Intended for healthcare professionals

Feature Christmas 2014: Found in Translation

English as she is mis-spoke, misread, and miswrote—or, why you should read before you sign

BMJ 2014; 349 doi: (Published 18 December 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;349:g7344

UK vs. USA

Monolingual but unequal, and fluent but incongruent, British and Yankee accents are metrical opposites. Brits use iambic meter (short-long), while Yanks use trochaic meter (long-short). Take for example, the words "corollary" and "controversy". Brits say co-ROL-la-RY and con-TROV-er-SY, while Yanks say COR-ol-LAR-y and CON-tro-VER-sy. British iambs and Yankee trochees convey accents with both cadence and character. Brits sound cultured, while Yanks sound common, because iambs sound lambent, while trochees sound truculent. Accents are poetic, and prosody is noetic, if not prophetic.

Competing interests: No competing interests

26 December 2014
Hugh Mann
New York, USA