English Language and your Readers!
Who is your Audience? Do you know? Do you care?
Remember choosing your Audience also affects the marketing
you will need to do.
Editing is not my thing. I do my best work helping with the flow and structure of a manuscript. I’ll call it proofreading for now.
Some things are easy to see and catch, others not so much. If you can get your manuscript flowing nicely it will be easier to edit. Then you have to find an editor who fits and this can take some work and lots of research. I’m not going to get into the research. This time it’s about the English Language you use and who you want as your audience/readers.
Most people write in the English Language where they grew up and were educated. It can, for some also be a second language. However, this doesn’t mean it’s the right English for your readers. If you’re aiming at an American Audience, then most writers would use American English, including grammar, spelling and punctuation.
What if the book is set in another country?
If you go traditional publishing they will generally set books in American English with dialogue in the English of the setting (Australian, British, etc). However, I think this is wrong. My thoughts are on genre as well as where the story takes place.
I’ll tell you why I don’t like the above idea. This is from way back when most books were traditionally published. I loved to read Regency Historical Romance, though many were a bit long winded. What a didn’t like was the fact they were written with American spelling with Regency words in place. Now…yes, I am fussy. In no shape or form were Londoners in Regency England speaking or reading American English in the early 1800’s. So why were they published like this? Simple, their audience/readers were American. It’s a pity they didn’t do a British version, mind that may have cost them to much and Traditional Publishers are all about profit.
With saying this, British authors or other authors who use British English due to setting do get the odd review from readers about how their books are full of errors. Those are the readers who don’t realise British and American English are different in spelling, grammar and punctuation. This is also why I recommend you learn what English you should use and also add what English you are using on the copyright page and even as part of the description if you’re self-publishing online. The difference is a bit of an eye opener.
English Spelling and Different Words.
What do you know of the different spelling and words used for the same item. Do you research what you need? Does your editor understand the spelling you use. There is quite a variety out there, however I will stick with UK, USA & NZ, mainly because these are the ones I use most.
Most New Zealand spelling is the same as British until you hit Te Reo Maori, which is an amazing language to use and write. What is different are the words we use. I can tell you now, going back thirty years and not only was it the words used it was the accents as well. Hilariously funny at times and embarrassing at others. I don’t think I’d ever rolled my eyes so much as I did back then when I was new to New Zealand. I remember once asking where the nearest ‘Chippie’ was. “Oh you can get them here,” and the young lad at the pub/bar held up a packet of—what Brits call Crisps, in the UK. I rolled my eyes, still not realising how different the language was. “I mean the Fish and Chip Shop.” Of course my future husband—a Kiwi, laughed his socks off (not literally). In fact, we didn’t even understand each other much of the time. I eventually became a Kiwi speaker, so much so, that when I visited family in the UK eighteen years later, my siblings kept correcting me. Annoying as hell, especially since they knew what I was on about.
Anyway, slightly off tangent there. In US English you’ll find the difference in spelling. I’ve always wondered why the spelling changed since a majority of colonists were English. If anyone can tell me, I’d be interested to learn. There are hundreds of words you’ll notice with different spellings. Things like COLOUR/COLOR, REALISE/REALIZE. Then you have the words. CANDY/SWEETIE/LOLLY…US, UK & NZ, and there are plenty more which I will list at the end.
First I’d like to get this … out there. PUNCTUATION IS DIFFERENT IN EACH ENGLISH SPEAKING COUNTRY!
Yes it is true, though some will slice and dice and disagree. It depends who taught you, where you were taught and in what generation you’re from. Then you have the accents used and how you speak or how your characters speak to each other. This is one of the many things you need to discuss with your editor. You can give them a generic manuscript which has no country setting as such which is when you can discuss which English you wish to use, remembering you also need to use the correct words. Many people know that US English uses more commas than British English. I have seen the different with Editing apps I use to help me tidy a draft novel.
I use Grammarly Pro. It can give you questionable suggestions and sometimes make you laugh because it’s off base with changes. So, if you’re using an Editing App, make sure your English is proficient.
Grammarly is set up for four different types of English Grammar. Uk, US, Canadian and Australian. Unless I’m helping a client, then I have it set on Uk English.
During the last week I’ve been going back and forth with UK and US English do to proofreading. You can see the difference straight away. One of my own books I’d used UK Grammarly on, was clear of errors, though I still had several steps of editing to do. I accidently clicked on my manuscript when working through an American Clients work and it picked up…over a thousand errors. I nearly panicked until I realised what I’d done, after which I laughed. Yep. It caught the spelling, grammar and punctuation but in American English. It just shows how different it can be. I was pleased I didn’t have to start over.
Different Words, same Item
|Chips||Home Fries||Chips or Fries|
|Off Licence||Bottle Store||Liquor Store|
As you can see New Zealand is a mixture of two English Languages, similar to Canada and probably Australia, though they both have their own Idioms There are so many which will confuse a person with the words used and their actual meaning being totally different. Many of these Idioms I had to learn not to use thirty years ago because they were just not understood by the local KIWI population. Then of course you have KIWI Idioms to confound visitors along with place names, many of which are pronounced in totally different way from what they are written.
Te Puke — Tea Pu Key
Petone — Pea Toe knee (Not Pet One as I’ve heard some Americans call it)
Bring a Plate — It means take a plate of food to share at a party, not take an empty plate.
See ya laters — They are not literally going to see you later the same day. It could be tomorrow, the following week. So don’t wait around and yes, people used to do this too.
You can find more
Kiwi Idioms HERE
American Idioms HERE
British Idioms HERE