Writers in the Storm

A blog about writing

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August 26, 2011

Whose English?

On Monday we'll have the other half of the Plot-driven vs. Character-driven throwdown with Fae Rowen considering character-driven writing.  Fae will also announce the winner of a six-pack of her hand-crafted cards at the top of Monday's post.

Today, we're happy to welcome you to another installment of Sensational Summer Fridays, here at WITS with Louisa Bacio.  Enjoy!

By Louisa Bacio

Thanks so much for having me on Writers in the Storm. I regularly read the blog, so I was extra excited when Laura invited me to be a guest.

Do you have a favorite or favourite phrase that you tend to use often? Do you like to be the center, or centre, of attention? As an editor and copy editor of English in the United States, part of my job is to uphold our language and its spelling.

But, what’s one to do when even “English” users can’t agree upon the spelling of a word?

Recently I’ve been working with Nina Croft with her breathtaking vampire novel “Bittersweet Blood” (isn’t that title alone just gorgeous?)  Since Croft is based in Spain, and the novel takes place in London, for the most part, the manuscript was filled with … British-speak.

Part of the editing process was to change the spelling to be “American-English,” which means dropping the u in words such as “colour” and flipping the r with words such as “centre.’’

Ironically enough, soon after I sent suggested edits over to Nina, I received copy edits back from Lucy Felthouse, who’s the editor of the anthology “Seducing the Myth,” which places an erotic twist on mythology. My piece “Lilith: In Her Garden” was lucky enough to be included among the two dozen selections. Anyway, Lucy’s based in the UK and guess what she did to my manuscript?

Yep, made it into English-English.

All my lovely zs in words were taken out, such as in realising rather than our more familiar realizing.

It was a touch of my own medicine.

Finally, I undertook editing the history of a well-known university based in the United States. When I sat down with the writer/editor and a representative from the publishing company, can you guess where the publisher was based? Yep: England. Two hours later, we had hammered out some style guidelines. And, I can promise you, there won’t be one flipped 31 August 2011 in the book.

So when it comes down to it: Whose English is the correct English? It probably depends upon who is being asked.  Do you have a "pet peeve" or expression that sparks the King's English vs. American English flames?

Seducing the Myth

Seducing the Myth: Myths and Legends with an Erotic Twist is a collection of 24 tantalising tales that lead you on a decadent journey through mythologies the world over. As well as stories from the popular Greek and Roman periods, this anthology will also delight you with Arabian, Arthurian, Hindu, Jewish, Norse, Slavic, Sumerian and Welsh myths and legends. Add in a delicious sprinkling of fairies, mermaids and ancient fertility rituals and you have a recipe for a wickedly erotic read!
In addition to Bacio’s re-telling of Lilith’s exit from the Garden of Eden, “Lilith: In Her Garden,” the anthology includes “Djinn and Tonic” by Lexie Bay; “Logan’s Treasure” by Lisa Fox; “Down By The Pool” by Lucy Felthouse; and “Saving Orpheus” by Indigo Skye.

About Louisa

For more thrills, check out Bacio’s f/f contemporary erotic Sex University: All-Girls Academy, which features another threesome scene. Her story “Two’s Company” can be found in I Kissed a Girl: A Virgin Lesbian Anthology. For a short erotic paranormal tryst, “The Wait” can be found in Rekindled Fire: An Anthology of Reunited Lovers.

In addition to writing and editing, Bacio teaches college courses in English, journalism, film studies and popular culture. Bacio also serves on the board for the Orange County Romance Writers of America.


Louisa Bacio

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0 comments on “Whose English?”

  1. Louisa, you tricky thing - I just noticed the 'favourite' in the first line - wondered why it looked funny, and looked it up (what did we do before Dictionary.com?) It's the British spelling!

    Glad it's you and not I doing this - it would make me crazy!

  2. Louisa, your post sparked an email to my Canadian CPs titled "MUST READ!"

    I need dual citizenship so I can pick my favoUrite way to spell words. Colour, humour, and behaviour pop on the page for me. However, I realize phonics fans shudder at the sight of realise. My preference lands squarely in the center on "centre." Perhaps I should go with what looks best to me and send an editor 'round the corner for a shot and a pint.

    SEDUCING THE MYTH? Added it to my "must buy" list.

    Thanks for a wonderful, entertaining, informative post.

  3. Glad to infuse some humor into our everyday language. While teaching copy editing, I've had students turn in articles with "mistakes" in them, and I have to explain that it doesn't really *count* because it's correct for the writers.

    LATE last night, finished up editing that history book and I actually found a 7 July 2011. Tricky!

  4. Great post, Louisa. As a Canadian (thanks for pointing me here, Gloria!) I add the u's and flip the er's. But Canada doesn't have the readership for romance that the Americans have, so I thought I should Americanize my English. My problem is consistency. I'm not sure if it matters so much whether we include u's, but I do think consistency is important.

    I'm with you, Gloria, definitely adding Seducing the Myth to my list too!!!

  5. Love this post, Louisa! As someone who writes for both UK and US publishers, I'm used to using both spellings, but agree it's a total minefield for editors.

    I'm so used to reading in both "languages" that I barely notice any more, either. It's just the way things are, I guess.

    Though you have to wonder who thought it would be a good idea to spell things differently anyway. It's probably a good thing they're long in their grave 😉

  6. Sharon,

    Definitely consistency matters. And, I always have to remind myself of the differences when I read Harlequin books that come from their UK office.

    I have some Aussie friends who are writers. I'd like to hear from them!

  7. Louisa--
    Great blog! I was just taking a break from filling out Harlequin's Art Fact Sheet form for an upcoming book, and the whole thing is done in English-English. It's all menu-driven, and some of the choices I don't even recognize. It's not just spelling, but word choice that drives me batty. This form is used by foreign editors to choose books, and it's designed by people in the UK and/or Canada, so I guess I understand why it's done that way.

  8. Louisa,

    As someone who traveled to London and giggled over the "car park," "Nappy Changer," and "the Lift" at the airport, it's lovely to have someone write about the differences in our English. (BTW, that's parking lot, diaper changer and elevator.)

    I love all the different words like Squiffy (tipsy), knackered and "crack on." But I did learn the hard way that saying "Bummer" was quite offensive (it means "a pervert"). I found the Brits to be "positively magic."

  9. I found this post very interesting as I'm from Canada. It took me awhile to drop my u's and reverse the r's. I think I've got it now. However, there's one little language quirk I have yet to break, eh. Yeah, that's it.

  10. Kara -- I hadn't even really thought about the different words used, but you're totally right! And, Jenny offered some great ones! I've heard "nappy" but certainly didn't know that about "bummer" (too funny).

    Barbara -- interesting that you've trained yourself to "spell" differently. Lucy can probably speak on language in the UK more than me, but I read an article this year about the english trying to keep some of our "words" out of their language.

    And, all the countries despise "email."

  11. Louisa,

    Being a Canadian living in the USA, it took me (and a flip of my laptop) a while to switch to American English.

    Here's a twist: I'm a French-Canadian living in the southern part of the USA, so phonetically speaking, the adjustment was tough.

    The funniest question I get asked here: You speak Canadian up north?

    1. My nephew moved to Calgary five years ago for work and loves it. He has definitely acquired Canadian speech patterns overlaying his native Southern California-speak. Very interesting!
      I was lucky to visit New Orleans for the first time this spring. Your accent would be perfect there!

    2. Carole,

      I can only imagine! And do you also speak French? We have a former exchange student who went to study in Canada, and she received a "resident" rate since she's French.

      Thanks for coming by,


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