American English v.s. British English: The Ludicrously Ludicrous

September 12, 2013

Hello fellow Junkies,

As you may know, I’m an Australian author, which means that I would—naturally—use British English (BrE) spelling conventions. But I discovered that a lot of my readership are actually American and that got me thinking. 

Before this light-bulb moment, I admittedly used some American English (AmE) spelling conventions in my books, and that was simply for the aesthetic value. I finally made my decision to actively start using AmE spelling when writing Dark Deceit, after all the book was set in Boston, so why not have American spelling?

That was where things got a little tricky. It was all well and good to say that I was going to use AmE, but I had no idea there were so many little rules and tricks I had to know.

The first, and major one, is the use of ‘u’ in BrE in words like colour, behaviour, neighbour, neighbourhood, flavour, colour, honour, rumour, labour and favour just to name a few.

Another is the past tense forms of some words. In AmE, it’s sneaked not snuck, drug not dragged, dove not doved, and gotten rather than got.

Then it’s the double consonants: dialed rather than dialled, traveled rather than travelled and my all-time favourite/favorite and most prolific in Dark Deceit: worshiped…with one ‘p’. It still looks really strange to me.

Spelling differences also came up. Story in place of storey when talking about a multi-level building, tire and tyre, plow rather than plough, fetus rather than foetus, center in place of centre, pried instead of prised and cozy v.s. cosy.

I'm kind of ignoring the 's' v.s. 'z' spelling differences, but some that I encountered included:

And lastly, we have completely different words for things. Here we have…

The 'hood' (AmE) is pictured here, not the 'bonnet' (BrE)

This is a 'trunk' (AmE), whereas in BrE, it's a 'boot'

The back of this truck is called a 'bed' in AmE, but a 'tray' in BrE/Australian English

 So, that's where I'll leave my little mystifying rant about the differences between British and American English spelling. I don't want to point the finger at anyone in particular for this, but Noah Webster, I blame you.

P.S. For a really extensive list of spelling difference, click here

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