Is that ever acceptable?

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Post by Guest »

So I read a post recently about using American spellings vs the British spellings in general sense for a whole book but I wanted expand on that a bit.

My question is how does that translate to something like my situation where I'm British narrating a Canadian character in Canada. Is it too confusing to a reader for me to use British terms in my narration but American/Canadian terms when the character is speaking? Is that ever acceptable?

Post by Alyssa »

I'm extra, so when I've written a British character as a US English speaker, I write British spellings/terms but only in their dialogue or if I'm specifically in their pov, to add their voice to the narrative. If I'm writing a non-pov/side character I may not bother writing it in because their voice isn't significant to the tone and I can simply tell the reader that this insignificant person is British or has (insert region) accent.

Really, this is a style choice. Do you want to write them that way or not? Mosy readers will likely catch that certain spellings and terms are only used in the dialogue of CA or US character and roll with it. Do what you feel works better for your character, and just keep the choice consistent.

Post by Caroline »

The question is too confusing for what? Do you have a reason for using two different versions of English in the same novel? If you don't, then any confusion is unnecessary. If you do have a reason, it might be OK.

Post by Ronna »

It's just not that difficult. We all read Harry Potter and didn't get tripped up over adding a few extra u's or calling a line a queue or a trunk a boot. Most of the reading population are fairly clever folk. Just pick a style and stick with it though, rather than shifting from UK to Canadian.

Post by Melissa »

If you were Russian, writing a book set in Canada for a Russian audience, the whole book would be written in Russian with dialogue possibly written in Canadian/English. If you then translated that book for Canada, it would be written entirely in Canadian English, which is most like American English.

So, if your main audience speaks British English, that’s how I would write your book. The Canadian character, I would make sure all thoughts and dialogue are written in Canadian English.

Post by Taylor »

Don't overthink this, it's not important (except when it is, and that won't be often) and you can fix it later.

Post by Victoria »

I personally don't get tripped up on different spelling, punctuation, or word usage because I know things vary from country to country and I often know what it meant. You can write it however you want, but here are some things to consider on why people advise you to write it for your target audience:
  1. It'll confuse your readers unnecessarily to jump around and they likely won't finish it if it becomes unreadable.
  2. If you are going all in, you'd have to have a pretty good idea of how a person talks from another area and try really hard to avoid stereotyping or misrepresenting, because different regions say different things or spell things differently. In the US, "honey, hon, and hun" are all used as a term of endearment but the spelling varies depending. Soda, pop, soda pop, and coke are all used in different areas for carbonated beverages. I was told in some Southern states in which I lived that "a Sprite is a coke, a Dr. Pepper is a coke, a Coke is a Coke, and a Pepsi is a coke." I say "soda" if I am talking about carbonated beverages in general, or the product name if I want something specific, but it shows somehow that I am "not from the area."
  3. Part of a copy editor's job is to make sure the work's formatting, word usage, and punctuation matches the rules of the target audience. You'd create a ton of extra work for an editor. If you opt to self-edit, you will likely miss things which can blow up on you.
  4. If you confuse the reader unnecessarily it can get you unnecessary bad reviews, which you do not want. If you get bad reviews for some things like theme or "morally questionable material," a bad review can draw in readers potentially. But if people write that you don't follow grammar or spelling rules people likely won't buy it or read it.
  5. There is also the fact that word meanings vary sometimes, and a completely inoffensive or mildly offensive word in one country can really offend people in another, also leading to bad reviews. In a society that is striving for inclusion, ignoring the differences that exist in different parts of the world is taken as disrespect even if it isn't intended. A publishing house will likely reject your work or have you edit it all out, and if you self-publish you'll get bad reviews for not knowing "the rules" or you could inadvertently offend an entire group of people by using a word you don't know is taboo. It is more easily forgiven if you write it towards a specific audience and it isn't offensive for that audience. People will laugh it off. You can say "it doesn't matter," but it will affect your ability to sell books and your reputation. Not to mention the possible global affects you don't realize are there. As a person with disabilities in close company I will poke fun at my own pain, and not use "person first language," but when writing for others I try to not use language I own for myself when describing conditions because other people might not perceive their disabilities the same even if they have the same laundry list of conditions. They are not me. They don't have to view their disabilities the way I view mine. And what I say about myself might harm others if people who don't have these conditions make blanket assumptions and start talking to other people the way I talk to myself.
Again, these are just things to consider. You might do quite well with your method. But it is often recommended that you figure out your target audience before writing for many reasons, and these are just a few for the grammar and spelling stuff.

Post by Lynn »

Choose either British or American English spelling and grammar for the whole book. When it comes to the characters, let them speak using typical idiomatic phrasing for their particular country.
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