Standard English (SE) is the variety of English language that is used as the national norm in an English-speaking country, especially as the language for public and formal usage. In England and Wales, the term Standard English is associated with British English, the Received Pronunciation accent, and the United Kingdom Standard English (UKSE) grammar and vocabulary. In Scotland, the standard language is Scottish Standard English; in the United States, the General American variety is the standard language spoken and written in that country; and in Australia the national, standard language is General Australian English.
Although Standard English is generally the most formal version of the language, a range of registers exists within Standard English, as is often seen when comparing a newspaper article with an academic paper, for example. A distinction also should be drawn between spoken and written standards. Spoken standards are traditionally looser than their written counterparts, and quicker to accept new grammatical forms and vocabulary. The various geographical varieties form a generally accepted set of rules, often those established by grammarians of the 18th century.
English originated in England during the Anglo-Saxon period, and is now spoken as a first or second language in many countries of the world, many of which have developed one or more "national standards". English is the first language of the majority of the population in a number of countries, including the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, the Bahamas and Barbados and is an official language in many others, including; India, Pakistan, the Philippines, South Africa and Nigeria.
As the result of historical migrations of English-speaking populations and colonization, and the predominant use of English as the international language of trade and commerce (lingua franca), English has also become the most widely used second language. In countries where English is neither a native language nor widely spoken, a non-native variant (typically English English or North American English) might be considered "standard" for teaching purposes.
Although the Standard Englishes of the various Anglophone countries are very similar, nonetheless, often minor grammatical differences occur between them. In American and Australian English, for example, "sunk" and "shrunk" as past tense forms of "sink" and "shrink" are beginning to become acceptable as standard forms, whereas standard British English still insists on "sank" and "shrank". In South African English, the deletion of verbal complements is becoming common. This phenomenon sees the objects of transitive verbs being omitted: "Did you get?", "You can put in the box". This kind of construction is not standard in most other forms of standard English.
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With rare exceptions, Standard Englishes use either American or British spelling systems, or a mixture of the two (such as in Australian English, Canadian English, and Indian English spelling). British spellings usually dominate in Commonwealth countries.
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