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PostPosted: Fri Sep 28, 2007 8:27 am 
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sorry - this was meant for thread below.


Last edited by John Dodds on Fri Sep 28, 2007 11:57 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 28, 2007 9:22 am 
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Well done! Every time I see "ass" for "arse" in a British book - increasingly common - I burn the book. I'd burn the writer too, given half a chance ...


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 Post subject: Burning writers, Matt?
PostPosted: Fri Sep 28, 2007 9:35 am 
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Well, I wouldn't necessarily burn the writer - maybe just torture them a bit by forcing them to read George Bush's autobiography.


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 28, 2007 9:46 am 
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Don't blame the authors - blame market economics. The US is, by sheer dint of numbers, the more lucrative market for the English language. Why would a publisher pay twice the amount in proofreading and copyediting fees to produce two remarkably similar versions of the same novel just so the finicky Brits don't complain about a few missing or transposed letters? I'm as much of a purist for the local iteration of my mother tongue as the next man, but if I sold a book to a publisher and they told me that they'd be chopping it for US English, I'd take it with grace ... or at least I hope I would!

I think the bigger issue here is the fact that the story wasn't gripping enough to distract you from noticing the US spelling. I read a lot of US SF titles, and it's only the ones with dull plots in which I find myself noticing the language difference.

And thanks to the rise of the internet, I'd be very surprised if we don't see an incredibly fast convergence of US and UK English; as (for better or for worse) the default tongue of the written web (outside China, at least), standardisation is inevitable, probably to be formalised within the next decade or so. I figure we'd better get used to it! ;)

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 28, 2007 10:28 am 
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There are more speakers of British English than American English - British English is the default throughout Europe and in India. And only a few years ago ago English language Internet traffic dropped below the 50% mark.


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 28, 2007 11:58 am 
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I suppose partly my gripe is about American spellings being applied to British books, without the same happening for American books here. I'm quite happy to read an Amrican novel in the way it was written -

theater
realize
color

...for example. So why do our books need to have American spellings applied. Either a) US readers won't tolerate non-US spellings
b) they're stupid and don't understand what they're reading
c) publishers are using the default spell checker (US spelling) on their PCs
c) market forces demand homogenis(z)ation of the written word to US standards.


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 28, 2007 2:23 pm 
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iansales wrote:
There are more speakers of British English than American English - British English is the default throughout Europe and in India. And only a few years ago ago English language Internet traffic dropped below the 50% mark.


A very valid point, but I don't know if those figures correspond to publishing territories. How much English-language fiction is marketed and sold in Europe and India, and how does it compare to the markets in America and the UK?

I can't say this language slip is something that bothers me overly much. There are lots of people who argue that the Americanization of spelling is an awful and foul thing, but rather less people actually saying why. Apart from those whom it merely irritates, which I suppose is fair enough.

Ass / arse is a curious example because they're both slangy terms and have obviously different pronunciation. In writing you'd surely use these words to reflect the way people actually talk, and increasingly British kids and people are saying "ass" as well - probably as a result of American TV.

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 28, 2007 2:39 pm 
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iansales wrote:
There are more speakers of British English than American English - British English is the default throughout Europe and in India. And only a few years ago ago English language Internet traffic dropped below the 50% mark.


This is a really important point - and shows how people have been conned into believing that USian English is standard, when it just isn’t.

I should say that on those rare occasions when I see US language Briticised I feel every bit as annoyed: “The Centres for Disease Control” in newspapers, for instance, is just plain wrong; no such place exists.

The important point - beyond irritation - is that we want to read things written in their own language (to the extent that we are personally capable of doing so, which in my case is limited to English in its various forms). Anything else is imperialism; it may not matter as much as the US Army staging snipers outside hospitals in occupied towns to shoot the ambulance drivers, but shouldn't imperialism always be opposed, in big things as well as little?

Shaun’s point about young people in this country saying ass is interesting; I wasn’t aware of that, but of course you're right that if writers are simply reflecting what is spoken, then they're blameless; I shall go and throw a fire extinguisher at a few of them immediately.

(And, of course, there might be parts of Britain where arse is pronounced ass. Where I come from, we pronounce it arrrrrrrrrrse, and anyone who spells that without an R really does deserve a kicking. As does anyone who calls a cock a rooster, or a “male bird.”)


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 28, 2007 3:41 pm 
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friendlygun wrote:
... I don't know if those figures correspond to publishing territories. How much English-language fiction is marketed and sold in Europe and India, and how does it compare to the markets in America and the UK?


That's the important bit, as far as publishing economics goes.

And while I'm opposed to imperialism (change and standards when forced upon people, as opposed to homogenisation by inevitable drift), isn't trying to cling to certain ways of spelling, when we know exactly what the misspellings mean, a Quixotic rear-guard defence of an imperialism that was once ours, and now seems to be ebbing away?

Paging Dr. Chomsky ... :)

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PostPosted: Wed Oct 03, 2007 6:04 am 
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friendlygun wrote:
Ass / arse is a curious example because they're both slangy terms and have obviously different pronunciation. In writing you'd surely use these words to reflect the way people actually talk, and increasingly British kids and people are saying "ass" as well - probably as a result of American TV.


I always understood that "arse" was changed to "ass" by Noah Webster when he compiled his first dictionary, chiefly because it was less offensive. He also tried to introduce "nite" for "night", but that didn't take.


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 03, 2007 9:20 am 
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Quote:
...it may not matter as much as the US Army staging snipers outside hospitals in occupied towns to shoot the ambulance drivers, ...


???


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 03, 2007 9:45 am 
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Roy wrote:
Quote:
...it may not matter as much as the US Army staging snipers outside hospitals in occupied towns to shoot the ambulance drivers, ...


???


Mat's referring to the US Army siege of Fallujah in 2004. I assume, anyway...

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PostPosted: Wed Oct 03, 2007 6:50 pm 
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Paul Raven wrote:
..while I'm opposed to imperialism (change and standards when forced upon people, as opposed to homogenisation by inevitable drift), isn't trying to cling to certain ways of spelling, when we know exactly what the misspellings mean, a Quixotic rear-guard defence of an imperialism that was once ours, and now seems to be ebbing away?


Well (grudgingly), perhaps that's true... but, in the meantime English is unfairly burdened with these two, opposing, strands... not to mention other minor variants (like the West Indies versions), and it poses a significant hazard for all written forms of communication. (What happens when a young reader is not aware of what the 'misspellings' mean?) It's bound to cause confusion.

Yes, I'm all for accepting the unexpected changes that occur in a 'living language', but whose language is it, anyway? Why buy a cheap imitation when you can still have the original? Standards of literacy should not be allowed to lapse just because of market forces. UK publishers should stick with the OED and ignore Webster's, I say.

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PostPosted: Wed Oct 03, 2007 7:49 pm 
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Good heavens, such a to-do about language! I find American and British English equally easy to read and understand. One realises and the other realizes. One has colour and the other has color. So what?

As for standards and all that rigmarole, how far back do we want the standards to begin? Modern English, whether American or British, is 60% French. (A gift from the Norman Invasion in 1066.) It has a huge Scandanavian influence, not to mention the pre-Saxon (etc.) influences. Or shall we start in the 18th century, when Robert Lowth decided that one should be able to multiply words as one does numbers? (I refer, of course, to the nonsense of double negatives: if one can multiply "ain't got" x "no" and come up with "have," then what, I wonder, is the past participle of the number 7?)

Or shall we instead look at the history of colonization (or colonisation)? In those cases, it is the language of the coloniz(s)ed country that remains more conservative, while that of the mother country tends to change more. What are we to make of that? Does that mean American English is more like British English was at the time America was coloniz(s)ed than modern British English is now? Well, yes. So. Where shall we begin this "standard?" And if American English is second rate, how did it become that way? It has changed less since the continent was coloniz(s)ed than has English as spoken in Britain today. Does that mean, like Monty Python's newt, that British English was second rate in those days, but has since "got better?"

And we haven't even spoken of dialects. Which British dialect is correct? Oxford? Cockney? Jordie? [Fill in the blank]?

Or shall we tear out our hair completely and face the fact that no one, ever, in the history of the world has spoken "standard" English, whether British or American? That is an invention of the Robert Lowths of the world, who are much more interested in telling people how they should talk or write than in discovering how they do talk or write. To me the latter is infinitely more interesting, and the former more a matter of class snobbishness than linguistics. But hey, that's just me.

Sorry, folks, but whichever side of the Atlantic one lives on, this seems like much ado about nothing to me. But the solution is simple: if you don't like the form of English printed in a particular book, don't read the book. Write to the publisher to complain. Whatever. But I do suspect the people who talked about market economics are right. If a book would sell more copies were it printed backwards in Cockney, you better believe it would be printed backwards in Cockney.


Last edited by Hoing on Thu Oct 04, 2007 3:36 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Wed Oct 03, 2007 9:31 pm 
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Hoing wrote:
Good heavens, such a to-do about language! I find American and British English equally easy to read and understand. One realises and the other realizes. One has colour and the other has color. So what?

As for standards and all that rigmarole, how far back do we want the standards to begin? Modern English, whether American or British, is 60% French. (A gift from the Norman Invasion in 1066.) It has a huge Scandanavian influence, not to mention the pre-Saxon (etc.) influences. Or shall we start in the 18th century, when Robert Lowth decided that one should be able to multiply words as one does numbers? (I refer, of course, to the nonsense of double negatives: if one can multiply "ain't got" x "no" and come up with "have," then what, I wonder, is the past participle of the number 7?)

Or shall we instead look at the history of colonization (or colonisation)? In those cases, it is the language of the coloniz(s)ed country that remains more conservative, while that of the mother country tends to change more. What are we to make of that? Does that mean American English is more like British English was at the time America was coloniz(s)ed than modern British English is now? Well, yes. So. Where shall we begin this "standard?" And if American English is "second rate," how did it become that way? It has changed less since the continent was coloniz(s)ed than has English as spoken in Britain today. Does that mean, like Monty Python's newt, that British English was second rate in those days, but has since "got better?"

And we haven't even spoken of dialects. Which British dialect is correct? Oxford? Cockney? Jordie? [Fill in the blank]?

Or shall we tear out our hair completely and face the fact that no one, ever, in the history of the world has spoken "standard" English, whether British or American? That is an invention of the Robert Lowths of the world, who are much more interested in telling people how they should talk or write than in discovering how they do talk or write. To me the latter is infinitely more interesting, and the former more a matter of class snobbishness than linguistics. But hey, that's just me.

Sorry, folks, but whichever side of the Atlantic one lives on, this seems like much ado about nothing to me. But the solution is simple: if you don't like the form of English printed in a particular book, don't read the book. Write to the publisher to complain. Whatever. But I do suspect the people who talked about market economics are right. If a book would sell more copies were it printed backwards in Cockney, you better believe it would be printed in backwards in Cockney.


Sir, I raise my hat to you.

Or, in the vernacular: BEST. POST. EVAR.

;)

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