The above sentence was an actual comment left beneath one of my posts by a user called "Anonymous." Among his or her many other enlightening points, this one stuck with me the most. Just why do writers such as myself, who take great satisfaction in researching UK/US language differences, not simply refer to all forms of the language as "English"?
For answers, let us break down Anonymous's sentence piece by piece.
Firstly (or lastly in this case) he or she implies that "American terms" are not actual words. By that logic, Anonymous had better be careful not to use words like teenager, lengthy, hindsight, hangover, or belittle, because these are common examples of words that the U.S. gave to the English language.
Secondly, and he or she is not the first person to do this, Anonymous states that "British English is an American term." In fact, British English—as with American English, Canadian English, Australian English and New Zealand English—is a term widely agreed upon by noted linguists across the globe.
Each of the above terms are used in academic circles to distinguish one form of English from another. For example, if we were to compare the way Brits and Americans generally pronounce the 't' in words like city, we would be comparing one aspect of British English with the same aspect of American English. If this clarification did not exist, we would be left with a confusing comparison of English and English. In other words, it is simply for ease of distinction—and not because of a perceived "American arrogance"—that the aforementioned terms exist.
But just in case experts such as Anonymous are not convinced, I have one simple question: if the terms British English and American English are invalid, how else should we (concisely) distinguish between the two forms? After all, I imagine Anonymous would be even more aghast if speakers of American English were, in fact, said to be speaking "American."