The Decline of British English, Visualized

in #steemit5 years ago

The Decline of British English, Visualized

While British English may rightfully claim the honor (honour?) of having anteceded its American cousin, there is no doubt that today American English is the defacto English in the world. Below are a few charts generated using Google Ngram Viewer that show the decline of the frequency of British English and the rise of American English in its stead.

Note: American spelling is in blue, while British is in red.

Gray vs. Grey

One of the early signs of the rise of American English can be seen in the prevalence of the American "gray" over the traditional "grey."

Flavor vs. Flavour

Further evidence of the ascent of American English after 1880 is visible in the increasing frequency of "flavor" in English-language publications.

Liter vs. Litre

Despite the metric system never having been accepted by the majority of Americans as a standard unit of measure at the turn of the 19th century, the American spelling of the units of volume gained wider popularity than did the British version.

Center vs. Centre

1913 marked a turning point in the usage of the British spelling, as the American alternative became more frequently used in literature. This was just a year before the beginning of World War I, which many view as a key period in America's rise to superpower status.

Defense vs. Defence

World War I also coincided with the growing usage of the American term as the nation's stature in the world increased.

Airplane vs. Aeroplane

After World War I drew to a close, the American term overtook its British counterpart in frequency of use in literature.

Fiber vs. Fibre

At around the same time, the world "fiber" was quickly becoming more popular than its predecessor.

Honor vs. Honour

Despite having lost their lead in most terms, the British can take pride in mounting an impressively long defense of "honour." The American spelling only managed to solidify its lead in the 70s. Interestingly, the word's frequency has dropped off significantly in the past two centuries.

Jail vs. Gaol

If there were ever a word that failed to make it across the Atlantic, it must be "gaol." Ever since the middle of the 19th century it has been fading into obscurity as even the British Isles slowly rejected the old spelling.

#steemit #history #data #english


Wow, certainly couldn't have expected that. Thanks for the find, @thisisbenbrick! Made a post about this and mentioned you:

Just noticed the article on daily mail now. Congrats man!

The evolution of languages is a fascinating topic! Thanks for sharing!

chesterfield versus couch or sofa!

Great use of Ngram and nice post!

Great post. I'm surprised so many of these words shifted so early though.

Nice, I follow you.
This reply is for you.

@oakstone, I found your post here on which is LEFT. I joined DIGG and I actually do DIGG British English even as an American from Oregon and even as it declines. I believe in preserving culture and traditions and accent and history. I like to debate with the left and right and with all kinds of people. I like different kinds of people around the world. I tend to like American English a bit more than British English but the accent of the queen can be very royal & trusting & lovable.