Wednesday, June 22, 2011

English in "The Colonies"

The past few days have been devoted to liposuction on a story that needed to be reduced in size by fifty percent. That challenge, however, was equalled by the need to alter the story's language so that it was appropriate for a British market.  The experience was frustrating and hilarious, particularly since the story in question is about contemporary tweens. Pop culture, sports, fast food: all these topics show up in my story, and the language describing them relies on regionalisms.

This morning I was sure I'd nailed all the problems. Fries had become chips. There was no mention of baseball. Mom was now Mum. Oh, and 4000 words was now 2000.

Feeling proud (sorry, feeling chuffed), I printed the story, and only then did the funniest error occur to me. I am a music teacher, and this story deals with music. But I had not thought to change the American "eighth note" to the British "quaver" or "sixteenth note" to "semiquaver."

Oh, well. I caught it just in time and reprinted. Sure hope this finds a home in a Brit-influenced land, but it was a fun experiment in any case.


  1. Congratulations, Anne, on getting it Anglicised. Did you use a particular resource, or do you know a Brit who looked it over for you?

  2. Wow, that must have been some revisions. Congrats on getting it done!

  3. Goodness, I didn't know about half of the things that needed addressing. Brava! I'm curious as well, did you know these things from personal experience?

    Congratulations and good luck!


  4. What a fun - and frustrating - assignment I bet! I've worked for a few clients in the UK, Sweden, and Australia (in addition to teaching in the formerly British country of The Gambia), and my husband is from a formerly British island, too. Aside from the extra 'u' and 'y' in everything, I still forget things like fullstop instead of period, trolleys instead of shopping carts, and prams instead of strollers. And then there are the words I've never heard before... :) And don't get me started on the dashes instead of quotation marks! LOL

    Congrats on getting your project done. All the best!

  5. Anne E. Johnson said...

    I mainly relied on my experience. I know lots of Brits, have read hundreds of British books and plays, seen hundred of British movies and TV shows.

    I did not change the punctuation; the editor I was marketing to was concerned only about content.