Intended for healthcare professionals

Editor's Choice

Minding our words

BMJ 2016; 352 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.i361 (Published 21 January 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;352:i361

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

22 January 2016
Hugh Mann
Physician
Retired
New York, NY, USA