1. Paspalum

    Paspalum New Member

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    Using British English spelling

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Paspalum, Sep 18, 2017.

    Hi all,

    I would like to know if anyone has experience in this.

    I am "British English" and writing a self help book. However I have had a few people pointing out to me that it is jarring to read something with words such as "realise", "colour", "flavour" and "summarise" and that I should rather go with American English spelling.

    I must be honest when I read American English spelling this does not bother me, so I do not see why it would be a problem the other way around. But since there are a lot of Americans on this forum, perhaps you could give your view? And maybe the ones using British English spelling...do you still go with that or do you change to American English spelling?

    Thanks for the insights :)
     
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  2. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    I think that it's going to come down to how you're published. If I buy a book published in the UK, I'm certainly not repelled by the fact that it uses British English spelling. But if your book is published in the US, it will probably need to use American English spelling.

    But I don't really see any need to worry about it yet.

    Now, flat-out different words or phrases might be a concern--to make any future "translation", if you can call it that, easier, you may want to try to find words and phrases that are understood on both sides--or just make a note of what to check for later if you switch flavors of English.
     
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  3. JLT

    JLT Contributor Contributor

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    I agree. If you're published in the convention manner, your publisher will make that decision, not you.

    It's always a little disconcerting when I see some "hybrid" books that use British spellings and conventions (i.e., "Mr" rather than "Mr.") but American-style double quote marks for dialog. I see these coming from even the major publishing houses.
     
  4. matwoolf

    matwoolf Contributor Contributor

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    Double quotes are still [remain] all over the place - from the 1970s, I think?

    ...

    And also the general default before the 'CW Course Years.' Almost a U/Non-U issue...
     
  5. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    Canada uses British spelling but double quotes... maybe we're not the only ones?
     
  6. GrahamLewis

    GrahamLewis Let me chew on your criticism a bit. Contributor

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    Can't say it bothers me. On first reference it gets my attention, and I might look to see where the book was published, but after that I read through them with no trouble. The quotation mark thing does bother me some, till I get used to it.

    Sometimes I wish I were British, it seems somehow more elegant.
     
  7. matwoolf

    matwoolf Contributor Contributor

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    Well...maybe a greater elegance is to write with great clarity in a very simple fashion, limiting your vocabulary and such. I would like to try that soon: lay out a tale, and roll.

    Also, a game to play - on forum contests and so on, is to try write 'American,' or 'Dutch/Swedish- English' - that would be fun, 'for sure.' Canadian tho', would be impossible gibberish, an immense task x
     
  8. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man or BayView Supporter

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    They do realise that America isn't the whole world, right?

    I'm actually kind of stunned by this and can't decide if it's arrogance, ignorance, or both!

    Britain has been using double quotes for decades. Maybe 60 years ago every book published here would use single quotes, but not anymore.
     
  9. The Dapper Hooligan

    The Dapper Hooligan (V) ( ;,,;) (v) Contributor

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    When I was in school in the States, I couldn't get a paper taken seriously if I put a 'u' in the word they didn't think it belonged in. Up here in Canada, they said it didn't really matter what system I used as long as it was consistent, though Canadian spelling was a strong preference because -- shock -- I was in Canada. I've sold to a couple of places in the States and about half of them made note of it and half didn't care. Of the ones that said something, Only one asked me to change it and another asked if I would allow them to change it for me. My advice would be, if you're writing specifically for an American audience, use American spelling. If you're not, then do what you do and let them figure it out.
     
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  10. Shadowfax

    Shadowfax Contributor Contributor

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    The World Series is the annual championship series of Major League Baseball (MLB) in North America, contested since 1903 between the American League (AL) champion team and the National League (NL) champion team.

    So, a world championship between ONLY American teams.

    I remember a US complaint about the World Motor Racing championship not including Indianapolis ...despite Indy having different rules, so the winner there wouldn't be able to compete in any other qualifying event in the same car. Jim Clark put a dent in that assertion when he won the Championship in 1965 and also the Indianapolis 500 in the Lotus 38.

    This canard was finally put to rest by Nigel Ernest James Mansell, CBE (born 8 August 1953)... who won both the Formula One World Championship (1992) and the CART Indy Car World Series (1993). Mansell was the reigning F1 champion when he moved over to CART, becoming the first person to win the CART title in his debut season, and making him the only person to hold both the World Drivers' Championship and the American open-wheel National Championship simultaneously.
     
  11. JLT

    JLT Contributor Contributor

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    I didn't know that. Thanks for pointing it out. Since I've read almost all UK books in their American editions, I'd assumed that the publishers had done the conversion from single to double quotes. I learn something new every day!
     
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  12. matwoolf

    matwoolf Contributor Contributor

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    No, you didn't.
     
  13. Mckk

    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Use the English native to you and if you secure a publishing contract and it needs to be switched to American English, it will then be edited accordingly, I'm sure.

    It's always annoying though when people point out "mistakes" that are not mistakes at all. I remember when I was a teenager I used the word mortician, because I'd read it in a bestselling novel and even looked the word up, so I knew it's a real word. I'm British though and all my English friends laughed in my face saying, "No, you're wrong. It's an undertaker!" I remember feeling rather confused. Of course now I know, it's just an American-British difference.
     
  14. Radrook

    Radrook Banned Contributor

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    I grew up learning that both spellings are acceptable. In fact, I always chose the British spelling because I liked the way it looks. Seems to give the word a fuller sound with the "u" included after the "o" as in "colour" vs "color" . Then I began coming up against spell-checkers which kept telling me I was misspelling. I imagine that they are USA-programmed spell-checkers.

    So to avoid the constant hassle, I began to avoid the British spelling and try to stay with the USA one. However, I still often find myself using the British spelling occasionally before I am brought back into line with the spellcheckers. Its ridiculous, Both spellings are correct. However, I imagine that this has happened because the USA English educational departments eventually decided that USA kids had to be taught only the USA spelling.
     
  15. GrahamLewis

    GrahamLewis Let me chew on your criticism a bit. Contributor

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    Except that baseball's Toronto Bluejays are Canadian.
     
  16. The Dapper Hooligan

    The Dapper Hooligan (V) ( ;,,;) (v) Contributor

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    Don't forget about the Montreal Expos either.
     
  17. GrahamLewis

    GrahamLewis Let me chew on your criticism a bit. Contributor

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    They are no more. I believe they moved to DC and became the Washington Nationals of the National League.
     
  18. The Dapper Hooligan

    The Dapper Hooligan (V) ( ;,,;) (v) Contributor

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    They'll always live on in our hearts.
     
  19. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I've got a foot in both camps. For the first 37 years of my life, I was an American. (With a BA in English from an American university.) Then I moved to Scotland, where I have lived for the past 31 years—and I'm now a British citizen.

    Yikes.

    I'd say pick either convention, but try your best to stay consistent within it. Either convention will probably be acceptable anywhere, but a mixture probably won't.

    I write my stories laid in the USA and/or Atlantic Canada, so I try to stick with American spellings for this writing. However, I have adopted British spellings and word usages for my everyday life, so I worry that Britishisms are spilling over into my novels. 'Tis a minefield, for sure.
     
  20. OurJud

    OurJud Contributor Contributor

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    I very often set my novels in an undisclosed country, but have to admit to using American spellings. I think this is a subconscious thing, and done because I feel that a UK setting somehow cheapens things.

    I used to love British tv and films - far more than American - but for whatever reason my allegiance has changed and I now avoid British made stuff as I feel it's inferior in many ways *


    * Except Red Dwarf
     
  21. GrahamLewis

    GrahamLewis Let me chew on your criticism a bit. Contributor

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    I have to say, as an American, I don't mind the extra "u." It simply tells me it's a British or Canadian book, and I don't see any issue with it. I suppose publishers have stylebooks they must follow, but I don't think most Americans care.

    It only bothers me when I hear it in a book-on-CD while I'm driving. Then it drives me nuts.
     
  22. OurJud

    OurJud Contributor Contributor

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    How do you hear a British English spelling?
     
  23. GrahamLewis

    GrahamLewis Let me chew on your criticism a bit. Contributor

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    It was a joke, my friend. Although of course when I listen to a book by a British author read by a British reader, I start dropping "u"s into my favourite colours.
     
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  24. OurJud

    OurJud Contributor Contributor

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    Sorry. I can be unbelievably slow and naive at times.
     
  25. Wolf Daemon

    Wolf Daemon Active Member

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    I'm American although I grew up reading Warhammer 40k books and never had a problem with reading british-english. In fact now I sometimes find myself writing 'demon' as 'daemon' and 'armor' as 'armour'.
     

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