Would you believe this is exactly what was sent to me in an email last week!? After I finished chuckling to myself I considered the seriousness of the situation. The person who sent this to me did so in all good faith, trying to help me to save face in a writers’ forum; nonetheless the mail struck a chord with me and I wanted to share.

I’ve always assumed that everyone knows at some level that there are differences between US and British English; it’s easy to forgive the less common ones, like the swapped-round quotation marks and inverted commas, or like using a colon after the salutation in a business letter and not a comma, but surely everyone is aware that the British spell words with a ‘u’ where the Americans don’t. Apparently not.

This ‘lost in translation’ thing the US and British speakers and writers have going is quite remarkable (hence I’m remarking on it!). For my MA thesis I’m planning on researching and learning the differences between spelling, grammar and punctuation not just in the US and the UK, but casting a wider net and trying to pin down common usage in international English writing and compiling it. Whether anyone would find it useful I don’t know, but it would certainly sate my curiosity and make me feel confident in writing British, American, Canadian, Indian, African and Australasian.

I wonder what other gems are out there: do you have any to share?

Proofreader, copy-writer and copy-editor

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