly interesting conversation … until it was time to end the lesson! The great thing about these lessons is that we get so much food for thought and have excellent conversations which we all enjoy, that we do not know where the time goes!
We discussed various words in American and British English. They remembered and mentioned some that they knew. I also mentioned a few and they were really interested in that, as the same happens with Swiss German and German: for instance, the word for bicycle is Fahrrad in German and Vélo in Swiss German! There is a whole list of different words. We expanded on expressions as well. Greetings are different in both as well. Even from canton to canton the language varies here in Switzerland. The way someone speaks in the canton of Zug is very different to someone from Bern, for instance.
Then we discussed abbreviations, be they in emails, text messages or such. I learned one that I did not know and is used widely in business world emails – TBA, which is ‘to be announced’! We spoke about how younger ages mostly use abbreviations in social media, especially Twitter and Facebook, even in spoken language – I mentioned how I once heard a teenager saying BRB (be right back)!
It is incredible how varieties are spoken from place to place, how different language can be even within the same country and how codes of communication have changed – sometimes, to the point of oversimplification. Even so, people manage to communicate and understand each other.
Thank you so much, David Crystal and Global!