An Introduction To American English / Edition 1

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An Introduction to American English explores American English in the context of American history and institutions, while also making comparisons with British English.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A splendidly informative, yet lucid and easy-to-consult work. It contains all one might expect - such as clear chapters on vocabulary and accent - but also much much more: the sections on American culture, metaphor, greetings, swearwords, and websites are super-useful."
Jean Aitchison, Worcester College, University of Oxford

"I have many excellent European students whose English grammar is first-class but who have no idea what a sophomore is. This book is a wonderful introduction to the interface between American English and American society which attends not only to linguistic detail but also to the way in which the culture of Americans is reflected in their language."
Peter Trudgill, Fribourg University

"This textbook is thus highly recommended to students of English with basic reading knowledge and teachers of English (prospective teachers, too) as a second or foreign language virtually anywhere in the world. Native speakers of American English will also find this book interesting." (Journal of Sociolinguistics)

"Overall, this book not only provides a clear overview of the distinguishing characteristics of American English but also the historical and cultural background to explain those characteristics." (Studies in Second Language Acquisition)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780631197928
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 12/31/2001
  • Series: Language Library Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 6.02 (w) x 9.02 (h) x 0.72 (d)

Meet the Author

Gunnel Tottie is Professor of English Linguistics at the University of Zurich, Switzerland. She is author of Negation in English Speech and Writing (1991) and editor of Creating and Using English Language Corpora (with Udo Fries and Peter Schneider, 1994), and Negation in the History of English (with Ingrid Tieken-Boon van Ostade and Wim van der Wurff, 1999).

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Table of Contents

List of Figures.

List of Tables.



Recommended Reading.

Part I: Writing it and Saying it:.

1. Introduction.

2. Writing American or British.

3. The Pronunciation of American English.

Individual Sounds.


Recommended Reading.


Part II: American History for Language Students:.

1. Introduction.

2. Geography: Background.

3. Before English.

4. The Colonial Period.

5. From Independence to Civil War.

Territorial Expansion.

The Civil War 1861–5.

6. After the Civil War.

Reconstruction in the South 1865–77.

The Situation of African Americans.

Further Territorial Expansion.

Industrial and Financial Expansion; Immigration.

Social Problems and Labor Relations.

The Women's Movement.

Religious Movements and Fundamentalism.

Foreign Politics.

Domestic Politics in the Twentieth Century.

Recommended Reading.


Part III: Running America: Government and Education:.

1. Introduction.

2. Government According to the US Constitution.

The Amendments.

Governmental Institutions.

3. Political Parties.

4. Elections.

5. State and Local Government.

6. Education.

Public Schools.

Higher Education.

Recommended Reading.


Part IV: Life and Language in the United States:.

1. Introduction.

2. Holidays.

3. Eating in America, Shopping and Paying.

4. Living Quarters.

5. What to Wear.

6. Getting Around.

7. Names in North America.

Place Names.

Personal Names.

8. Life and Language.

Recommended Reading.

Part V: American English Vocabulary: A Systematic View:.

1. Introduction.

2. What is an Americanism?.

3. How Can we Find Out About Differences between American and British English?.



4. A Typology of Differences.

A Form-Based Classification.

A Classification Based on Semantic Categories.

5. Slang.

6. Enlarging and Changing the Vocabulary.






Creations and Words of Unknown Origin.

Recommended Reading.

Some Useful Dictionaries.


Part VI: Caught Out or Caught Off Base? Metaphors in American English:.

1. Introduction.

2. Money and Business Metaphors.

3. Food Metaphors.

4. Sports Metaphors.

5. Transportation Metaphors: Trains, Cars, and Highways.

6. Gun Metaphors.

7. Political Metaphors.

8. Spatial Metaphors: Where It's At.

Recommended Reading.

Part VII: The Grammar of American English:.

1. Introduction.

2. Nouns and Articles.


The Genitive.



3. Verbs and Auxiliaries.

Verb Forms (Morphology).

Verb Complementation.

Aspect and Tense.

Phrasal Verbs.


The Mandative Subjunctive.

Tag Questions.

Questions with How Come?.

4. Pronouns.

Personal Pronouns.

Demonstrative Pronouns.

Relative Pronouns and Other Relative Markers.

Indefinite Pronouns.

5. Adjectives.

6. Adverbs and Adverbials.

Adverb or Adjective?.

Indefinite Adverbs: Someplace, Anyplace, Noplace.

Special Uses of Adverbs: Sure, Enough, Ever.

Adverb Placement.

7. Prepositions.

8. Conjunctions.

9. Concluding Remarks.

Recommended Handbooks.

Part VIII: Using English in the United States.

1. Introduction.

2. Spoken Interaction.

What Can you Talk About?.

Openings and Closings.

Making the Right Noises: Vocalizations and Marginal Words.


Discourse Markers and Hedges.

Verbs of Saying, "Quotatives".

Telephone Calls.

3. Politeness in Interaction: Talking to Others.


Excuses and Apologies.

Forms of Address.


Self-Assertiveness in Conversation.

Expressions of Emotions, Swearing and Cursing.

4. Politeness and Political Correctness: Talking About Others.

Gender and Language.

Ethnic Minorities.

Sexual Minorities.

Other Minorities.

Political Correctness.

Recommended Reading.


Part IX: Varieties of American English:.

1. Introduction: Regional and Social Variation in Language.

2. Dialectology and Sociolinguistics.

3. Regional Dialects.

The North-East.

The South.

Features of Other American Dialects.

4. Social Varieties (Sociolects).

Sociolinguistic Variation in New York City.

Widespread Non-Standard Features.

5. Ethnic Varieties.

Black English/African American Vernacular English.

Chicano English.

Other Ethnic Varieties.

6. Varieties and Standards.

Recommended Reading.


Part X: Language Politics in the United States: English and Other Languages:.

1. Introduction.

2. Population Structure and Linguistic Diversity.

3. Native American Languages.

4. Immigrant Languages.

5. Language Politics in the United States.

Language and Education: A Historical Survey.

For "Official English".

Against "English Only".

English Language Laws.

Bilingual Education: The Case of California.

6. American English in the United States and in the World.

Recommended Reading.



Linguistic Glossary.

Index of Alphabetisms and Acronyms.

Index of Zip Codes for States.

Subject Index.

Word Index.

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