Americanese

Bullying and internet-bashing is a rather nasty phenomenon. Very playground and equally if not more damaging.

I’ve read a few blog posts with authors complaining about bad reviews. Six and two threes sweethearts. Not everyone will like your books. A reasoned critical review is valid, and maybe it might help. When you put yourself in print you need to acquire thick skin. Rule number one.

What is really annoying me though, are the comments and posts from British authors who are getting criticised for their faulty spelling by Americans because they have not written in Americanese. They are seriously telling British authors that their books are full of spelling errors because they are correctly, note correctly, written in English.

WHOA!!!

I mean really WHOA, right there.

Most of us Brits know that Americans can’t spell. They miss the u out of flavour and colour, the l and e out of jewellery, it’s tire instead of tyre, and curb instead of kerb. Curb is what you do when you try and rein in Americans who can’t spell.

They even substitute different words: fenders, hoods, and trunks instead of bumpers, bonnets and boots. A fender is in front of the fireplace, a hood is attached to your jacket and goes over your head, and a trunk is what you get sent to boarding school or university.

But they don’t realise. Or realize.

Here, from one of my many dictionaries, in this case an ancient one of my mother’s, is a list of comparative spellings.

Groups of words
Groups of words
Single words
Single words

Now, if I was going to have a serious go at Americanese, it would have to be at the use of the word of. It actually drives me up the wall. Or rather off of the wall?

So, Americans look out the window and walk out the door. This is a big grammar fail in the UK. You look out OF the window and walk out OF the door.

And when you want to jump off something or ask Edward to take his hands off Bella, there is no ‘of’.

It’s not ‘take your hands off of me’. Or jump off of the wardrobe or whatever. Truth is, in English, that use of the word of is a sign of a very poor education.

A purse in English is not a handbag. I struggle when I read about American women putting their purses here, there, and everywhere. A purse contains money. Simple as that. It may well go in your handbag. Maybe American women don’t have a purse. Or do they put their purse in their purse?

It all makes me quite pissed off. No, not pissed. Pissed in English, is when you are rat-arsed and may well have put your purse down when you shouldn’t have done and then forgotten where it is.

So, to all American reviewers and writers out there, we accept the rather appalling mess you have made of our Anglo-Saxon language and we don’t complain, so could you possibly refrain from telling British authors they don’t know how to spell? Although I’d be interested to see any reviews where Brits complain that an American author has a lot of spelling errors… And that means a genuine comment not a sarcastic one.

British authors should not have to either explain or justify their spelling. Neither should Australians, Canadians, Indians, or anyone else who speaks, reads, and writes English.

Thanks awfully.

……….

Reading an Americanese book yesterday, I got to the end and was intrigued by an offer from the author. It’s the first time I’ve seen something like this, and she had a brief section called ‘About editing’.

In this, she moaned about the fact that traditional publishing companies would put a book through four or five editors whereas indie authors could only realistically have one or two.

She added that people probably noticed indie books had more typos – I would say some not all, and trad books have them too – and she appreciated that it detracted from the enjoyment of the story, which is true.

So, to get to the punchline, she was offering Five! Whole! Cents! for every typo spotted in her book. The caveat being of course, that she had to agree it was a typo, so no, all you Brits, you can’t eke your revenge and get rich by picking on her American spelling.

I’d noticed some when I was reading through. The usual combination of punctuation, eg a glaring missing full point, some spelling (in any version of English) and missing words, wrong word order. Amazingly I do not read a book with pencil and paper to hand to note down all typos, unless I am being paid to edit. And when I get to the end I am certainly not going to go through it all again for a few hours to earn the princely sum of less than one US dollar. Or, in real money, sixty pence.

In fairness it wasn’t badly edited, just not perfect or near perfect.

So, being a helpful roughseas, I sent a nice email explaining why I wasn’t going to be taking up her generous offer, and suggesting instead that if she wanted the remaining errors cleaned up she should go back to her editor/proofreader and tell them they hadn’t done a good enough job.

Of course, if she had only contracted for the industry standard of two or three reads, and she’d signed it off, then her editor/proofreader would probably suggest a) she take a walk b) charge more than five cents per error or c) suck it if they were desperate for repeat work from her.

I am sure there will be readers out there who will take her up on her offer. No doubt if they find even one of the errors, they will be excited and proud, and contemplate a lucrative career as an editor. At five cents to read a whole book? Three pence in real money.

She’s not replied.

And while I thought it was mildly amusing and an interesting gimmick, I don’t think it is doing a lot for raising the standards of self-publishing.

When I edit for someone, I expect them to read the final version thoroughly, not just scan it because they know the story inside out. I do too by this stage. I then want it back for me to double check in case they have done anything silly on their reading. But the author’s last read through is their chance to say if they aren’t happy about anything or point out if I have missed any errors.

Asking readers to proofread a published book is ridiculous. It is unprofessional. And it is insulting to ask someone to take the time to re-read a book, find and note the errors, write and send an email for a few cents or pence. If readers are so interested, they would probably do it anyway, ‘Look, look, I spotted an error, eagle-eyed me!’ But don’t give up your daytime job.

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239 comments on “Americanese

    • Thanks for the comment aBoC.

      The whole pants issue leaves me befuddled. I never know whether they are referring to trousers or knickers. They have these twee panties for women instead of perfectly acceptable knickers. But there again why do we call underpants that? Short for pantaloons?

      I thought I’d keep the list short – give others the chance to come up with pet peeves…

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  1. Why did the Americans have to change the English language anyway? It worked, and is still working, perfectly well for us. It’s a bit cheeky of them to mess around with it and then complain about it. :D

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    • I read somewhere that the pronunciation and the spelling were different so it made life complicated for them. I guess it’s like lootenant where there is no F in it. Surprised they don’t spell it like that actually. Or the opposite is Ralph Vaughan Williams where the l isn’t sounded. There are some classics in English. Cholmondeley is another one, I suppose Americans would spell it Chumly.

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        • I don’t know about any of those :D I’m no expert in American linguistics so I have no idea how they even pronounce flavor and color. In English if you were going to miss any letter out it would more likely be the o. So you would get colur. Or maybe it should be culler like fuller. The point about putting the o and the u together is that it actually gives a different sound to either vowel on its own. Or and ur are very distinctive as word endings. Our is a subtle mix, although not pronounced like ‘our’ of course, eg hour.

          Good fun eh? Americanese is rather like a straggly dialect.

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        • Pants/Trousers. Trousers is all encompassing (including breeches etc.) Pants is the shortening of pantaloons, from the French pantalon which also means trousers (the most popular type of trouser in the 19th century which was America’s rise). In this case the words started meaning the same thing but moved in different directions over time.

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    • Sometimes, it is the English changing the language. We used “Fall” until some Frenchifiers- almost as much a faux pas (oops) as Americanising, at one time- called it Autumn.

      In Autumn, leaves fall from trees.
      They ought not to, Autumn?

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        • When I heard that the Academie Francaise objected to Franglais, I was flattered. English cultural hegemony is making itself felt, and they are nervous. Which is only fair after English became full of conquerors’ French. “Sidewalk” is a better word, as all of the road, not just the pedestrian bit, is paved. Spelling- I prefer ae to e as in aesthete, but no-one writes oeconomics now, and if it had been thought of as British with economics American, perhaps we would. And after we watched all those Westerns in the fifties, and started writing “Jail”- have we really lost anything?

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          • Are you still retreating or are you back with us?

            I like Franglais and Spanglish. After all, what more than anything, is llanito in Gibraltar with an Andalucían Spanish base but lots of other words dropped into it?

            Well the road is usually mud (no pavement) cement (pavement alternative) or ashphalt (again alternative) or cobbles. But the pavement is usually made of paving stones so I think that is logical.

            I like oe and ae depending on the words, particularly the medical ones.

            I use gaol probably to be cantankerous. I think 50s films certainly had a lot of influence, and Fiona made the point about the impact of television in South Africa too.

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          • Llanito is an interesting one, I wonder if it has any Arabic as it has Maltese words. It also has Hebrew words in from the Sephardi Jews, and we have an old established Jewish community here following the expulsion from Spain and Portugal.

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    • Thanks, and if you enjoyed it, that’s good. But the serious point is that we all need to show tolerance in all areas of our life, and make ourselves more aware of the differences in our worlds without criticising them.

      Increasingly all English speaking counties use more and more Americanisms, eg in the photo of the old dictionary, it mentions æ as an English form of spelling but even I use medieval instead of mediaeval – and I have a degree in history and archaeology!

      A little thought goes a long way. We should be careful before criticising others. I’m not critiquing American spelling, rather Americans who criticise non-Americans for not spelling ‘their’ way. Dangerous road to go down, laden with bigger implications.

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  2. In terms of US ethnicity less than 10% of Americans claim English ancestry. By far the largest group is German at about 15% so overall I am rather impressed that they speak English as well as they do! I read a book once about language and was surprised to learn that South American Spanish (in general) is quite different to Spanish Spanish. Briefly back to Americanese the one that surprises me is that they have no idea what a queue is and insist on calling it a line – a line is where I hang my washing!

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    • I think identifying with a nationality isn’t the same as accurate ancestry. Eg, my partner is Welsh, born in England and with Cornish and Yorkshire grandparents. One of my distant rellies was from Lancashire, but I always say I’m from Yorkshire.

      But regarding America, the official language is English, and 80% of households speak English as the sole language.

      I knew about SA Spanish partly because a lot of it is like Andalucian Spanish. Well, most of them did ship over there from Cadiz so hardly surprising.

      The line. Whacky eh? But they don’t have car parks either. Where else do you park your car except in a car park? A lot? A lot of cars? :D

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      • But regarding America, the official language is English, and 80% of households speak English as the sole language.

        Just a bit of trivial knowledge, but America doesn’t have an official language. When people settled here they were from all sorts of different places and largely kept their native tongues at first.

        The reason this is of such interest is because it always pisses me off (that is, I get rat-arsed) when Americans assume that Hispanics should learn to speak English if they’re going to come here.

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        • Sorry Ruth, I should have said ‘national’ language, and that’s only acc to wiki, but it serves to argue with Andrew ;)

          Um, I thought it was impossible to get into America? Anyway, if we didn’t learn Spanish, we would have a poorer quality of life in both Gib and Spain. I don’t see anything wrong with learning the language of the country you move to. Equally so, I don’t expect all Spaniards or Gibbos to speak English.

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          • Yes. Rather than North America, as Ruth was referring to the USA. There was a trend at one point among my friends of referring to the USA as The States, which I never used. I’ll use USA when I’m being formal but will slip into America. After all, neither Canada nor Latin American countries have America as part of their name.

            Anyway, I figured Canada was bi, I did grow up in the Trudeau years. It’s a complex and emotive issue. Look at South Africa with eleven languages, and as Fiona says further down, looking to add a twelfth. The bureaucratic cost of that has me cringing.

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      • Reminded me of a visit to Disney World. We parked the car in a section of parking lot named after the 7 dwarves except there were only 6. The joke was that the missing one was Doc because that is where you moor a boat!

        I always thing restroom for bathroom or wc/public comvenience is amusing as well!

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    • The differences in Spanish are mostly of the informal variety- like comparing how they speak in Bristol to how they speak in Scotland. Written Spanish is strictly controlled and adheres to the (arbitrary) rules of the Royal Academy.
      The differences you’d notice in a book published in SA versus a book published in Spain are actually quite small. They do have words that were adapted from the native populations- and some differences are circumstantial as in the word for car. In Spain we say coche (from carriage, closed with 4 wheels), in much of SA they say carro which was an open carriage with two wheels.

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      • My problem is I’d notice very little difference because of the Andaluz influence. Sure there are different words, but the sense gives the meaning anyway. My neighbours slip into Portuguese sometimes, onde instead of donde, buenos dias often sounds like bom dia etc.

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        • Exactly, that’s what I meant by informal vs. formal.
          In Argentina they say vos instead of usted, but I still haven’t met a Spaniard sufficiently uneducated to find that confusing; Or an Argentinian who didn’t know what usted means for that matter.
          A formal linguistic difference is, for example, that English unlike French doesn’t do masculine and feminine articles for inanimate objects.
          Sentence construction is the same. The fact that in Andalucia they don’t like to use the past perfect is an informal, even stylistic, difference. It’s just that here things are part of a process with no clear beginning, middle, or exact date the work will finally be finished :)
          In any event I’m curious to see what these extraordinary grammatical differences could possibly be because they’ve certainly never made it into a book by García Márquez or Ocatvio Paz. The biggest dispute I can think of is Mexico would like its name written with an X instead of a J but the Royal Academy keeps telling them no just to be annoying.

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      • Actually the differences between ” Spanish ” Spanish and Latin American Spanish are anything but informal. I am German ( but have not lived there for 40 years ) and my first exposure to Spanish was in Germany in university to what everybody thought was the ” real ” Spanish . The same was true with English; we learned ” correct ” ( meaning British English) in school. Latin American Spanish is different. In the 20 years I have now lived in Latin America I had to study a whole new set of grammar, which is not only accepted, but also officially taught at university. I now switch back and forth, depending on where I am. I think grammar and it’s usage are the main factor in some of the differences between what once was one language . You can check it out in English, German, French ( the French spoken in Montreal is grammatically different from the French spoken in Paris).It is very normal for a language to develop differently, once people leave their mother land. And btw. There is no fast rule about the usage of ” carro “. We say coche, carro, automobile depending on personal preference…..carro is assumed to be because the US is relatively near and they say ” car “.

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        • Thanks droelma for your comment. I’ll let Pink discuss the finer point should he choose as he’s far more au fait with Spanish and Latin-American Spanish and French than I am. I only dare argue with him about English ;)

          Have to say, I learned a lot of my Spanish from Latin American soaps eg Gata Salvaje.

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          • Did you know that most of the Latin American soaps are actually produced in Miami. I was very surprised to find out from a friend who works in the ” Tele Novela ” industry here in Mexico City that almost all other countries in the Spanish speaking world ( with the exception of Spain ) go to Miami to film their novelas. I on the other hand pay for Spanish TV via cable and watch novelas from Spain ( Lobos, El Tiempo entre Costuras right now ) to stay in touch with Spanish Spanish….:o).

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        • Having lived in both Latin America and Spain, I strongly disagree. There’s no book which I’ve ever found unintelligible from either side. Just the odd word one has never heard before. Perhaps as it’s not your first language, associations of meanings are more complex for you. I’d be curious to know exactly what this ‘new grammar’ might be. Do nouns become adverbs? Or are subjects and predicates flipped around?has always been used in Portugal and Brazil), but remains a non-entity in Spain. I think you’re missing the point. I was explaining how a practical cultural difference influences the use of the word.

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  3. I’ve always found the spelling issue fascinating. Did you know Old English spelling was gallicized because after the Norman conquest most scribes were French? That’s how we go from Civitas to Cité to City. That’s when we get the introduction of the ‘que’ into English words.
    Standard English moved from the west country to London as Edward the Confessor centralized his court and it then becomes the place where all government documents are written/transcribed.

    Then we get the 1500’s which is really extraordinary for spelling. The Protestants want to make language and religion more accessible to the general population, so they start a movement to simplify the language- this culminates in the publishing of the King James bible. It becomes the major reference for spelling during that time.

    Extra useless information you might find amusing. The Anglo-Saxon word for cook was cok (the pronunciation is nearly the same, slightly shorter o). It only existed in the masculine form, meaning cooking was an exclusively male activity. Baking on the other hand was exclusively female. Goes to show how gender roles are a complete cultural fabrication.

    But going back to spelling, people in general need to read more about the history of languages. When we do we get a very deep sense of the machinery behind them. That’s also the case when people learn more languages. An interesting example is the pronunciation of Herb in English. The original form was with a silent H, the same as in French. That’s the reason Americans in New England still pronounce it that way. In 19th century Britain there’s a movement to extirpate any relation to French from the English language and so it becomes fashionable to pronounce the H.
    That’s taken on a life of its own, because many young people in the UK today no longer know H as aitch, they pronounce it haitch :)

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    • Yup, I find it interesting too. I do vaguely remember the shifts in language from schooldays, my university history was more interested in wars and religion.

      People were saying haitch years ago. Not at my school, I add quickly. Have to say I was taught to pronounce an aitch, eg a hotel (which is one of the classics) rather than an hotel. An hotel was acceptable but amongst socially upward aspirants a hotel sounded less like dropping an aitch.

      An herb really grates. I couldn’t say that in a million years. Which reminds me, how are your ‘erbs growing? Did you ever plant any? My basil has self seeded beautifully, culinary rather than the Spanish tiny one, and my new romero and oregano are fine too. Plus thyme, chives and perejil. Just sown some cilantro which seems to have germinated ok. Good time to sow seeds now :)

      Thanks for the erudite comment. Language development is fascinating I agree.

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  4. Thanks, roughseainthemed, for making me think a bit more about the editing process of my own (Canadian English) writing. I wonder if the differences between British and American spelling came about as a result of the printing process, dropping off letters here and there to save space (and expense) on the page, or using a more narrow “i” instead of “y” in tire/tyre. Canadians appear to have cherry-picked when it comes to what we’ve retained from the original British and what we’ve chosen to adopt from the US. It all becomes quite confusing, but I believe that most Canadian-trained editors tend to be fluent in at least these three variations of written English. Australian and Indian are another matter altogether.

    I also wonder if the current complaints from American readers about British spelling is due to authors now publishing only the original version of their book for the entire world. In olden days, when traditional publishers ruled the business of books, they usually published separate editions for each of the countries in which books were being sold. American readers were accustomed to reading an Americanized version of a British book and they wouldn’t have been subjected to what they now consider to be spelling mistakes. When I was a sales rep for publishers in Canada, there were many British books we were able to sell in their original editions that had to be re-edited and even repackaged for the American market. The Harry Potter series, for one. This still happens today. A Canadian friend self-published a gardening book that was suitable for the North American market, but she could not land a US distribution deal until the book was completely re-edited into Americanese. Fortunately for the author, she was able to contract with the same Canadian editor who had edited the original edition.

    (By the way, I did check, and “realize” is the correct Canadian spelling. Just another example of where we’ve moved away from the Commonwealth and become a little more Americanized. Plus, we do call them “pants” and “sweaters” rather than “trousers” and “jumpers” – but we at least know what it is that you British are wearing!)

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    • Thanks Susan, the Canadian perspective is fascinating as you are such a hybrid. One Canadian friend always tells me she spells mom but pronounces it mum. She’s mentioned grey/gray too, although I can’t remember her preference.

      I think the typographical reference to spacing is a valid suggestion although I have no idea if that was the reason. Equally for tire/tyre, you could say they both sound the same so why not spell them the same. Same as curb and kerb, although you could argue for a very slight difference in sound for those two. Can’t remember the difference in type for c and k, I thought k was certainly quite big in typography.

      I’ve got loads of American books that haven’t been anglicised. Is it a one-way process? I must look at a couple of old American books I have next time I’m back at the finca.

      Funnily, I called sweaters sweaters. I wonder if it was a fifties influence on my parents? Sweater girls? But I also call them jumpers and pullovers. I don’t wear them much so I’m struggling to remember what I call them now!

      Hope the Chikungunya virus is going away. Sounds evil. I did read, but I’m behind on commenting. Best wishes for a speedy recovery anyway.

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      • Thank you! Today seems to be a good day so far, virus-wise.

        I do believe it’s a one-way street, though, with regards to re-editing. It’s only Americans who don’t seem to be able to understand “other” English. Perhaps it’s because they’re not part of the Commonwealth Club, or maybe it’s another way they’ve found to assert their independence from the rest of us.

        I recently wrote a foreword for an American author’s novel and purposely used the spelling “honoured” to see if it would get a rise out of him. He wrote back to tell me there was a typo in my copy – I had left off the “s” in “his”. I replied that I figured he would have called me out on the extra “u”, but he said, “Nah! That spelling adds a touch of class to the foreword.” Then I told him I had been quite chuffed that he’d asked me to write the foreword in the first place.

        He asked, “What’s chuffed?”

        Lost in translation?

        I have sent your blog link to my Canadian editor, roughseainthemed. I know she will enjoy reading this, especially as she’s preparing to move to England to live and work for a year.

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        • Thanks for sending the link, and I hope she enjoys her year out. I’ll be doing an interview with an American author in London next month, so that might be interesting for her too.

          I didn’t know Canadians used chuffed!

          I wonder if it is younger Americans? Don’t know. I’ve always understood that there is a certain cachet about being British/having a Brit accent in America but as I’ve never been, I’m just repeating hearsay.

          Tbh I think the people picking holes in the book posts I read about (and there were a number, not just one, you might have seem them on the book blog circuit) were just being plain nasty.

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  5. As pink has said, the changes in language or rather spelling over the last several years is an interesting area of study.
    The Americans ignore u in neighbour and so many others.
    Yo ask readers to proof read your published work for- you said 3 pence- is being ambitious. I think such a person must have a big fan base to expect any meaningful report.
    Have a pleasant Sunday.

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    • Language will always evolve, sometimes for richer, sometimes for poorer. I think broadening language is good. Narrowing minds is not good.

      I laughed when I read the offer from said author, but it was really from incredulity. I have no idea what made her do it. And as she hasn’t replied to my helpful mail, guess I’ll never find out.

      Thanks friend, you too. We have a bank hol tomorrow too, so looooong weekend :)

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  6. Stepping slightly to one side of this fascinating debate, I recall reading a book by Frederick Forsyth in which he described a type of anti-personnel mine used as a booby trap to dissuade the ” Bad Guys” from entering a defended area…. He called it a ‘Bouncing Betty’ but described a totally different A/P mine, to whit the “Claymore”
    This error provoked me to write to him via his publishers. A good while later, a reply from his publishers filtered through….. thanking me for the ‘error alert’ and promising to inform Forsyth of my comment….. Nothing more was heard…..:-(

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    • You’ve reminded me I’ve also been meaning to contact a major English author to point out a big mistake in one book. There are smaller ones too, but like your AP mink this one stood out. Like you, I doubt I’ll get a reply. I do like Forsyth though.

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  7. It always annoys me a bit when the grammar/spelling police come out in blog comment sections. I try to be a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to my own(though I certainly have my fair share of mistakes and errors) but unless it detracts from the plot or the story line I just don’t think it’s a big enough deal to make an issue of. And unless you’ve been under a rock certainly you know that different nationalities of English speaking people spell things differently.

    As for the purse/handbag debate. I can add that what you are calling a purse is what we Americans call a wallet or a billfold. That’s what we put our money in. Though I’m not sure why we call a handbag a purse. A purse does indicate money. You can just call the whole of mine empty.

    I grew up calling trousers pants. I didn’t even know what trousers were until I was an adult. Even then people in America usually only call them trousers if they’re part of formal attire or dressy.

    You probably already know this but even among Americans there is a large disparity in the way English is spoken. I’m from the South and speak one way while people in the North West have a completely different dialect. Each region has it’s own idiosyncrasies. Sometimes I don’t even know what people from my own country are saying. ;)

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    • Oh, and incidentally, I think it’s weird when people say ‘out the window’ or ‘out the door’. Perhaps when I’m speaking it might sound as though that’s what I’m saying but if I were writing it I would write it ‘out of the window’. The only exception being that we do have a figure of speech here for when something’s gone by the wayside we say, ‘that just went right out the window’.

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    • Thanks Ruth for being the first – the only? – American to dip a toe in the water. I wd certainly not criticise anyone for an inaccurate comment, noticed something recently elsewhere, hey, we all type quickly and we can’t post-edit.

      A wallet implies something flat though for notes, ie your comment of billfold. A purse, tends to be a change purse, we have a couple, and you can also stick notes in them. What would you call that? And then there are the old fashioned purses that carried the kitchen sink and were handbag sized…

      The only pants I can think of were hot pants, and occasionally trouser pants, but normally pants referred to knickers in gym at school…

      I know stuff all about America Ruth. Apart from the fact that y’all speak a different form of English. And, courtesy of you and Victoria, that there are some religious oddjobs out there.

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  8. Ee bah gum tha’can allus rely on thee for a reight real read. I’d just put t’wood i’th’oyle cos it’s parky outside, put t’kettle on to mash a cuppa, and have a skeg at new posts.

    Seriously though, I thoroughly enjoyed your post, and all the comments too.
    Pink’s comment on the letter H is something that T is constantly pulling me up about…’it’s aich not haitch’, I keep getting told, I’ve no idea how or why I pronounce the H, apart from constantly being told ‘don’t drop your H’s.

    If the Americans want to change the spelling, that’s up to them, but it then becomes American English (Americanese, I like that) not English, and I totally agree, don’t criticise British writers spelling of our language!

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    • Ey up lass, (why doesn’t Apple have a Tyke keyboard, oh it’s American, made in China) tha’s reet. Or reight, I’d have to check in t’ Tyke bible. Maybe we should start Tyke blogs :) or occasional Tyke posts.

      I’m allus picking up A on his silly Welshisms and poor English so I wouldn’t lose any sleep about your aitches.

      It’s an interesting and surprisingly controversial topic. If anyone criticised my spelling you would hear the reaction reverberating around the intersphere. But to be serious, telling Brits they can’t spell properly? Thought I was quite mild in my post…

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      • I’ve just looked up the difference between reight and reet, as I wasn’t sure which was right correct.
        Apparently, reight means very and reet means right.
        Us Tykes will confuse the world ;-)

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  9. I can’t work out if this one is Americanese or just general laziness but I am hugely annoyed when I hear people say “I am bored of …..”. NO! You are bored WITH something.
    It seems to have crept into use more and more. My kids even started saying it until I re-educated them with threats of death if they continued using it.

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    • *sigh* I’m very dejected. I think it’s very critical for you to realize that Americans tend to be overly dramatic. Especial in certain medium. It is with lots of conviction that I say to you we know how to speak English.

      This critique has dealt me a very serious fatal wound. It has killed me dead.

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      • Isn’t that media Ruth? Ah, an American joke I guess.

        I got an email today asking to guest post, with very unsurperb English. I think she was American.

        Poor Ruth. I am sure we can raise you from the dead. I hear it happens. To some.

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        • I was trying to say certain mediums. There are magazines, blogs, *cough* news channels to which I am referring. It is particularly embarrassing when it’s coming from “professionals”. One comes to expect it from the slangy lay person. But from those for whom communication is their livelihood? Ridiculous!

          Perhaps the guest post request came from someone for whom English is not their first language?

          Irregardless I think that Americans do tend to use fairly poor English. I’m surprised you lot read my blog.

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          • Poor journalism isn’t confined to Americans. There’s some crap churned out in the UK too, whether spoken or written. Sports commentators tend to come in for stick because of the moronic inanity of their comments.

            I’m guessing it wasn’t although she had a perfectly Anglo name, but that doesn’t mean anything. Perhaps she’d not had a very good education? The irony was that she wanted it linked back to some essay-writing website, so I looked that up, and it was written in the most bizarre English. I was itching to take a red pen to it, so I clicked off before I did my blood pressure any further damage.

            :D I used to read a lot more American blogs years ago. It really stemmed from the dogblogging circuit, primarily using Blogger. I’m still in touch with a handful, but here on WP I seem to have a much broader mix, and a lot more Brits and ex-pats. I read blogs for two things. Content obviously, but also for the relationship with the author. I soon get pissed off if they don’t reply to my comments or just write ‘thanks’. Why did I waste my time? And you tell some good, if stark, tales.

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          • I read blogs for the very same reason. If there’s no interaction in the comments I grow weary quickly. I wonder what the point is if it’s not to develop relationships. Certainly it’s not because the blog author thinks everyone just wants to read what they have to say? Or maybe they do think that? *shrug*

            And you tell some good, if stark, tales.

            I’ll have to see what I can do about the stark part. I need to lighten it up a bit from time to time. :D

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          • A mix is good. Dogs and cats or pretty birds or flowers lighten. Me I like dogs and monkeys, but each to our own.

            I find the blogs that say ‘great post/photo’ with the corresponding reply of ‘thanks’ utterly meaningless.

            If the writing don’t generate anything interesting in comments, the writing is on the wall methinks. I am really pleased that people put so much time and effort into commenting on my blog. If people find it a chatty place, I’m happy with that. Most of all, I like that their comments add extra value and information to the original post.

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          • Although I have never checked, I doubt there are that many words. Though if one isn’t used to a particular style I imagine it could begin to grate very quickly.
            While not quite spelling errors I did use a couple for
            Americanisms in one of my books, the word couch or sofa, I think, while I should have used the English term, settee as Almost Dead … is set in an English village. Kate chewed my arse off for it. She also chewed my ass, which was just as metaphorically painful, trust me!
            I think she likes to give me a hard time, convinced as she is that I am sexist, … or sexyist, I have never been quite sure.

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          • Aw gee, Ark, another of your quaint Americanisms, you use them all the time darling. You don’t chew arse, as it’s an American colloquialism in the first place. Anyway I didn’t, I merely asked if your choice of words was appropriate given the context. :)

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          • They are both Yankiedoodle. That was sorta the point.

            By the way, is Aw gee, Ark an Americanism suggesting a free for all in the nood?

            I won’t banter with a a bantam, let alone a chick
            I’m only Yank-ing your chain. Besides, why spoil a good story with the ( whole) truth … y’all?
            ;)

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          • I do listen you know. And I am always appreciative of professional advice and the work is better off for it as well.

            Our friendly jousting has at least made me aware that having lived away from England’s green and p(l)easant land for so many years my language has become peppered with Ye Olde colloquialisms, Americanisms and South Africanisms that have at times crept into my writing.

            One of the other commenters mentioned the old maxim of consistency being the key. Isn’t it always in the world of writing?
            I guess the rule of thumb is, ensure you make the same mistake throughout! Yes? * wink*

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          • Aw sweets, I just like chewing your ass, says the vegetarian. So where’s my review copy of Pourne? Is the rest of it error free?…

            Consistency is key. Part 2 of three common errors, which by default then becomes six common errors, will indeed touch on that. And your favourite dilemma, when to capitalize ;) I’m debating on the third, or rather sixth, as I have a number to choose from… So it may well run to nine common errors. The tenth being, of course, that they didn’t employ me :D

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          • Ha! More confusion: It’s not even the wallet or the billfold that is called a pocketbook. We call a handbag both a purse and a pocketbook. o_O

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          • A handbag is a pocketbook?!!!!! Now you lot have def lost the plot. Best not to use a handbag, say I, never liked them anyway.

            It would ruin one of Wilde’s plays of course. Can you imagine whatshername in The Importance saying, ‘A purse?’ or ‘A pocketbook?’ instead of ‘A handbag?’

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  10. Americans criticising English spelling…they have their ‘erse oot the windae’!

    I was brought up on ‘an’ hotel and ‘an’ hospital…can’t think of any others, though I am still using ‘ae’.

    It would be a sad day to see the diversity of English usage disappear thanks to the financial dominance of American publishing.

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  11. I find it especially annoying that as a user of British spelling I am continuously told in my workplace that I have made errors. Seems that we are expected to know how to spell American English – but they are not expected to know the British.

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  12. Now here’s a thing. I also would be more than peeved to have anyone telling me that my English spelling was wrong. Each to his own, but I’m rightly proud of our language and intend to stick to the version I was taught and therefore consider correct. It drives me mad that school kids ( and their young teachers) are happy to shove z’s into every possible word, and that the exam boards are happy with this erosion of our language also. However, whining foreigners aside, I have nothing against them formulating their own abbreviated version of our language – just don’t call it English please. In the same way that I am fascinated with dialect simply because I don’t have one, I wouldn’t dream of suggesting that the absence of the word “the” is wrong – just an evolvement of our base language – and all these variations only serve to enrich our language. If I could choose my own dialect then I’d definitely be a Geordie.

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    • Some things change though, eg the double to single quotation marks in English, and the double space to single after a full point. Compound words change too.

      If you look at the photos, on the RHS it lists English as ize or ise and American as ize. I wasn’t aware ize was acceptable in English.

      What gripes me is that Americanese is becoming the default and we have to specify proper English on computer programmes :(

      Whay aye hinny. If you want to talk Geordie that’s about my limit despite ten years there. I don’t think their dialect is as rich as mine, but I would say that. Try chatting to Eddie (comments up above), he speaks proper Geordie.

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  13. Aw Heck, Rough Seas, we Americans can’t even agree amongst ourselves. Live in one region or another of our vast country and you’ll be exposed to all sorts of terms, pronunciations, dialects, and accents which will leave you “wicked” confused. Down South, we say we’re “fixing” to do something. And we “cut off” the lights. All of y’all get the idea, right?

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    • Well we say things differently in the UK too, Vicky’s comment above in our local dialect is a good example of that. As for the lights, in Spain we close them which I suppose is similar, so ‘cierre la luz’ for ‘turn off the lights’. Cut would be cortar and I’ve never heard that. It would definitely mean turning off the electricity rather than the lights.

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  14. Although I fully agree with you and have experienced some of the points you made with my American friends and others living in America. Several times argued with the spellings etc. I must say I am not that good at the English language, but am pretty good at spelling, In my job before I had to write emails, many emails to ordinary people/workers and Management [supposedly well educated people] and their spelling and grammar was just above primary school levels. I have also come across bad English. The written English is becoming fragmented due to texting / social media etc.. It certainly becomes ‘who is right or wrong… maybe neither.. I think maybe I have strayed a little off the subject.. never mind Kj I have enjoyed this particular post,, thanks.

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    • Gerry, I tore my hair out dealing with so-called managers getting paid more than me. It’s one reason I changed my career.

      You could write total dross, but if you were a ‘manager’ then the organisation’s writer would sort it. Well no, she would not. She dug her heels in.

      Why the hell should someone get ten grand more than me when they couldn’t string a sentence together?

      I don’t see that people should be in senior positions when they can’t spell or write. And if they need someone covering their backside, that person should be on the same money.

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  15. Thanks to Pink, I found your excellent article. What a cheek of Americans to suggest British authors have made spelling mistakes. It’s also annoying that the BBC sometimes uses American words on it’s website. I do have to hang my head in shame slightly here, as when I learnt to read, at the age of 4, around 1960, I did so partly by looking at a book by Richard Scarry, an American author. As a result, for years I spelled colour & centre the American way, & to this day unless I concentrate very hard, I automatically spell centre as center.

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    • Thanks for following Pink’s link to here kj. I don’t have a problem with evolution of language, for example I said above that I mostly use medieval rather than mediaeval, but I do have an issue with arbitrarily and ignorantly criticising someone’s use of their native language.

      Um, you are a couple of years older than me. But did you not get told off at school for color and center?

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      • Oh yes, continually, & eventually I started to spell those words correctly most of the time. . It once got me into serious trouble at work too, when working for a high street bank. I ordered a huge number of cheque books for a business customer, & put ‘Center’. The horrid owner threatened to remove his account to a different bank, so I had some serious apologising to do. It was a genuine, if stupid mistake, but has made me more careful now. I still occasionally make the ‘center’ mistake, but it’s rarer.

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        • Editing duly carried out. Interesting you were reading an American book, given the comments above about English books needing to be translated into Americanese for sale in North America. It would suggest the reverse didn’t apply (which was the subject of the discussion).

          Er, I think I would have been like horrid owner! Did he get some new cheque books with ‘Centre’? If I’d been the bank manager that would have been what I’d done. And put a big sign on your desk saying ‘CENTRE’. :D

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          • Yes, he got new books, I didn’t mind sorting out the mess & it did make me more careful – & it took months before I was allowed to forget my mistake.

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  16. I so enjoyed reading that, and appreciated your reference to English in other commonwealth countries! Even Microsoft acknowledges South African English… You mentioned so many of my beefs, and I have a challenge here: I always set my MS Word to UK English – the default is always US English, as it is for many websites, with no other option – like US English is a language. Humph! It really freaks me out that in South Africa, the leaning is towards American English (and that US accents have status). This means that some we-behind-the-ears minion will wrongly correct the English in a report submitted to a client … That said, I wish that clients would have a language policy: that way, when one writes for them, you know which “code” to be using. Anyhow, well said, and thank you!

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    • Thanks Fiona :) I wasn’t sure about the status of English in South Africa so didnt know whether to add it to the list. I left out NZ but that’s because I don’t have any Kiwi readers – that I know of.

      The default Americanese on computers is very irritating, and the fact that it often comes at the top of lists too, hardly surprising given where MS and Apple come from I suppose. Nor do I like English being described as English. It is English, pure and simple. And if anything should be the default, that should be. And then you can have English (Aus) (Can) (NZ) (SA) (US) in tidy alphabetical order which puts the US last :) I could go on for ages about this…

      I’ve got three keyboards set on my iPad and iPhones, English, Spanish and emoji. I’m thinking of adding French, but getting rid of the American one is the first thing I do.

      I had a discussion about the SA trend towards Americanese, I think it may have been over at Ark’s blog. Anyways, the reason posited was that there was a swing away from English, and all reminders of things colonial and apartheid, so Americanese was embraced, particularly among younger people. Perhaps it is an age thing. I find correct English to be a very elegant and thoughtful language. I curl up and die when I read/hear awesome unless it comes from an American teenager (13/14 rather than 18/19 when they should have grown out of it).

      When I lived in Australia (Sydney which was probably the most Americanised at the time) I didn’t notice any particular tendencies towards Americanisation. Aussie isms yes, but not Americanisms. I suspect nearly 30 years later that may have changed. Here in Gibraltar however, we are a happy British Overseas Territory and our official language is English. Other languages spoken are llanito and Spanish but neither are official. A lot of us are bi-lingual, a bit like SAs speaking Afrikaans and English.

      The point about what clients want is well made. It’s not just the language, some American grammar and style is wrong different. When I’m editing books, I always check stylistic issues with authors, there is more flexibility around fiction than there is reports. I used to edit a lot of reports and basically told people to shut up if they argued. If they could write properly in the first place, I wouldn’t need to edit their ‘work’.

      It’s interesting what a chord this has touched with non-Americans. And while I might tease and write light-heartedly about the differences, the underlying message was a serious one. No-one should have to justify their writing of English just because it doesn’t conform to American rules. And, it would behove some Americans, clearly not all, to look outside their front door.

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      • Yoh! (As we say in South Africa) So much to respond to. I’d like to read your article on Ark’s blog. I’m not sure I agree with your suggestion, however. I think it’s a lot simpler than that: the Equity ban in the 80’s meant that we were exposed to largely American entertainment. TV was only introduced in SA in 1976, a seminal year in this country…and programming was seriously limited and, as I recall, anything that wasn’t local content was American. Even “The Royal Wedding” in 1981 came without the BBC feed for the music… To return to my original point: I was at a liberal English university in the early 1980’s. The four liberal universities, and mine in particular, did not (still don’t) lean towards Americanese. Nor does the post-1994 education system (and I work in the post school ed system….) The apartheid fight was not about colonialism, per se, it was much more immediate, although its roots were in colonialism which is now increasingly being recognised.

        I think that I should try to find out whether there is a policy on “which” English we use and what is acceptable.

        Interestingly, I have a friend who teaches in a private school that uses a US Christian system (an entirely other issue), and who gets enormously frustrated with the spelling and Americanese issues which they must deal with to comply with *that* system, and which are different from that to which we are accustomed.

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          • Yes that was a good and controversial read. Well the writing wasn’t but the museum was and the concept of white nostalgia was. I think how Afrikaans evolves and is viewed will be interesting.

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        • It was more a throwaway comment at an Americanism he wrote and hence he explained the rationale. Assuming it was his blog of course :D

          Your Equity and TV points are interesting, as too is the education info. I did look at wiki ☺️ afterwards and noticed you have eleven national languages… There was a note for that, which under the references linked to a site about the constitution. It was in English – with the option to read it in all the others – but I didn’t read it to see what sort of English. Might be an interesting starting point.

          Religious school are a problem in that they put religion before state. Specifically American ones too. It’s not ACE is it? I think I’d be looking for a new job.

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          • Your point about the Constitution – all our legislation is written in British English – and in my day job, I read a lot of the legislation :)

            BTW, we now have a 12th language that has been formally introduced into our education system: South African Sign Language. There is an bit of a fracas at the moment as the legislation is *always* in English and one other language (alternately). Some people are saying that it should be (and all drafts available for public comment) in all eleven.

            Don’t get me going on religions and religious schools – yet another issue. How did you guess it was ACE? She will certainly be looking at a new job once she has qualified.

            Happy day…

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          • So that wd imply technically/legally that English *should* be the preferred version. Of course, dealing with American clients or schools…

            In Spain, the main language is Castilian Spanish, but Catalan, Gallego, Euskara and Occitan are officially recognised. Asturian and Aragonese are part way there.

            ACE is the most (in)famous is it not? I don’t think they should be accredited in non-US countries. Not only are they brainwashing kids with religion, they aren’t teaching them the national language of their home country.

            I know little about religion but some of the bloggers I read have de converted, so iver learned a lot from them. Can’t remember where I picked up on ACE, I didn’t know the acronym so looked it up. I also, read about ACE in the UK, the school/s basically weren’t up to scratch, and yet the authorities did stuff all about it. Very bad. Very insidious.

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          • I first came across the ACE system in the mid-80’s. It was proposed as an option for children with special needs. In this instance, street children. I went to see a school using the system and did some other research and rejected it. Methodologically, it is problematic, partly because it is so highly individualised as to virtually exclude social interaction between pupils, other than in the playground. I won’t go into the religious side of it, except to say that like so many religion- based initiatives, far too dogmatic and narrow.

            Interestingly, I don’t think that the ACE system, per se, is accredited in South Africa. To be legal in our system, the school would have to comply with our requirements, and the exit examinations/assessments (and therefore the curriculum) would have to be ours so that pupils could either move to other schools if need be and/or gain a certificate that has the appropriate currency for moving on to higher education and/or work. School accreditation is a really complex thing…

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          • I read another South African blog where they have started a local school, can’t remember the detail. No idea about accreditation but it is a small community. It’s not ACE!

            Schooling in the UK was much easier in the old days of grammar schools, secondary schools and technical colleges. And private and public schools in the paid for sector.

            I’m not convinced that all the changes have achieved anything. Certainly not the increased focus on paperwork and targets. I’m sadly into very old-fashioned teaching… Probably because I did OK out of an academic education.

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      • South African English is terribly complex online. You type and you just get click, click- click click, then a man with spear appears at the door and it isn’t Ark (or Arch, as he seems to prefer these days)

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  17. Bwhahahahahahha! Oh, you should really write a post like this every day Kate! I giggled all the way! I loved spelling in school but when it comes to English grammar, I totally flunked and that is one of the reasons why I will never write a book. It always confuses me when I get to words like favour/favor – in our schools we were taught it’s ‘favour’ and ‘colour’. As far as the American/British spelling goes, I think it’s not nice of the Americans having a go at the Brits for not spelling ‘their’ way. Shame on them and really no need for some of them to twist their panties in a knot. LOL!

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    • I do have other things to do, most importantly, paid for writing/editing. Anyway, if you laughed that’s good :) what isn’t good is picking on people nastily. If I read a badly edited book, I don’t leave a bad review about poor spelling (although I could be tempted now 😈), I either leave nothing or send an email, saying, ‘um, you could really do to go through this book again’.

      I never think about favour etc. I know how we spell it and Americans choose otherwise. I was good at English Language though, one of my best subjects.

      Twist panties in a knot? Knickers in a twist? Another American phrase I loathe is about putting on big girl panties. It sounds gross. And far from meaning to grow up or accept something, it just makes me think of some woman wallowing around in over-sized (ie big girl’s) underwear.

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      • The way you wrote it was funny for me indeed and I had a good chuckle. Yes, I totally agree – no nastiness was needed for sure.

        I used to worry about that but decided I will stick to the spelling I learned in school and not worry what another country that is nou South-African tell me what I should do.

        You are lucky to have English as your first language. Here it was my Second Language and some days it’s difficult for me to think in English. I think in Afrikaans and then have to translate it in my head. Can you imagine what an effort that is? LOL!

        Here we talk about panties and the big girl panties thing is gross. It makes me think of huge panties. Who is going to wear them in any case if they’re too big for you? Still, for them to try and tell others their spelling sucks, is petty and unreasonable.

        Found this on the net. Thought you’d enjoy it. :D

        http://www3.telus.net/linguisticsissues/BritishCanadianAmerican.htm

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        • I never set out to be funny. I can never tell jokes. I just churn out whatever drivel is buzzing around in my head. Can be anything.

          I don’t see anything wrong with using the education you learned as a basis. In my field, what has changed is punctuation rather than spelling, although some compound words change over time, ie they move from separate to hyphenated to a single word.

          I used to translate from English into Spanish in my head initially. And one day it fell into place. Then you get into the stupid scenario when you can’t remember the English…

          ‘Remachar,’ he says. ‘Yes’ I answered.

          ‘Well what is it in English?’

          ‘I don’t remember.’

          Eventually he remembered how to say it in English. We both knew what he was talking about and couldn’t for the life of us remember the English – it’s pop-gun riveting 😀

          Knickers is a fine word. Should not be underestimated. Far superior to ‘panties’.

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          • hahahaha! Same here and I can’t even remember them.

            I agree. Let’s stick to what we learned … even if others think we’re wrong. It’s not my business what they think anyway. LOL!

            Whahahahah! That sounds so familiar and if you have a hubby like mine, he will make you remember it for the 28 years you’ve been married and you will still laugh about it together. Now you know why I am a ‘Googlist’. hahahah

            I am glad you think so. Okay, you keep your knickers on and I will not get my panties in a knot. Deal? LOL!

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  18. While I have no doubt that there are Americans who complain about the spelling of words such as “neighbour” and “flavour,” I, as fellow American, am at a loss to understand why. If they can’t figure out it’s the British spelling of a common word they’ve either so ignorant of the English language that they were raised by wolves or are being disagreeably chauvinistic so they can pick a fight.

    Personally, I really don’t want all my literature distilled down to standard American boilerplate; it would take away much of the enjoyment of reading writers from other parts of the world.

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    • They might have been better to be raised by wolves…

      Trouble is on my blogs, all the Americans and Canadians who read are perfectly reasonable civilised people who wouldn’t make such asinine comments.

      I read plenty of American novels. It’s a bit like going abroad and enjoying the novelty of a foreign language. From your armchair in this case.

      Perhaps the ‘You say tomato’ song should be re-released to point out different pronunciation and spelling are actually acceptable.

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      • I agree that it’s exceedingly rare to run into people on my blog who would take offense at the English spelling of a word, or, perhaps, to put it differently, a non-American spelling of an English word. But I also know, particularly from reading such hotbeds of inanity as the comment forums of local television station websites that such people exist in abundance, and seem, in fact, dedicated to proving to one and all that they’re cretins.

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        • I think the issue about blogging is that it is so international. One would have to be very bigoted to not read say, an English blog only written by writers from one’s own country, either by birth or residence. I read blogs written by Aussies, Canadians, Indians, South Africans, and from time to time by other bloggers whose first language isn’t English of any type. It’s part of the interest learning something new all the time, and discovering different ways of speech and writing are all part of that.

          Local TV websites aren’t my thing. I suppose it might help to have a TV. I’ll take your word for it :)

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  19. Wow, I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many comments on a blog post. You’ve certainly got people thinking. I think you nailed it with the post title. Americanese, is a language in its own right, and bears a strong similarity to English. Microsoft please take note and amend your ‘language choice’ accordingly. :) Both languages should be easily comprehensible to all Anglophones of moderate intelligence.

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    • Try this one:
      https://roughseasinthemed.wordpress.com/2014/04/25/editing-lettuces/
      For some reason people have something to say about writing :D

      The discussion with Fiona was interesting about default settings. I think English (wot I speak) should be called English, any other variation should have its country of alternative English in brackets behind, thus restoring our fine language to its eminent position while acknowledging the quaint variations made by our former colonial outposts ;)
      Anglophones possibly. Anglophobes though?
      The worrying undercurrent about it is though that, we (America) have more money, more people, more power etc etc, so what we say is right. Clearly not everyone thinks that qv Cotton Boll’s comment, but some do. An ill-educated majority is not a good sign :(

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  20. A very amusing post. Not only have the Americans screwed up the English language… they messed up my life… I don’t know who is what anymore… help! Well, maybe not that far. ;) But I do still use a lot of Americanisms. They are brought up with what they know, just like we are. I remember once, my sis rang and got the wrong number. She ended up speaking to somebody in Alabama who asked her if she could speak English… lmao… she was truly pissed off! :D

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    • Amusing :( What did I write wrongly? I was extremely serious. When you get Americans attacking your British spelling and word usage, you might not find it funny. On the other hand we both might get a laugh from it!

      Yeah I noticed you have a large hotel-style foyer in your house while the rest of us have a small hallway.

      They might be brought up with what they know but you don’t have to visit either country to work out there are different spellings and different words. I knew sidewalk from an early age – I blame my parents for their taste in 50s American films.

      Did she slam the ‘phone down? I think I would have done. a) the expense of a wasted long distance call and b) I wouldn’t have known what to say!

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      • I found it amusing because it’s all so true… lighten up. I enjoyed your post. And, I have had Americans criticize my spellings etc. I know exactly what you mean. I refuse to apologize or explain. Like you said, we shouldn’t have to.

        ha ha!

        Of course not, simply watch an american movie or read a book.

        She did, of course. I still found it hilarious the way she was going on about it. Oh don’t worry, she said plenty before she slammed down the phone. lol

        Hi, btw. :D

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        • I am a serious person. I refuse to lighten up so there.

          But on the spelling, it’s not exactly difficult is it? No Brits criticise your spelling eh?

          I’ve got a huge mix of books in the flat and on the iPad. Wherever the book is set I expect that spelling. Did struggle with one set in the UK with American spelling. Don’t like slagging authors off, but it didn’t read well. One American in a book set in the UK does not make for a good read in American spelling. Interesting take I suppose. A bit like our hero/heroine travelling to the USA and using English…

          What do you reckon? If a book is totally set in one country shouldn’t it stick to that language, unless it is written in first person?

          I’m pleased she slammed it down:) Good on ‘er.

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          • You have a heavy foot… Oops, did I say that? :D

            No it’s not. I remember my spellings with the U’s etc, but I sometimes forget about the S and Z to be honest.

            Good on you, now get ’em read! ;)

            I agree. with the exception of the foreign character(s) I would expect any dialogue from an American character to be American, even though others would be in English. It’s not exactly rocket science and anyone who criticizes it should be shot on sight. :)

            Think of it this way. In a movie, you don’t expect the American character in london to sound like a london brit… you expect her/him to sound American… therefore it should be the same way, in the book. Consistency has to be cross-cultural as well as inter-cultural. I’ll teach you about this when I write M3 ;)

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          • It was even heavier when it was encased in knee-length plaster.

            Well I’m puzzled that the dictionary seems to think ize can be acceptable in some English cases, I’ve never seen it.

            Thanks darling. I’ll look forward to my lessons, cheeky toe-rag!

            Liked by 1 person

  21. That’s too bad, if you’ve come across Americans telling Brits how to spell. Wow!
    While I was still living in Quebec, I watched a programme on PBS [http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/story-of-english/], that was interesting, to me at least. I learned something about how the American English had evolved, over the decades, amongst other things.

    A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a blog, pondering why my Google Chrome spellcheck [which is set to British English], always corrects me when I type realise [only that word, no others with -ise/ize]. That drew a few comments … even from people who had never visited my blog before. I don’t have access to the full Oxford Dictionary, only the Canadian Oxford, and they gave realize.

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    • If you look at my photos of my mother’s dictionary I was surprised to find ize is acceptable in English although about the only word I can think of is size! Must be very selective. Try Sonel’s link at the top of our exchange with the riffs between English, Canadian English and Americanese. Did I miss that post? Don’t remember.

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  22. I know I am a day late, but would like to point out to one poster that North America has three official languages. The third one is Spanish. Mexico is part of North America and our official language here is Spanish.
    I don’t know how I feel about the subject discussed in this post and must say that I don’t understand very well why people get so upset over underpants v panties, or purse v pocket bool as examples. I am just happy that I understand either meaning , because it widens my knowledge of English. I also like to preserve the energy being spent with getting upset for more important things…..:o). After having lived in the Caribbean, Singapore and India I am these days just glad that I only have to deal with American and British English, which is really no big deal at all.

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    • The issue is not about linguistic differences between English and American English, my point was about Americans criticising British authors for their spelling in books because it was English not American. That’s like someone telling you that you can’t spell correctly in German.

      Don’t mind Pink. He has his good days. I wouldn’t choose to argue with him about any language apart from the ones I was born with (technically one is a dialect).

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  23. An excellent post, Kate, and I so enjoyed reading the comments. From experience, and in my not so humble opinion, Americans do seem to have a much smaller vocabulary than we who have received a good British education. One thing that made me titter at my DiL’s house, was that toilet paper was referred to as bath tissue. Who uses tissue in the bath? Surely it would just disintegrate. When I write the newsletter for our country club in Florida, I have to use American spelling, otherwise the editor will think I can’t spell, and change it anyway. My son has had to adapt his British spelling and terminology, when writing reports for his company too. It’s all so confusing, isn’t it?

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    • Thank you. A lot of comments but interesting and worth a read. Again, as with others who have commented, you’ll know far more about American usage of language in daily life than I do. Well, it doesn’t take much to know more than nothing!

      It seems to me that Americans have an aversion to the word ‘toilet’! In Spanish toilet paper is papel higiénico which cracked me up when I first heard it.

      To be fair, you wouldn’t really expect a Florida newsletter to be written in English! I don’t think the differences in spelling are difficult so much as the usage of different words and unknown idioms, but that’s the same in any language.

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  24. No, the grammar lesson will not be forthcoming, because I think that a friendly discussion with you might not be possible. It seems that letting things go is difficult for you even after more than 24 hours….:o). I much rather just concede the point and leave it at that.

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  25. enjoyed this post, and the comments which have ensued as well. in fact i had already officially called it a day and was reading this on my cell phone. but typing is easier on my laptop so i actually powered it up again despite the lateness of the hour.
     
    lots of valid points made here already.
     
    as has been mentioned in an earlier comment, Canadians seem to spell and write selectively, switching easily between British English and Americanese. i actually don’t remember a time when i wasn’t aware of alternate spellings, and generally have always preferred ‘favour’ to ‘favor’ and ‘centre’ to ‘center’ as well as ‘traveller’ to ‘traveler’ in personal usage. however ‘tyre’ and ‘kerb’ were not an option i was aware of until i read some British books, but by then ‘tire’ and ‘curb’ were already deeply entrenched and i have stuck with those. along with ‘mom’ instead of ‘mum’ as you indicated above, however the pronunciation has always been ‘mum’. and for the record, i prefer using ‘grey’ over ‘gray’, although i know which colour is meant regardless of the spelling :D
     
    in any case, spelling, grammar and vocabulary evolve over time and across cultures, which is what makes language such a rich, fascinating thing, and it does not make any more sense to me to critique an alleged misspelling as it does to protest the use of ‘their’, which is one of the earliest conversations we had.
     
    i also think that the internet is an incredible tool, because despite the fact that most of us who have left comments on this piece live on different corners of this planet, and we speak a variety of dialects, and we certainly do not all spell everything the same way, and yet despite all those factors, such a conversation here is possible.
     
    you say tomayto and i say tomahto – and all of us are the richer for it.
     
    thanks for a terrific post! and now i must call it a day. good night! :D

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    • Yes, it was late when you wrote this! You could have left it until later today, or tomorrow or the weekend. No pressure to comment ;)

      I tend to think of your spelling when I think of Canadian spelling, partly because of the discussions we’ve had in the past, and I remember they grey one too. Especially as grey turned into the new mustard. Actually except for Timmy posts, most of yours seem to be on a blue or green run right now. I digress.

      I do agree that evolution and richness are the cultural good points, that we can share over the internet which was why I found it so disappointing to read about the criticisms of British authors for alleged mis-spelling. As I also said above, sadly those sort of readers are highly unlikely to visit my blog.

      How do you say tomato incidentally? :D

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  26. Love this post!! When I started my degree in 2010 in Queensland I kept hearing that assignments should be in …..Australian English. I had no idea there was such a thing?! But there are indeed Australian English Grammar books in the reference section of the Uni book shop. Australians seem to spell everything the same though but have an annoying habit of pronouncing words like yoghurt in Americanese (yoh-gert rather than yog-urt). My other pet hate is when rugby commentators here say a player is making a ‘day-bu’ and not a ‘debut’. Quite apart from all the obvious colloquial words and abbreviated terminology Aussies have I’ve yet to notice anything different spelling-wise and am proud to say I graduated in adamantly Yorkshire English sans American Zee’s or Australian G’days! :)

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    • Thanks NP. :)

      I’m glad I did my first degree in the late 70s in the UK! (Masters in 90s).

      Interesting you could by in English though, even if double spacing proved a last minute problem! I can so appreciate that, I really can.

      The differences in the forms of English are interesting. I’m guessing Australian English is still more English because it isn’t bang next door to America, unlike Canada – see Canadian comments from Susan and pix n kards, plus Sonel’s link to the differences.

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  27. I’ve not come to share prejudices (I know! I know! Spoilsport), just for the usual entertaining read and to say ‘hi’. I’ll be offline in Tavira for a couple of weeks- mostly lazy beach time for my husband. If I see one of those ‘day trips’ I’ll hop down to Gib for a quick look see. Hope the ankle’s well on the recovery road :)

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  28. Here in Canada we recognize both versions as correct, as long as the piece is internally consistent. It’s acceptable to use either “u” or “ou,” for example, as long as you do it consistently.
    Of course it lets people like me easily spot when a piece of written work is cribbed together from several :-)
    Now, as for typos, that brings me to the whole issue of having a second set of eyes go through your work. Sadly, today, professional writing pieces are often lacking owing to the absence of copy editors, proof readers, editors and reviewers.
    I could go on, but am pretty sure that I’ve already ranted about this on a previous piece on your blog.
    Case in point, though: you recently uncovered an issue on one of my posts. I stated that my grannie died before by grandfather whereas it was in fact the opposite. I was careless. Your eyes spotted this and noted the logical inconsistency it produced. I did not, even though that piece went through several drafts and I did try to fix my own errors–something I was clearly not capable of doing very well by myself. I believe few are.
    Your last paragraph: my exact sentiments too. Count me in if you plan a march on it!

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    • Wow! Maurice, you’re catching up big-time. Reminds me I never did comment about your icebergs after WP ate my comment. Oh well, maybe next time.

      People aren’t consistent, but they don’t even realise it.

      I have never read any pre-published work that has been without errors. Including my own.

      You’ve changed that post! I went back to look, do you want to scrap my comment or just say something like ‘I’ve now clarified’? I assume from the subsequent post, that although she collapsed she didn’t die, but en route, he did, while she was still alive back home? Sorry. Stories have to be logical for me, and with years in the business… Just like you would be with your subjects.

      I was quite saddened to read a recent post saying editors are an unnecessary waste of money. But I’ll post about that one :) it’s a good tale. Although not for editors :( I ain’t marching anywhere, still on crutches.

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  29. An incredibly entertaining post and comment forum… after which I feel somewhat daunted, there is little I can offer.
    However, I fear my Australian English which once was predominantly influenced by English English is now quite hybridized with Americanese to the point which I often can’t recollect what I should be using unless the spellchecker has a preference. That too is confused as work and home computer spellcheckers are different. I work for a global company and I blog, sometimes I feel like everything I spell is incorrect. The word highlighted most is verandah vs veranda… it just doesn’t look right without the h. And there’s a few Australian terms I have had to explain such as ute and smoko.
    Add in my rapid but not accurate typing and I’m grateful that my message does seem to get across regardless.
    For mine, I prefer books to be in the native tongue of their author but as we seem to be drawn inexorably to globalisation of every-bloody-thing, they will too but until then there may be the opportunity for people to say something about it just to have something to say.

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    • Light-hearted maybe, but serious point behind it. I think your lingo is pretty American, but look on the bright side, you wouldn’t have to plain ute or smoko to me. We still use those terms 30 years on. Ute more than smoko as we don’t smoke but in reference to others who do. Bloody Gordon and Gotch and smokos are engrained on my memory!

      I prefer linguistic separatism, so I’ll continue to fight for it. I really don’t see why British authors have to explain the language they write in to avoid rude and basically, ignorant criticism. I think Aus is falling on the Americanization of language. An escape from one colonial power to another?

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  30. I simply cannot understand why they ever needed to change the spelling of certain words n the first place. Surely the English language had evolved enough by the time even the Mayflower set sail and surely once the Constitution was penned?

    The first time I came across American Spelling was when I was a kid and simply thought it was a print error. The word was color, if memory serves?
    Are British authors asked to alter spelling for the US market?

    I agree with you about this woman and her proof-read-for-pennies challenge.
    It is demeaning, churlish and childish.
    Even if she was ‘word perfect’ the rather unsavoury sounding motivation behind making such an offer is, quite frankly, contemptible.

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    • Don’t ask me, have no idea why they did. Country went to rack and ruin anyway after they shook off he colonial shackles. Look at it now…

      In trad paper publishing authors were asked to Chang spelling of the American market, because y’know, Americans don’t accept any other form of ‘English’. The post came about because I had read about more than one author who had been criticised for poor spelling by Americans. The theory goes, as an author you don’t get into a spat over a negative review. Had it been my book I would have gone ballistic and told them to shove their ignorant perspective up their cherry pickin’ ass.

      I was also editing a book at the time, and the author had included at the front that it was written in British English. Puzzled I asked why, I mean do Spaniards write este libro esta escrito en español castiliano? Why wd anyone do that? Fairly obvious what it’s written in. Yup, another victim of the intolerant American reader campaign. There is only one English and you should only worship the American version…

      I thought the cents for typos offer was off the wall. My time comes in at more than a dollar ie 60 pence for two or three hours work. And she had to agree it was an error too! She wasn’t word perfect, just in case you were wondering :D but you knew I’d say that. True though.

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  31. I find the American/English I live with much more precise than the British/English I grew up with oddly enough. A drink in America implies alcohol, a beverage is something else. In England a drink is anything liquid without distinction. One simple example. A traffic circle describes precisely what traffic does, a roundabout is …um… a playground ride? Gray was the English spelling at the time of the Revolution and gray it has remained, the English “modernized” it. In the US collective nouns are attached, correctly, to verbs in the singular. The US Government does something whereas the British government do something. Collective nouns and their verbs on the BBC set my teeth on edge.
    I hate to suggest British/English is grammatically incorrect but…facts are stubborn things as that nasty old revolutionist is quoted as saying.

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    • Thanks for the visit and the comment Michael. My skit about Americanese was somewhat tongue in cheek, but it thought it was sad that British authors were being criticised for incorrect spelling by Americans.

      Your drinks comment is interesting. I had a colleague who always insisted on calling tea and coffee beverages. I think as a word in the UK it’s somewhat old-fashioned. It depends what you get used to I suppose. I read American books and couldn’t get over why everyone drinks soda (as in soda water) took me ages to work out it meant fizzy drinks. I like the Spanish word refresco.

      Maybe it’s a roundabout because you go round about it? Clare, well up above, mentioned English using the word fall originally too, like gray, and then changing to autumn.

      The nouns/verbs actually does my head in too. I think it was a lot stricter when I was a kid. I would actually say the government has or is or does something (usually not very clever but that’s a somewhat different topic). I think the use of a plural verb for a singular noun has crept in a lot over recent years, usually around football teams, eg Chelsea were in the lead at half time although personally I’d be just as likely to say was. I think we can agree on that point :)

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      • But the thing is that no everybody in the US calls it soda. In some areas it is soda, in others it’s called pop, or soda pop and some people use the word Coke as if it was a generic term applicable to all all kind of soft drinks, a word that is not as popular, but used. At least that is my experience from five years of living in the US while doing my graduate degrees.

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        • Hey, I just have to guess at what they mean! Doesn’t mean it’s wrong though, which was the original point of my post. So it’s not something I’m used to hearing, but I don’t say it’s incorrect. I think the people who criticise British authors for not writing Americanese are rude and discourteous.

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          • I agree 100% with you. For me it is a sign that the person lacks education. Here in Mexico we cal it ” Cultura “, the kind of education that comes with knowing one’s way in this world. However, I feel the same when people from the UK go on and on about how horrible US English is. American English developed differently for different reasons and that does not make it horrible, boring or stupid, it just makes it different. I find the same to be true for Spanish.
            Just an example: I am German, but my mother was originally from the Flemish part of Belgium and my father was born in the part of (now) Germany that was never quite French nor German. And that is where I am also from.
            My first language ( even though I lived in Germany ) was Flemish, my second was French and only my third language was German. When I did not know a word in one language I made a reasonable sounding one up and often people around me were able to understand it and a handful were used for a long time within my family and a circle of close friends. I imagine that something similar happened to American English . While living in the US I also contributed some new words. One was ” to dirten ” as in ” I dirtened my new coat “. I made the word up, because I did not know how to say that I had done something to caused my coat to get dirty. I still am not really sure, because all I can think of is either too long, to complicated and to me at least does not quite sound right. Anyway, I agree with you. I think we all need to write in the language we are most comfortable in. I think it would be ok for a writer from the UK to write in American English if that is what they prefer, just like I prefer to write in English and not in German, because I have lived abroad now for almost 40 years ( in more than a dozen countries ) and I am no longer comfortable with German. I would also find it rude and discourteous if someone would insist I had to write in German or British English, if my readers lived there . If I were a writer ( and I wish I were ) I would always chose the language I would feel the most comfortable in.I read both books in American as well as British English and never had a problem understanding and believe to use a cliché, if can do it any other English speaker/reader can too….:o).

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          • Falta cultura no less? They say it here too, by ‘here’ I mean the Spanish cross-border workers who my partner has worked with on construction sites in Gib.

            Is that the area around Aix La Chappelle/Aachen? I really liked that, I’d wanted to visit Aachen for ages, thought it was a beautiful city.

            I think you can legitimately say I dirtied my new coat. Or, I got my new coat dirty. Those are what I would use.

            It’s a mark of our intolerance, and also ignorance that we assume someone else is wrong before doing our research, which was what annoyed me originally about not just one, but a number of British authors being criticised for ‘incorrect’ ie not American spelling. Jumping to conclusions without checking our facts can make any one of us look stupid. Thanks for your contributions, from a diversity of linguistic backgrounds, to this post.

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          • No, Aachen is way up North and equally close to Belgium and the Netherlands and quite a ways away from France. I am from the extreme Southern Black Forest. If you look at a map it’s the corner on the very left neighboring France on one side and Switzerland on the other. When I was little my village had no supermarket or fancy stores and people went to Strasbourg in France, because that was closer than anything else in Germany. We also still spoke Alemannic , a completely different language from German and which really isolated us from the rest of the other Germans. Luckily, the area now is no longer underdeveloped and life is far less isolated now than it was until the 60’s and even 70’s.

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  32. I’ve only learned (barely) one version of English, so for me the British spelling of many things with an additional ‘u’ is an ouccasion to make merriment.

    I also find funny the statement that American English “. . . miss the u out of flavour and colour . . .”

    As far as I know, and I am not a linguist, color is the latin word from which we derive the word ‘color’.

    The question is why are the Brits adding a ‘u’, and not why did the Americans dropped it.

    Although I understand why Brits use ‘boot’ (basic laziness), I’ve not found why they use bonnet. Sure, they are all smug and arrogant about it, but their basis for it is simply usage, not because it is a better word for ‘hood’.

    But that’s the key, isn’t it? Usage, and what one is used to hearing, is what most people rely on to determine what is ‘right’.

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    • I don’t care about the differences. Speak and write however you like. My main point is that it is not acceptable for people to criticise Brits for not writing in American. If we accept and acknowledge US spelling and pronunciation it would be courteous of our cousins across the pond to return the favour instead of displaying il-educated ignorance. Or as droelma above said, falta cultura.

      When authors rely on good reviews to help book sales, ill-founded negative comments are unacceptable.

      The car ones are interesting, a lot of the differing words are around cars and roads. I don’t know about bonnets and boots, orvhood and trunks, bonnet and boot sounds to me rather like from top to tail, ie from one end of the car to the other. But, maybe, we don’t have so many hoods in the UK, of whatever type?

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  33. “Two nations divided by a common language” (words to that effect, anyway—I think it may have been Churchill.)

    But never fear, thankx to Sesame Street and the Muppets every kid everywhere now knows that the final letter of the alphabet is ‘zee’. Enough zed.
    I think the Americans are leading us in the race to an Orwellian Utopia where everything is proper-speak, which would be double-plus good if we were into the UN’s unity of Mankind (oops, personkind) … actually, time out:

    ‘person’? Ins’t that sexist too, because a ‘son’ is a (hoick-SPIT) <em)male(/em) offspring? Shouldn't the word be Americanised to 'perper'? Or retained but modified to personordaughter?

    All good fun, all we have to do is endure long enough to see how it ends. For myself I hate it, but some American-English is quite useful as in my above use of the 'time out'.

    I speak three languages fluently (four, actually) being English, American, Australian, and Kiwi; with a smattering of others …

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    • I love your avatar. Such a smiley face :) looks like my little rat Podenco.

      I think America is quite simply trying to run the world, and from what I see, making a pretty useless job of it. They might bleat about the British Empire but I don’t think we made any bigger mess of things.

      I actually agree with non-discriminatory lingo. How about rather than a perper, a peep? singular of people (Brits would of course spell it peop, correctly). Or even a perp? (etrator)

      I don’t think I use time out. Can’t bear American sport. Don’t understand it. There again I don’t like golf or cricket or ice hockey either.

      I speak English and some Strine, only spent a couple of months in NZ so no Kiwi. I can do Gibraltarian English which is not the same as full llanito. Plus the odd dull European language

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      • You have a rat? Cool~! A peep? I like that …

        I’m told by multi-lingual experts that English is best for technical stuff, French for cooking, Italian for love, Spanish for fury … no idea how true but I’d fight viciously (and me a peacenik) any bugger who tried to bring in a universal-language-by-law.

        My old man told me about the time when he was a lad a couple of sisters from a wealthy and sophisticated family were arguing furiously, slipping with no effort through half a dozen languages using what he guessed was the best fitting word or phrase for the emotion of the moment.

        Damn … I’d love to be able to do that.

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        • No, he just looks like one. White (albino actually) Podenco, it’s a Spanish hunting dog. Chucked in a rubbish bin at a few days old.

          We mix our Spanish and English. I can still manage some French, and he remembers the ones I taught him perfectly, eg Je veux un té avec citron.

          It’s a bit easier to do in Europe where we are all close together and they all have a Latin base.

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        • I feel like that about languages also. I feel that German ( one of my mother tongues ) is the language of my blood, English ( which I have no connection to other than having studied and used it for the last 50 plus years ) is the language of my mind/brain and Spanish the one of my heart.. the language I truly love…even more than German. Right now I am in Competa with friends ( two Danish sisters; one married to a Spaniard, the other to a German ) with family members from Switzerland and Greece through marriage. We do exactly what you describe using what suits best from all the languages we speak…..it’s not always effortless, because we have about a dozen languages among us that we don’t share. However when sticking to main languages like English, German, French, Italian and some other European languages we all have great fun communicating.

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          • I’ll be leaving on Wednesday night or Thursday morning to Madrid for an interview and then leave on Friday at dawn to fly back to Mexico ( fortunately my ticket on Iberia Business Plus has been paid for by my employer. The trip to Spain was quite pleasant because of it ). I was at a conference in Barcelona and am just here for a few days extra. It’s the area I plan to retire to, so there is always something to check out and take care of. This is especially true, because I am affiliated with Karma Guen, the Buddhist Center in the mountains above Trapiche/Torre del Mar. This is why I want to stay in the general Costa del Sol area. My retirement will have to be somewhere inland, close to the ocean, but not by the beach, because I love the ocean, but can’t stand the existing beach culture. I can’t tell you where all I have visited, the list would be too long……I have been coming to Spain since the late 60’s ( about 45 years now ), worked here the first time in 1972 as a Caritas Socialworker in the Alpujarras….visited mostly in the Axarquia region andalso worked just once up North in San Sebastian ( the Alpujarras and San Sebastian were still under Franco…..seems hundreds of years ago ). But yes, I know the places you mentioned…..

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          • Good luck with your interview. Madrid is a bit of a hike from La Axarquía.

            Gosh, you have experienced some very different Spains.

            We are an easy walk or cycle ride from Torre, my partner cycles to Velez too. My village though, is not beach culture, it’s known for its aloofness and idiosyncrasies. Some say the people have three toes… But it is a good village. Like many Spanish pueblos there is still a sense of community, we help each other.

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          • I am glad for you that you found a place where you are happy. I have known too many people ( mostly from Germany or UK) who have realized their dream ( supposedly ) by living in Spain, but are still unhappy and full of complaints, because they can’t find a hairdresser who speaks their language at the price they are willing to pay, the groceries they are used to, or if they exist the items are too old or too expensive, the cable service in their language is too expensive and according to them the Spanish TV is shitty….how would they know if they don’t speak the language ? They complain that their Spanish neighbors are standoffish and should not live in a gated community for foreigners in the first place….I could make a whole list of it and of course avoid such people, even though I have to admit that I enjoy the herring shop ( as I call it ) in Torrox Playa, because we don’t have herring in Mexico. Three toes you say…..several family members of mine, including my father, had webbed toes…..I might just fit in there…..jejeje. Reading your blog, I’ve always been curious whereabouts ” your village ” was, now my nosy me has an idea. BTW: Malaga – Madrid on AVE is only 2.5 hours. If I count the trip to the airport, the time I have to be there before the flight, the actual flight and getting out of the airport…..I am better off going by train. But maybe that is also because I love trains.

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          • Totally agree. How can you live somewhere and not learn the language? Smacks of idiocy to me. I like Spanish TV :) my TVs have succumbed to dust disease but it was good while it lasted. And, great for learning Spanish, the news on one hand, the soaps (simple Spanish) on another.

            I’m not snooty abou expats, but we just happen to mix with our Spanish neighbours as they are the people we meet and mix with all the time, just as you would anywhere.

            The AVE is a pain. I loathe it. Got a bad seat on it once, didn’t get moved, ended standing up in the corridor for most of the route. There was a good old train that went around the houses. Cheaper, comfortable and freshly cooked food.

            I love trains too, but not modern ones. Too dull.

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          • I have mixed feelings about some trains, because I use them for leisure travel as well as business travel. This summer I went for work from London to Paris and to Madrid by train. From Madrid to Geneva by plane and from there to Rome by train again and it was perfect for me, since I have a tendency to swell like a Pilates ball from too much short term flying, caused by several medications I take for Lupus. I think I am not snooty about expats ( how I do not like that word ! ) either, but sometimes get a bit distant and even arrogant. It has happened all to often that a new acquaintance ( they a resident of Spain and I a visitor ) invites me for a chocolate and churros breakfast ( I like neither; black coffee is just fine ) to then casually invite me to come along to a place where I could be useful, because my Spanish is fluent and theirs ” not so much ” ( read: nonexistent ) and I end up translating all morning to help them with their new gas contract, to get a senior discount card or try to explain their local tax problems to someone. But I still love it all…it does my soul good, chocolate, churros, complaining foreigners and all, especially now that I have a desk job in the 30 million Metro Area of Mexico City and no longer work in the field.

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          • Hell at least if we ever meet in La Axarquía you won’t need to translate for me. English or Spanish does it fine for me.

            I was on the Paris Madrid sleeper one night. I picked it up south of Paris, probably because I was sick of Austerlitz.

            I wandered up, with my bag, and a Spanish porter beamed at me, carried my bag, and showed me to my cabin. I realised I was home. Not literally but the staff were Spanish. So it was almost home.

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          • Yes ! This is why I want to retire in Spain. It feels like home ( after 18 years in Mexico and 39 away from Germany I call Mexico home ) but with some of the comforts of Europe . I know it’s over simplified. I can buy books, ethnic food and can make short trips to other countries that have lots of things I enjoy from books, music to museums, theater and ethnic food and not just the US , because on the other side in Guatemala…..they have less than we do.

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          • New Zealanders in the main find it impossible to relate, so far out of our norm.

            These days Google’s translate may assist in communications but actually experiencing another lingo is something else. I envy you your talents, skills, and dedication. Being able to pick exactly the right insult exactly when needed … I love it! :-)

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          • I don’t insult much, because I have learned that insults don’t work all that well when spoken by a non-native speaker, even if their language skills are almost perfect. That’s why I hardly ever swear. I bet if you would live for several decades away from New Zealand and would through circumstance be immersed in the local language/culture and be willing to learn, the very same would happen to you and to anyone else…..namely being able to speak with the local population on their level. I believe ( and that is based on personal experience ) that language learning has more to do with being willing to make the necessary effort which as you mentioned correctly include skills ( in my case study skills ) and dedication. People always assume that I have ” talent “, absorbed languages with the air, but don’t know that I was 39 when I started to study Japanese while living in Japan and I was two weeks shy of 50 when I entered a one year , 8-hours a day intensive course to study formal Spanish at a Mexican University, plus 30 hours of working my field. Yes, my employer paid for it, but I still had to make the quite considerable effort. And being often in the South of Spain and knowing quite a few foreigners I feel that for many the biggest problem with language learning is not the lack of talent, but laziness and the sense of entitlement. ” I bring my money here, so locals should speak my language “….

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          • Well said indeed~!

            ‘They’ say that if you exercise your mind it can use its almost infinite capacity to expand(?) and absorb ever more knowledge and capabilities.

            Could be true, but I seem to have reached a point where I’m forgetting most of what I read even if I make a determined effort and take substantial notes. Perhaps if I focus more—but all the unrelated peripherals snib into the greater picture too; in fact they are the picture.

            It’s the greater picture that’s forced me to become an antiphase-the-mob Conspiracy Theorist. I rarely post now on what I see, I just take a sad note of predictions coming true.

            I especially love your last line above, so true. And in the hubris days of empire, many Brits knew instinctively that there was no need to learn languages—you just shout at the natives until they get the message. Yanks have taken over there …

            Like

          • I find the sense of entitlement annoying. I think it is rude to go and live in another country (or even holiday) and expect people to speak your language. OK so English is widely spoken, but so is Spanish. How many Brits can string a sentence together in Spanish? A friend’s daughter was studying Spanish in school, and the most she could manage was ‘qué hora es?’ She even had to check it with me.

            I did buy linguaphone tapes to learn Spanish, bought the papers, watched the news and soaps (initially with subtitles) and talked a lot to my neighbours. You know you have cracked it when you can answer the ‘phone and listen to the radio – no visual clues or aids.

            Like

  34. Couldn’t find a blasted ‘Like’ button. So here, I’m liking in text … have you got ‘like’s nobbled?

    (And the word like comes up 65 times in this post, so far …)

    Like

    • Likes are nobbled. So are smilies. Pretty obvious you liked it, or at least it caught your interest, because you commented. I did a poll on likies and smilies as two readers moaned at me. As I didn’t get an overwhelming vote to restore one or both, I didn’t. As many people were interested in ‘what’s an emoji keyboard?’ – one of the other questions in the poll.

      Like

      • Ta for that.
        I get the feeling that a lot of lonely people use likes and ‘follows’ not because they like or wish to actually ‘follow’ but because they are desperate for any form of (return) attention. I call these ‘spam likes’ (I also think that some use them in the office of a calling card; to each his own.) Good luck!

        Like

        • Many are just selling something, usually lifestyle counselling or religion. I’m usually polite to new commenters but I rarely look at likes, too much of a waste of time. I prefer to invest mine in genuine readers.

          Like

          • Politeness never hurts, genuine readers are the stuff of dreams.
            Speaking of which, I’m still conjuring the image of your rat after he’d scoffed your laces—the nearest I can come is the time I was outside a pet shop in the Takapuna Mall—the shopkeeper came out to warn me to back away from the parrot. Somewhat miffed I told him that I was no threat to his blasted parrot, and equally miffed he pointed out that the blessed bird was now quietly demolishing his third button on my shirt — ever heard a parrot chuckle when he realises he’s been rumbled?

            Like

          • Oh he just chew away at them poco a poco in the shoes, so suddenly you can only lace up the bottom two holes. And he runs away with a shoe as his prize, puts it down carefully and takes out the insole. Then he’ll bring both back after a gentle tug game, or an assertive LEAVE!

            Pic of rat on latest roughseas post. Sans shoelaces. Oh he also steals beer…

            Like

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