1. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Us vs uk spellings

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by Tenderiser, Sep 10, 2015.

    My novel is set in England but I'm wondering if I should change UK words and spellings to US before submitting to US agents or publishers. Will they expect it? I'm talking about flat vs apartment, realised vs realized and so on.

    I'm not ready for submission yet but it's something I need to think about. I don't want to give them any excuse to reject me off the bat!
     
  2. outsider
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    outsider Contributing Member Contributor

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    There's already some threads on here regarding this. I'll post a link if I remember later as I'm on my phone just now.
    I'm of the opinion that you should use the spelling you're accustomed to especially when your story is based in the U.K.
    If and when you are ready for publishing in the U.S. your publisher will address these issues.
    In short, use U.K. English.
     
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  3. Lewdog
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    Lewdog Come ova here and give me kisses! Supporter Contributor

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    I find humor, humour in this. does the UK pretty much change all US words that end in "or" to "our?"
     
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  4. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Thanks Outsider. I assumed each publisher would have their own guidelines about this, I just don't know how to submit the manuscript. I suppose if they don't mention it in submission guidelines, they won't reject me because of it.

    @Lewdog off the top of my head I can think of humour, favour and colour. There may be more!
     
  5. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    Quite the reverse.
     
  6. Cave Troll
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    Cave Troll Bite the bullet, do your own thing. Contributor

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    It should not be an issue, seeing as it still means the same thing. Just don't submit it to the clown I had for a teacher in Humanities. Really did not like the English spelling vs. American, which was odd as they taught us how the language freaking evolved. :p
     
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  7. matwoolf
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    matwoolf Contributing Member Contributor

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    Howdi sub-editor,

    Like you to peruse my manuscript, brother. I am kicking back here in the Home Counties of little 'ole England, thought you'd like my shit, written Yankee style.


    As Winston Churchill said 'No surrender to the IRA.' I was thinking quite the same thing, my Ira, my long-suffering life partner, she liked to cheat on me with dice. She tumbled those cubes of ivory, black and white colored dice, passed me the shaker. We were sitting in our lounge apartment, two blocks from Buckingham Castle. The programs on the TV were kind of irritating, so I left Ira, my glass of whiskey on the sideboard and I stepped over to the refrigerator. My refrigerator, you know, a typical US refrigerator, the size of a truck. A truck in my kitchen, in my apartment the size of Texas. Of course when I saw the contents of my refrigerator I said:

    'Honey, you motherfucker, I don't wanna play dice no more. I wanna eat steak.'

    I dragged the steak from the refrigerator, but I tripped, the steak landed on me. I was suffocating under a steak the size of a carpet. I had to fight the steak. I bit, chewed until the steak was a more manageable proportion. Then I fried the steak on my griddle, whatever the fuck that is.
     
  8. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I see this as two, perhaps three, different issues, though I don't actually have an answer on any of them:

    - I think that spelling and punctuation will almost certainly be changed to the US style if you're published in the US. But I don't know if that's something that an agent would expect you to do, or expect to do themselves, and if your failure to do it in advance would be a deal breaker, or if they'd just tell you to do it and evaluate your manuscript anyway.

    - Word choice is trickier. If your POV character is English, it seems to me that flats should be flats.

    - But should jumpers be jumpers? There are British words that Americans usually understand and can look up if they don't--flats, lorries, etc. And then there are British words that have a quite different meaning to Americans, like jumpers. (Unless I'm mistaken, a British jumper is an American sweater and an American jumper is a sort of overdress. So a big burly man wearing a jumper will produce giggles from Americans.) Is the solution to make jumpers into sweaters, or to find a common word for them (would pullover work?), or just have the character put on a jacket instead?
     
  9. outsider
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    outsider Contributing Member Contributor

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    Chortle
     
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  10. AlcoholicWolf
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    AlcoholicWolf Contributing Member

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    If the characters are British, I'd definitely have them speak like the British. Not many English people say "mom"...
     
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  11. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Thanks everyone.

    I've tried to avoid English-isms where possible. But whereas pullover would work for both audiences, you get "pants" which means trousers to US readers and underwear to UK. So what do I do when someone is wearing trousers?! Maybe I'll just make everybody wear jeans. :p
     
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  12. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Trousers are fine for the US, so you're OK there. In an American character's dialogue the word may feel formal, but if you're using a British voice anyway, you're fine. Americans know, unambiguously, what it means.
     
  13. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Oh, that's good to know. I was worried it would sound very English and stuffy, but a young and modern person wearing trousers wouldn't conjure up that kind of image?
     
  14. AlcoholicWolf
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    AlcoholicWolf Contributing Member

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    How about calling them "bottoms"

    Honestly, though, wouldn't a publisher just make this decision in the editing stage? It seems strange they'd reject the manuscript on the grounds of nomenclature.
     
  15. outsider
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    outsider Contributing Member Contributor

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    Tenderiser likes this.
  16. matwoolf
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    matwoolf Contributing Member Contributor

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    Ew my gawd,

    Jumper is the vernacular of my great middle class, sweater is apparently some kind of working class garment. Jerseys are worn by the laird on his country estates. Everybody knows this rule in my England, and in our Scotland.

    Sub-editors won't translate your work, what...because an Ameri...I'm sorry my arm lacks strength. Maybe they might? Tell them to 'buzz off,' leave the manuscript in the drawer.
     
  17. AlcoholicWolf
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    AlcoholicWolf Contributing Member

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    I didn't know US English needed translating into UK English. I thought you just changed the odd word to suit your audience.
     
  18. matwoolf
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    matwoolf Contributing Member Contributor

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    This is a popular writing herring.
     
  19. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I don't really hear that in the UK. Jogging bottoms or pyjama bottoms, but never just bottoms.

    That last bit is what I was worrying about, but it looks like it will be okay to submit it in UK English then sort it out afterwards if necessary. :)
     
  20. OurJud
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    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

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    Others have already said the same, but my thought on this is that you use the language native to the setting. That means you open the bonnet of your car, not the hood, and leave it in a car park, not a parking lot, etc, etc, etc.

    It would be totally wrong, in my opinion, to swap UK terms for US ones, just because you're submitting to a US market. It's not where you're selling that determines your terminology, it's the story's setting.

    Of course there are times when you would make an exception, such as if one of your characters was American, so for that reason I would amend the final sentence in the previous paragraph to say, it's not where you're selling that determines your terminology, it's the story's setting and/or characters' nationalities.

    I like some US terms - even prefer them over ours - and luckily I get the best of both worlds in my novel as it's set both in the future (possibilties for language to have changed/evolved/merged) and in an undefined country.
     
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  21. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Thank you very much for finding that for me. The consensus there seems to be to pick one market and write for it, but that seems a little extreme to me - to discount selling your work in an entire country full of readers because they have a different understanding of jumper etc.

    I think I'll use UK English but avoid any terms that aren't commonly understood over the pond.
     
  22. outsider
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    outsider Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't believe in writing for 'markets', I just write.
    Get the story down, leave the bullshit to those that are paid for such pedantry.
     
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  23. AlcoholicWolf
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    AlcoholicWolf Contributing Member

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    Having said that I have read many books set in England and felt alienated (because I learned British English) when they use American terms in the narrative.

    You fill your car up with petrol. It's a liquid, why do Americans call it gas?
     
  24. outsider
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    outsider Contributing Member Contributor

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    Gasoline.
     
  25. AlcoholicWolf
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    AlcoholicWolf Contributing Member

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    Well that's one way to kill a joke!
     

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