Love Actually really painted the U.S. president as a big bully. I can see why; America definitely has that reputation. It especially did during the Bush years. Isn’t it ironic that Britain considers America a bully when originally we considered Britain to be a bully? It’s pretty interesting to think about the differences that have emerged between U.S. culture and British culture since the U.S. won its independence. Like why do Brits prefer tea and we prefer coffee? Why are Brits celebrated for their dry wit while we are more known for slapstick comedy? Why are they more civilized than we are? You know what? Maybe these differences don’t really exist. I mean, I like tea. Fawlty Towers is full of slapstick. Civilized is the last word that comes to mind when I think of Russell Brand. When it comes down to it, we’re all just people. John Lennon was right. We should all just live as one. This asshole in front of me should learn how to drive.
But even if the cultural differences are just stereotypes, there are definitely some linguistic disparities that have developed between Britain and the U.S.
For example, we deal differently with collective nouns.
A collective noun is a word used to describe a group of objects. In fact, the word group is a collective noun because in order to have a group of something, it must be made up of more than one. Other collective nouns include committee, troop, herd, and society.
In the United States, we tend to treat the collective noun as a singular noun, so we use a singular verb.
Congress has decided to consider collective nouns singular.
In Britain, they tend to treat the collective noun as plural, so they use the plural verb.
Parliament have decided to consider collective nouns plural.
I have always been interested to find out how and why American English is different from its British origin—not interested enough to actually do the research, but interested enough to form my own unfounded theories.
My theory regarding the difference between the ways the U.S. and Britain deal with collective nouns is that the U.S. decided to consider a group as one singular entity to stress the fact that we are united, as suggested by the name of our country.
My theory about why Americans use the term french fries instead of chips is because we believe that if it’s French it can’t make us fat.And my theory about why Americans use the word line instead of queue is because, let’s face it, we have enough issues with spelling.