The English language is spoken in a variety of ways. It’s the official language of the UK, the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and in a number of former British colonies. English spoken in these countries differs in vocabulary, grammar and pronunciation. The varieties of the language are conditioned by language communities. Speaking about the nations we refer to the national variants of the language, that is the language of a nation, the standard of its form, the language of its nation’s literature.
It’s important to distinguish between dialect and accent. Dialect refers to variations in vocabulary, grammar and pronunciation, while accent means a type of pronunciation, that is the way sounds, stress, rhythm and intonation are used in the given language community. Today all the English-speaking nations have their own national variants of pronunciation (and national pronunciation standards) and their own peculiar features that distinguish them from other varieties of English. National pronunciation standards are associated with radio and TV newsreaders and public figures. It is generally accepted that for the «English English» the national standard is «Received Pronunciation» (RP), for the «American English» – «General American», for the «Australian English» – «Educated Australian».
National standards are not fixed; they undergo constant changes due to various internal and external factors.
Within a national language there are a number of territorial or regional standards. Regional standards are used by most educated people in the region, and show a certain degree of deviation from the national standard. In Britain several groups of regional accents are recognized: Southern, Northern, Welsh, Scottish and Northern Irish. In the United States there are three major groups: Southern, Western and Eastern. Less educated people use numerous local accents which can be either urban or rural. For certain economic, political and cultural reasons one of the dialects becomes the standard language of the nation. This was the case of London dialect whose accent became RP.
National variants of pronunciation
A language which is a mother tongue of several nations is called a polyethnic language. In a polyethnic language to which the English language belongs there can exist a great variety of pronunciation. First of all, a polyethnic language can have national variants or types of pronunciation. English is the mother tongue of several nations,thus it has the following national variants of pronunciation: British English, American English, Australian English, New Zealand English, Canadian English etc.
Now speaking about the nations we refer to the national variants of the language. The national language is a historical category evolving from conditions of economic and political concentration which characterizes the formation of a nation. In other words national language is the language of a nation, the standard of its form, the language of a nation’s literature.*****************************