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Speak American: A Survival Guide to the Language and Culture of the U.S.A. Paperback – Large Print, April 25, 2000


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Reference; 1st edition (April 25, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 037570468X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375704680
  • Product Dimensions: 4 x 0.5 x 6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.3 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #774,728 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

Imagine that you're from England, or India, or Hong Kong, and your English is impeccable. But when you travel to America, you get a funny look when you tell a colleague,"I'll knock you up tomorrow at half-eight." And you can't find bangers on a single restaurant menu.

You feel like you speak a foreign language-because you do! You need to know how to survive in American English, and this book will help you do it. This user-friendly guide focuses on the vocabulary that newcomers to the U.S. really need to know. Arranged by subject, from driving to shopping to eating, the book includes information on basic cultural and linguistic differences between British and American English, including particular pitfalls to watch for, and a handy glossary.

Each chapter begins with a quick-reference summary of key confusable words. Americanisms, grammar, and cultural points.

Offers guidance on social issues such as tipping and addressing people.

Perfect for travelers, businesspeople, and students.

About the Author

Dileri Borunda Johnston, originally from Juarez, Mexico, taught English as a Second Language in North America before moving to London, England.

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 27 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 15, 2002
Format: Paperback
I bought this book as a gift for an ESL student I am tutoring. My student had a lot of fun browsing though it.
The book is small, but packs a lot of information into its pages. And it's the perfect size for carrying around.
There's lots of detail in the information the author provides too, particularly cultural things. For example, the author goes extensively into how to order food at a restaurant and what is considered appropriate (eg sending food back if it's not to your liking). There's also lots of information about the US school system and other topics as well.
There are example phrases throughout that the English use but Americans don't. And the author even gives the reader grammar tips and explains why it doesn't sound right in American English. There's also a huge word list in the back of the book listing American/English equivalents and the American pronunciations.
I think this would also be a good book for Americans travelling to England.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By G. Shen on November 17, 2006
Format: Paperback
I got this book from our ISS (International Student Service) office and at first, I only treat it as some reading materials while I am waiting for my laundry.

However, after I really went into the book, I realized it was the book I have been long seeking for: brief, clear and ultimately helpful. Yes, it is short, but since I have no intention to be a sociologist about American society, the simple and everyday facts and words are what I need to know.

The book covers many categories of American society like food, sports, education, transportation, etc., very comprehensively. The best of all is there is a list of frequently encountered words and phrases within this category at the end of each chapter.

After reading the book, I can now fully understand what the person said when I called in to order my pancake with eggs. This is the book you can finish in two weeks while still getting to know the essentials, not an enclyclopedia that takes forever. Actually, I finished it in 1 week and I no longer stutter while I am ordering food because I just didn't know which word I should use.

My suggestion to INS: include this nice booklet in your brochure to the new immigrants.
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23 of 27 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 2, 2002
Format: Paperback
I'm a Japanese English learner. I often see past perfects and simple pasts on many text books. Sadly they are not consistantly used. But this book taught me that's because sometimes they were written by American style. There were much more things this book cleared away ambiguity for me. If you are Japanese, I strongly recommend this instructive book for your further English study. nakamimo mirerukara douzo check site mite kudasai, koukou eigo de aimaina tokoromo wakattari simasuyo.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Daniel Hedberg on November 23, 2008
Format: Paperback
This book is very entertaining and an easy read. It made me laugh several times, but also taught me a lot about the American society, even though maybe not all of it should be taken too seriously. I would recommend this book to anyone planning a trip to the U.S. It will not only give you a good time reading it before going, but also give you some useful hints on how to interact with the people of the country
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Elizabeth on August 4, 2004
Format: Paperback
Language and culture go together, and I was happy to see this book emphasize both. My students live in the United States and need to understand how Americans speak, so this book was really helpful. I also use Whaddaya Say, 2nd Edition with them so they understand how these idioms are really said.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By K. McCray on May 4, 2008
Format: Paperback
I recently purchased this book for an english resource center at a secondary school in Ukraine. While the book brings up many good points, I found misleading information when reading through it. I think perhaps part of the problem is that I was raised in a southern state, where as all know, the usage of English can be rather different from other parts of the country! Of course ouraccent is different, but the word usage and phrases are also often a bit different, and our dialects are known to be closer to British English than those of most other regions of the U.S. There at least should be a disclaimer mentioning that if they are planning on spending time in certain areas of the country, many of the "Americans don't say..." sections are not simply not correct.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Francesco Castellacci on March 20, 2006
Format: Paperback
This book is different from that I expected. I thought about a classical Idioms Dictionary. Althought it's a good book that introduce not only American idioms but American way of life too.

You can also lern idioms but are greater the advices ( Thanks to teach me to give tips!!!!!)
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By new in USA on September 27, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book gets four stars because it's made for people from English speaking countries. It pionts out the differences between American English and British/ Australian English (advanced English). I like the explenations of the basic issues - how do you buy a house, where do you send you kid to school, etc. The book is pocket size and so are the chapters. It's not an America history book.
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