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British vs American English

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  • Rachel Thompson
    ... American ... Dear Todd, Your last message sounded very wounded. I m concerned that I may inadvertently have said something that you interpreted as an
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 2, 2000
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      > The can of worms is, of course, the differences between British and
      > English.

      Dear Todd,
      Your last message sounded very wounded. I'm concerned that I may
      inadvertently have said something that you interpreted as an attack on
      Americans/American English. I certainly had no intention of attacking or
      offending anyone. I don't mean to imply that Britain is superior owing to
      the fact that it has village greens(!); nor do I blame Americans (but rather
      "officialdom") for this expansive use of the word monument. So, no offence
      intended! I'm certainly not one to proclaim the superiority of British over
      any other form of English: I use it, and it's the form that looks most
      natural to me, but that's simply because I was brought up there, not because
      it's innately superior.

      As far as the differences between American and British English are
      concerned; I, too, enjoy them. I like the fact that when an American reads
      the sentence
      "Mr Jones puffed out his chest and stuck his thumbs into his braces" it
      sounds like he's picking his teeth, not stretching his suspenders.
      Or when a British reader sees
      "Since this was a very formal occasion, John decided to wear a vest over his
      the comical image of a man wearing an undershirt outside his shirt comes to

      My own view is that the nationality of the end user ought usually to be
      taken into account. My partner (who has dual American/British nationality
      but was educated in Britain) works for a translation company run by an
      American. The company's policy is to translate everything into American
      English, but to translate a report on a certain Czech football club using
      the word "soccer", when the report is destined for the club's British
      backers, is in my view somewhat ridiculous. I don't have anything against
      the word itself, but in Britain "football" is the most commonly heard term.
      For a US readership, of course, soccer is the correct word to use, since
      football there refers to what British people call "American football".

      Where the translation is destined to be read by people of various
      nationalities, (eg the translation of a website, to take just one example) I
      see no reason why the translator shouldn't use whatever form of English
      comes most naturally: as you say,
      > Let each one use the common language as he or she knows how!

      > This perturbs me about conducting this conversation by mail - I don't want
      > to offend you or anybody, or push anyone else's ire buttons.

      No offence taken.

      Best wishes,

      > Just this: no to language hegemony.
      I agree.

      How do the others on this list feel about this discussion? I'm concerned
      that it might be felt that Czechlist is the place for Cz <> En translation
      problems, not En<>En ones! If that's what you think, please say so!
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