"The differences between British and American English involve not just spelling but also style, grammar, punctuation, typography and vocabulary as well as cultural" - Josephine Bacon
How true is that! Because of Word and Spellcheck we Brits needs to make sure that all our text has the correct spelling i.e. colour instead of color, behaviour instead of behavior throughout our documents.
Dialogue is noticeable because of the influx of American films (movies) - during the Second World War subtitles had to be used as we had never heard an American accent before and couldn't understand it.
Differences aren't confined to dialogue, and the most noticeable is the date - whereas we write dd/mm/yyyy the Americans write mm/dd/yyyy and no 'th' after the number. Full stops, as in 2.12.97 might not even be recognised as a date. Confusion can also arise as 1/12 in England is 1st December but in America it is 12 January!
Vocabulary-wise there are words used on both sides of the Atlantic that have different meanings, for example the pavement in England is the sidewalk in America. The pavement in America means the roadway or blacktop and there are many more: fieldstone (crazy paving); diaper (nappy); shade (blind); shades (sunglasses); dust ruffle (valance); valance (pelmet); faucet (tap) are just a few. The major differences occur in areas where the two cultures have diverged such as law, construction, architecture, banking and finance where for example a private ledger in the States is bought ledger in England.
Style and punctuation - such as can't, don't, etc - in England these abbreviations aren't used in advertising but Americans consider them too formal. Commas are more lavishly used in America as is the use of the single 'l' whereas we would use a double, i.e. dialled/dialed; travelled/traveled.
There are also regional variations in speech, however many Americans are amazed at our regional differences over what, for them, are such short distances.
eBooks have been rapidly expanding in acceptance during the past few years, especially amongst students. Publication has seen stable growth since 2005 due to a variety of reasons, not least being space and financial resources of libraries. Because of the lower overheads publishers are able to provide them at more attractive prices as, digitally, they are easier to sell and distribute.Despite the fact that paper books still have a place within society, electronic journals have captured substantial and widespread popularity amongst academic scholars.
There are three types of ebooks: the first are web books which can easily be accessed via the internet. The second are palm books which are more portable and internet connection is not required. The third type are produced with electronic ink to display content that uses lucent technologies.
The major advantage though is the method of publication. Electronic books can be created by anyone and have the potential to spread worldwide. As a result they can be accessed from any location virtually without the damage that this can cause to a printed copy. Online catalogues are used now by most libraries and reader can store thousands of books in a tiny space, accesible via the cloud at any point in time.
ebook proponants also cite the disadvantages of paper copies; these are mainly space, weight and cost.
However on the side of the printed copy; the method of printing books on paper has a long history behind it. Printed communication has been found in many mediums, from cave paintings, through clay tablets and wooden blocks and through Gutenberg's press to moveable type. There are several unique advantages that the traditional printed publications offer.
Books don't suffer from light/glare issues and eye strain that continually staring at a screen can bring. Books come in all shapes and sizes, with photos, illustrations, silky pages and textured papers that appeal to many readers. Books are ready the moment that you pick them up and you can work easily with many books at once. They can be shared, resold and can be perused freely in stores before purchase. They can withstand quite a lot of usage and some last for centuries. No batteries required.
Certain qualities of print will not be matched by electronic devices within the foreseeable future and the virtual aspects of electronic information are sometimes difficult for readers to comprehend than the structure of a paperbound book.
For my part I find that for going on holiday and not having to carry a suitcase load of books is extremely useful, however I still love the feeling of a 'proper' book and bedtime reading wouldn't be the same without them.
The first alphabet came about 3700 years ago via the West Semitic people of the Sinai. They had become workers or slaves under the Egyptians and saw the hieroglyphs that were being used. Only the consonants in the hieroglyphs were recorded, no vowels, thus the Sinaitic script adopted the same format. The Egyptians used multi-consonant signs but Sinaitic used only single consonant letters.
The South Arabian family evolved at around 1300BC eventually becoming a highly elegant script by the 5th century BC. As Islam increased in popularity the script diffused across the Red Sea into Ethiopia and this is still used today.
The Phoenician alphabet evolved into a more linear form by the 12th century BC and most of the alphabets that are used today descend from this. The immediate offsprings were the old Hebrew alphabet and Archaic Greek. Aramaic became very popular and became an international language spoken from Anatolia all the way to the Persian Gulf. In Israel it became the Jewish alphabet.
Then, of course, we have the Greek and Latin scripts. No archeological remains have been discovered of the early Greek - examples only date from the 8th century BC but many scholars believe that it was adopted from the Phoenician between 1200 - 900 BC. The Euboean variant was transmitted to the Etruscans and so on to Latin.
Futhark and Ogham are both systems that were used in Northern Europe before being replaced by the Latin alphabet - the origins of these are still under debate.
Since Cave 1 was discovered in 1947 by a Bedouin shepherd looking for his goat the preservation of these scrolls is still ongoing. More than 800 documents were found in 11 caves, copper and papyrus were used as well as the predominant parchment and were written in Aramaic, as well as Hasmonaean, Archaic, and Herodian Hebrew scripts. There were some Phoenician, late Qumranic and Moabite influences too.
Parchment was made using animal skins which meant that a variety of skills, tools and materials would have been needed. Sheep, goats, cows or deer skins were washed and then tanned or treated with alum and powdered chalk, then beaten until soft.
The production of papyrus involved reed, pumice stones and paste. The strips were cross-layered at right angles, beaten and pressed together, the dried sheets were then polished with the pumice and cut to a standard size.
It was a huge amount of work and the treatment process required hammers, mallets, measuring tools, pointed instruments, pens, ink, needles and thread. The material was then cut into strips and sewn together to form a scroll with a handle sheet attached to one end.
Now it was ready for the scribe who would mark the edges of the columns by scoring margins and lines would then be ruled. The size and availability of a parchment dictated the number of columns to a sheet, lines to a column and size of margin.
Inscription was done using a carbon-based dye ink. The standard and style of writing varied considerably. Some scrolls have been amended by a different scribe and the Community Rule scrolls found in Cave 1 were actually written by 2 different people.
Where all this activity took place no-one is sure. It was thought at first that the whole process took place at Qumran but the community there was very small and the writing styles varied greatly. It has been discovered that some of the 1st century scripts actually came from the Jerusalem area and the time line has been determined, as being between 5th century BCE and 2nd century CE.
In order to date the writing styles the palaeographers looked at the appearances of letters; size or stance, base strokes length, roundness or angularity; leg lengths, line faithfulness; ligatures and ornamental ticks. Frank Cross has developed a typology of the Hebrew scripts but even so dating is not exact.
Spelling - the study of which is called orthography - in the scrolls was also an issue as Hebrew does not have proper vowel letters, and, as stated before, varying styles were used. There was no such thing as a dictionary with an official spelling or pronunciation.
The scrolls are still being translated and studied and, as a feat of production, that in itself is amazing. 800 documents over 500-600 years is a fantastic collection and is attributed to the Essenes - but again, that is under debate. The variation in language, style and content is huge and the question of the origin of the scrolls, once confined to the history of the settlement itself - which was only 150 years - now sets a much broader agenda.