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Mary Lynne Murphy
University of Sussex (Brighton BN1 9QN England)
The Prodigal Tongue: The Love-Hate Relationship Between American and British English

A historical exploration of changes in the English language over 300 years, focusing on differences between American and British national dialects, why they differ, and how the differences are perceived.

This project supports M. Lynne Murphy in writing How America Saved the English Language. Since 2006, Murphy has used her linguistic expertise to engage the public in exploring American and British English through the blog Separated by a Common Language, social media, public talks and media work. While the tongue-in-cheek title serves to draw readers in, the book provides a rigorously researched and reader-friendly examination of why national dialects differ as they do, why they don’t differ more, how they are changing with and despite each other’s influence, and how these issues are often misrepresented due to a range of social-cognitive biases and mistaken beliefs. It incorporates a range of original archival, corpus, and analytical research as well as the synthesis of existing work on the history and status of English. It is aimed to help English users examine biases in treatment of the two dialects (in teaching, editing, media) and appreciate the richness of their language.

[Grant products][Media coverage]

Project fields:
American Studies; English; Linguistics

Public Scholars

Research Programs

$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
1/1/2016 – 12/31/2016