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Language experts say/ that spoken English/ was almost the same/ in the American colonies and Britain. Americans/ began to change the sound/ of their speech/ after the Revolutionary War/ in seventeen seventy-six. They wanted to separate themselves/ from the British/ in language/ as they had separated themselves/ from the British government.

Some American leaders/ proposed major changes/ in the language. Benjamin Franklin/ wanted a new system/ of spelling. His reforms/ were rejected. But his ideas/ influenced others. One/ was Noah Webster.

Webster/ wrote language books/ for schools. He thought/ Americans/ should learn/ from American books. He published his first spelling book/ in seventeen eighty-three. Webster/ published The American Dictionary of the English Language/ in eighteen twenty-eight. It established rules/ for speaking and spelling the words/ used in American English.

Webster believed/ that British English spelling rules/ were too complex. So/ he worked to establish an American version/ of the English language. For example, he spelled the word “center” “c-e-n-t-e-r”/ instead of the British spelling, “c-e-n-t-r-e”. He spelled the word “honor” “h-o-n-o-r”/ instead of “h-o-n-o-u-r”/ as it is spelled in Britain.

Noah Webster said/ every part of a word/ should be spoken. That is/ why Americans/ say “sec-re-ta-ry”/ instead of “sec-re-t’ry”/ as the British do. Webster’s rule/ for saying every part of a word/ made American English/ easier/ for immigrants/ to learn. For example, they learned to say “waist-coat”/ the way it is spelled/ instead of the British “wes-kit”.

The different languages/ of the immigrants/ who came to the United States/ also helped make American English/ different from British English. Many foreign words and expressions/ became part of English/ as Americans speak it.

Sometimes/ Americans and British people/ do not understand/ each other/ because of different word meanings. For example, a “jumper” in Britain/ is a sweater. In the United States, it is a kind of a dress. The British word “brolly”/ is an “umbrella”/ in America. A “wastebasket”/ in America/ is a “dustbin”/ in Britain. French fried potatoes/ in the United States/ are called “chips”/ in Britain.

All these differences/ led British writer George Bernard Shaw/ to joke/ that Britain and America/ are two countries/ separated by the same language.
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