[Python-ideas] alphabets, spelling, grammar, vocabulary, and the evolution of English

Steve Howell showell30 at yahoo.com
Wed Jun 6 05:23:38 CEST 2007

This is a linguistic reflection inspired by PEP 3131.

English is a language that has undergone a major
transformation in the last 200 to 300 years. It used
to be spoken mostly on one particular island across
the channel from France.  Now it's spoken worldwide. 
Two of the larger populations of English speakers,
residents of the UK and residents of the US, live an
ocean away from each other.

Unlike Python, English never had a PEP process.  It
naturally evolved.  But like Python, English has been
promoted, for various reasons, as a worldwide
language, mostly successfully.  English is also like
Python in the sense that it had a mostly fresh start
during certain colonizations, but it still had
backward compatibility issues.

Some observations:

   1) US and UK residents can mostly converse with
each other.

   2) American English has diverged from British
English in vocubalary, although many of the differing
words are esoteric, or are inherently culturally
incompatible, or have synonyms recognized on both
sides of the ocean, or are idiomatic expressions.

   3) American English differs from British grammar
only in pretty non-fundamental areas.  American
English, despite 200 years of evolution away from its
parent, preserves subject-verb-object ordering. 
Adjectives almost always precede nouns.  Differences
come down to subtle things like how you deal with
collective nouns, etc.

   4) Some words are spelled differently between
American English and British English, but the
spellings are generally mutually understanded by all
speakers.  (Even on the same side of the ocean,
spelling can be ambiguous in English, so variant
spellings often arise [more often, than, say,

   5) American English and British English still have
the exact same alphabet.  A to Z.

Are there analogies here to be drawn to Python?  

On AmE and BrE:


"America and England are two nations divided by a
common language."

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