Thursday, 21 July 2016

UK/Australian Spelling vs American

When you read a book, do you pay particular attention to the spelling? Does it bother you that some words seem misspelt? 
And how do you know they are? Depending on which English-speaking nation you're from, you're bound to come across variations in spelling, and even terminology. If, like me, you're used to Oxford spelling (as used in the UK, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Canada) you'd have noticed nothing odd about the word I used in the 2nd sentence. But to anyone from the USA, it looks like an error.
Too often, I've seen authors unjustly criticised (me among them), and receiving low stars in reviews based on the reader's ignorance of cultural variations in spelling and terminology.  
It's annoying and frustrating, let alone unfair. 
I've even gone as far as adding a statement on my Amazon book page explaining my use of AUSTRALIAN spelling and grammar (which is essentially OXFORD standard). Sad but necessary.
Believe it or not, there are countries in the world that do not use the Webster's dictionary. 
I believe it's time we corrected this ignorance and embrace our differences.
Check out the list I've gathered showing the spelling differences between only a handful of words. Others, some of which I included, are those where "z" is used instead of "s" and "l" rather than "ll" and the omission of the letter "u" (they're in the list).   
So next time you come across, what you think is a misspelled or wrong word, check again. It might be you who's wrong.


aeroplane  airplane
ageing – aging
arse  ass
autumn – fall
barrister – attorney
bill (restaurant) – check
bookshop – bookstore
biscuit – cookie
bum bag  fanny pack
caravan – trailer
centre – center
cheque (bank) – check
chemist’s shop – drugstore, pharmacy
chips – fries, French fries
cinema – movies
coffin – casket
colour  color
cozzie – swimsuit
criticise  critize
draught  draft
favourite  favorite
flat – apartment
petrol station  gas station
jam – jelly
jewellery  jewelry
lift  elevator
mobile – cell phone
motorway  expressway
mum  mom
pavement – sidewalk
petrol – gas/gasoline
pimple – zit
postbox – mailbox
programme  program
pyjamas  pajamas
rubbish – garbage, trash
scone – biscuit
solicitor – lawyer
sweets/lollies – candy
taxi  cab
wardrobe – closet
Westfield (shopping centre) - mall

Those who've read my books will recognise some of the words in the list.
Happy reading 😊


Claire Plaisted said...

I have tried to tackle this several times. It can be annoying, sadly today if you're a trad published author, most is in US English. With the Indie community we can choose, though like you say, the reader needs to note it is in a different English.

Thanks for a great blog

Susanne Bellamy said...

Good post, Tima. I have a problem only with people who are so inflexible that they can't "read" a book other than in "their" version of the language.
I haven't heard of the taxi-cab/closet??? Missing an entry??

Virginia Taylor said...

I'm an Australian with a US publisher. So I get spelling comments from both countries. :)

Robyn Echols said...

I'm part of an international group putting together a box set of stories set in December 1941. One thing we agreed upon is we want a copy editor that would edit according to the grammar and spelling practices of the author's nation. We thought it would add to the overall international atmosphere of the book. It will be interesting how it turns out.

Sonia Parin said...

Sigh. I went with US spelling. It seemed easier (to avoid hassles. In reality, I have to work hard at checking my US spelling). As part of my research, I read 1 star reviews and have been astonished to find some Australian authors receive negative feedback for their spelling. In one instance, the reviewer stated the book was full of errors. I'd read the book and knew this to be a case of the author employing Oxford spelling.

Hail a taxi. Grab a cab. I've sweated bullets over these choices... There are times when reading becomes a chore because I'm constantly on the lookout for correct use of terms only to find variety. Cell phone. Cell. Phone. Blond. Blonde. What? What?

I know of at least one Australian author who switches between US & Oxford spelling depending on which publishing house she's writing for.

Tima Maria said...

Thanks Claire 😊 It's a pity that people can't accept non-US spelling. But I'm not giving up.

Tima Maria said...

Oops, thanks Susanne 😊 I went and corrected it. I don't know how that happened as I checked it before I pressed "publish." But anyway, I'm the same as you - no tolerance for readers who can't accept the correct British spelling 😊

Tima Maria said...

That's so annoying, Virginia. And that's why, after a few similar comments by reviewers, I wrote that statement on my book page. Haven't had a comment of that nature since 😊

Tima Maria said...

I so agree, Robyn. Why should I change my country's spelling and grammar to suit someone else? Not going to happen. Besides, my characters are Australian in an Australian setting. To use American spelling and grammar would be fake!

Tima Maria said...

I sense your frustration, Sonia, and it's so unfair. But I'm standing firm - it's Oxford English only. Maybe it's about time we educate our American cousins on "correct" English 😊

Tima Maria said...

... after all, the Oxford dictionary came BEFORE the Webster's dictionary 😊

Barbara Hawk said...

I have no problem with the differences. I love to read books set in other countries. If I don't know a word or understand it, I just look it up. Not hard and knowing there is a difference in spelling, it doesn't slow me down. Just one readers opinion.

Robin Peacock said...

draft in UK English is the first attempt at a manuscript or a letter.

Sonya Heaney said...

Years ago I had some writing published that I’d submitted in US English. Never Again. I don’t know what I was thinking (apart from wanting to get published), but everything since then I have risked criticism and written in *English* English.

So many Australian authors choose to write/blog/tweet in American English, and it upsets me. It also upsets me every time I get called stupid because I don’t type in American. My most hated one is the ASS/ARSE one. Nobody with an English or Australian accent pronounces it “ass”! An ass is a donkey – see A Midsummer Night’s Dream! 'Sexy ass' always gives me a giggle.

If we can constantly, constantly, CONSTANTLY read and adapt to American English, people who use that version of the language can extend that courtesy to the rest of us. People should at least be aware of the differences – just as I was taught US English alongside other English when I was at school in the 80s and 90s.

There’s nothing more ridiculous than reading books set in England and Australia (especially historical fiction) and having everybody speak like they’re from Texas!

Tima Maria said...

That's exactly my argument, Sonya. We're all expected to kowtow to US spelling, which is something I refuse to do.

Tima Maria said...

I so agree, Barbara.