English is unique among languages in that not only is it the lingua Franca of global trade and government, but it lends itself particularly well to dialects with unique, idiomatic phrases, resulting in different versions of English from all over the globe. Just within England, there are idioms distinct to regions or even specific cities. In the United States and Canada, the region determines if a generic carbonated beverage is a "soda," "pop" or "coke." Some areas of the world, usually former colonies, preserve versions of English closer to the version spoken in England at the time England colonized the region. Jamaican English, for example, hews fairly closely to Elizabethan pronunciation, though, of course, it diverged from that dialect centuries ago.
Britain, as a whole, has adapted English to both national needs and regional needs. It has taken the language of Shakespeare and added to it a lexicon of idioms far larger than the ones it inherited, creating a vast landscape of linguistic variation unusual to the British Isles. Americans often believe that speaking English is enough to understand Britons. Still, such a superficial reading of language leads only to confusion when Americans need to go about movements of daily life in the UK. How well do you know classic British phrases? Test your knowledge with this quiz!