British English

British English is a term primarily used by people outside of the UK to refer to the form of the English language spoken in the British Isles.

The term is not welcomed by many Britons for a variety of reasons. Some people, particularly those from Scotland and Wales, argue that there are many different national dialects spoken throughout the British Isles and, as such, attempts to group them under one term is pointless and demeaning. Others, particularly those from England, find it offensive that the term treats their native tongue as a mere variant of a language.

Historically, the widespread usage of English across the world was attributed to the power held by the British Empire, and hence the most prestigious form of English was that used in south-east England (in the area around the capital city London, and the main English university towns of Oxford and Cambridge). This form of the language is associated with Received Pronunciation (RP), which is still regarded by many people outside the UK (especially in the United States) as "the British accent". From the second half of the 20th century to the present day, the pre-eminence of the English language has largely been linked to the economic, military and political dominance of the United States in world affairs, and American English is often regarded as the most prominent form of English in the world today, especially with the large amount of US cultural products (films, books, music, etc) around the world, which is not matched in volume by those from other English-speaking nations.

British English is still the model for the English spoken in many Commonwealth countries, including Australia, South Africa, and India, as well as in the European Union. Although British English is commonly used in the former British colony of Hong Kong, American English is often taught in Chinese schools, and throughout other schools in Asia.

Subtypes and dialects of the English language spoken in the British Isles

The dialects of the English language spoken throughout the British Isles can be loosely grouped as follows:

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