RS: Learning From Editing pt3 – UK English vs US English

‘When An Arse Should Be An Ass…’

I could go on for days about this. Days! But I don’t have that kind of time. As my mini series on editing continues, this one is necessary only because Breathless Press is geared towards US readers.

First off; I’m British. My parents are Jamaican, but I’m the ‘least black, black person’ I know. Including my sister. Born in London, now living in the Midlands, I can’t get too much more British than that. Hell, I’ve shacked up with a Welsh guy (The Funk Master) so The Sprogs are proper Brits too. Whatever the hell that means.

Basically when I write, I write what I learned in school, which means UK spellings, grammar rules and punctuation. This hasn’t been an issue for the Meeting Each Other series. Yes, I may have confused a couple of US readers, but the conventions rules and spellings in that series are (and will continue to be) UK English.gasping/shocked/surprised face OpenClipArt

Not so with Breathless Press.

My first round of edits was to change all the little niggles from what I know, to what US readers will know.
Trousers = Pants
Mobile phone (mobile) = Cell phone (cell)
Flat = Apartment
Fringe = Bangs (I’ll never get over that one)

And then it was getting onto the spellings. *shakes head*
Colour = Color
Arse = ass (I had to change quite a few of those! – lot of arses/asses in this novella)
Favourite = Favorite

And so on. And that’s before I got anywhere near the actual content of the piece. Oh and little things like this:
Towards = Toward

I felt like this a lot. A LOT. But at the end of the day my editor is in the biz because she knows what she's doing. She knows the market. She knows the rules.

I felt like this a lot. A LOT. But at the end of the day my editor is in the biz because she knows what she’s doing. She knows the market. She knows the rules.

Basically. Every time I wanted to question something I had to ask myself this: ‘Do I really disagree with this, or is it just a knee-jerk response to being questioned at all?’ That question was often, very quickly followed by: ‘Do you know as well as she does?’ The answer was often ‘no’ (unless it was about character development, arc or plot – that’s my bit…most of the time).

What I didn’t count on, however, was the sheer number of differences. Things I never think twice about when I’m watching a movie (and when did I start saying ‘movie’ instead of ‘film’?), have suddenly become important. Check this out:

UK Eng vs US Eng info graphic



In conversation, I doubt these things would cause too much of a misunderstanding if a person were to use one word or the other, but isn’t it interesting how English as a language has evolved in such different ways?

Okay. To round up, one for the film buffs. 😉

do you write uk english? meme

Raven's Signature In Black

About Raven ShadowHawk

I take great pleasure in writing erotica and am merely one side of the proverbial coin. My other half, 'Ileandra Young' writes fantasy and the occasional comedy piece. My six-part series 'Meeting Each Other' is available in full, through Amazon and Smashwords while my debut novella 'Sugar Dust' is now re-released (!) available through Amazon via Little Vamp Press.
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3 Responses to RS: Learning From Editing pt3 – UK English vs US English

  1. sallyedmans says:

    There are a couple I disagree with in the comparison chart. I don’t think I’ve ever heard a Brit refer to a corn cob as “maize”, except in the context of Aztecs and Monster Munch. And Scotch Tape is a brand – it’s a different thing to Sellotape. I usually just use sticky tape as generic.

    And ‘pants’ instead of ‘trousers’ kills me. Every now and then you get an American use of ‘pants’ that sounds just plain wrong given the meaning of ‘pants’ in British English. Like when a Canadian friend was telling me about her bathroom mishap resulting in wet pants… which nobody else found funny.


    • The comparison chart is fun but I disagree with quite a few of them. Maize particularly. :p Additionally, these days so many ‘Americanisms’ have crept into UK English that most things you barely notice any more. I don’t anyway.

      Hehee, love that bathroom story. I bet that happens quite a bit when folk one either side of The Water are chatting.

      ‘It’s funny, right?’
      ‘Not really.’
      ‘But… pants…!’
      ‘Yeah, so?’
      *tumbleweed rolls*


  2. Pingback: RS: Learning From Editing – Intro | Writing: A Conversation Without Interruptions

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