1. jontyc
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    jontyc Banned

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    Quoting an American, writing for British

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by jontyc, May 14, 2010.

    Two cases, both involve quoting an American but for an English readership:

    1. Quoting what an American wrote.

    2. Quoting what an American spoke.

    Would you spell in British English or American English?
     
  2. Halcyon
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    Halcyon Contributing Member Contributor

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    A quote's a quote.

    American English, IMO, with regard to what he wrote.

    But British English for what he spoke if it's a simple matter of spelling, such as "color" or "colour".
     
  3. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Hmm.

    If I were a Thai reporter and I were quoting an American, would I write the quotes for my Thai audience in English or in Thai?
     
  4. Halcyon
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    Halcyon Contributing Member Contributor

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    A completely irrelevant (and possibly rhetorical) question.

    We're not discussing an audience who speak a different language here, merely an audience who speak a slight variation of the same language. The average person in the UK is fed a diet of American music, American TV and American movies. They would have no problem whatsoever with quotes in "American English" so it would be pointless to change it, assuming any changes were needed at all. :)
     
  5. Humour Whiffet
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    Humour Whiffet Banned

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    This is not as simple a question as it sounds. You should purchase a style manual and follow its rules.

    In brief 11.4.1 of the Oxford Style Manual says (I'm retaining the British punctuation):

    t is the policy of OUP at Oxford to anglicize at least US spelling and punctuation... US grammar and vocabulary are normally kept... [P]hraseology specific to the USA is retained in dialogue and quotations...

    Personally, I think it is probably easier to tell your readers that you are quoting using U.S. spelling and punctuation, etc. I say this because I’m guessing that, since you don’t have a style manual, you won’t know what is U.S. punctuation and phraseology, and what is not.
     
  6. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    in the first instance, it's not a matter of style, but of accuracy, since it's a quote, not original material... thus, it must be spelled exactly as it originally appeared in print...

    when quoting what was spoken and not written, however, you'd use the spelling of the place where your piece will be published...

    neither decision requires following any style manual, just using common sense...
     
  7. Humour Whiffet
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    Humour Whiffet Banned

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    Sorry maia, I always respect your views, but what is your authority for saying that it is not a matter of style? Oxford University clearly think it is. The manual goes into great detail on this. I really can't see how this can be disputed. I have given an exact quote from the manual, and Oxford is, after all, one of the world's leading universities.

    How you present it will 100% depend on your style manual of choice. I agree, the starting point is that it must be an exact quote, but there are exceptions. :)
     
  8. Humour Whiffet
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    Humour Whiffet Banned

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    To add to the above, I have now checked and confirm that the Chicago Manual of Style permits changes to spelling and punctuation when going from British English to American English. If you do so, it suggests putting a note somewhere to say you have edited quoted material for spelling and punctuation.

    It also advises as I did above. That is, that it is probably best not to change just in case you miss some British spellings by accident.

    But I do think the style manuals are vital. They’re what give you your authority for what you do.

    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Since typing the above I have done some further research. The University of Minnesota’s style manual requires exact quotations of spellings and punctuation. Again, I mention this to show that it most definitely does depend on which style manual you use.
     
  9. Steb
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    Steb New Member

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    Thanks for the responses all, especially HW for consulting the style manuals.

    BTW. I found my account above got banned as I had a previous account here I'd forgotten about.

    Anyway, I do own the local style manual (Australian) and it only says not to change the spelling on quotations. Unfortunately with spoken quotes there is no spelling to 'change'.

    I'm leaning towards keeping the American spelling for spoken by an American.

    For example, consider:

    "The only organization to record a profit was the Trump Organization," said Obama.

    versus

    "The only organisation to record a profit was the Trump Organization," said Obama.

    The second form feels incorrect to me. (My style manual did say not to change the spelling of company names btw.)

    Also consider:

    "Our supplies of aluminum are dwindling," said Obama.

    versus

    "Our supplies of aluminium are dwindling," said Obama.

    Again I like the first form. Retaining the spelling seems to keep the flavor of the quote, something similar in concept to accent.

    I checked a major newspaper here for stories quoting an American speaking and found they had NOT localized the spelling. Are newspapers generally pretty good?
     
  10. Humour Whiffet
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    Humour Whiffet Banned

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    If I were you I’d use exact quotes (including spelling and punctuation) as per your style manual. That way you can’t go wrong.

    And yes, company names and book titles would never be changed.

    Further thoughts...

    For anything spoken, my own view is that it is best to use your own style manual’s way of punctuating and spelling (but not firm names, etc. Retain the standard spelling on these). I say to use your own style guide re the spoken word for a very simple reason: just because someone has an American accent doesn’t mean they live in the U.S.

    Let’s say you were quoting the spoken word of an unknown man who spoke with an American accent. How do you know he is not a British citizen? You’ll cause yourself a major headache if you try and guess where someone is from to help you to determine how to spell and punctuate their spoken words. With spoken words, use your own manual’s style. I mean, if I quote an Australian man’s spoken words, I’m not going to buy an Australian style guide and dictionary to see how they’d write it over there!

    With text, do it exactly as written (even though some manuals permit changes). Keep it simple!
     
  11. Steb
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    Steb New Member

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    You've convinced me. I don't have the option of indicating that spelling has been retained and my readers won't necessarily be aware of American spellings, so they'll just think I've misspelled.

    Thanks again.
     

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