Intended for healthcare professionals

Feature Christmas 2017: Language and literacy

An Anglo-American medical lexicon

BMJ 2017; 359 doi: (Published 08 December 2017) Cite this as: BMJ 2017;359:j5567

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

11 December 2017
Hugh Mann
New York, NY, USA