the Queen's English (was Re: "Proper use of commas in England?")

Subject: the Queen's English (was Re: "Proper use of commas in England?")
From: Diane Peters <dj -at- IBAPAH -dot- RAXCO -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 1 Dec 1995 13:56:27 -0700

In response to Colleen Dancer's message (included after my reply)
about the use of the serial comma, as well as other language aspects,
in Australia, Canada and England compared to the USA:

The "americanised" [sic] spellings you refer to in American English,
like it or not, *are* correct. The American software company, for
which I write documentation, successfully sells its products all over
the world. We have contracts with companies in nearly every country,
yet we have yet to produce software or manuals in every native
language. I suppose we could (given the budget and people power), but
we would now also have to include translations for all the new
versions of English that are now recognized as _valid_ languages, such
as Pidgeon English. Now there's a language that would send you
reeling! The international peoples who buy our software and use our
manuals realize they are buying an American product, and accept the
fact that most or all of what they get will be in the "President's

In addition, all of the products I've seen that are developed in
countries using the Queen's English do not include Americanized
spellings or punctuation. I've never felt incensed or self-righteous
about them. I am simply aware of and charmed by the differences. A
friend of mine, also American, feels differently. She is what we call
over here, an Anglophile, and she insists on using the Queen's English
to the point of ostracizing others. This is known as "putting on
airs" and is considered impolite and pretentious.

Your word, "americanised," is a bastardation in itself: the "a" for
one thing should be capitalized (even in the Queen's English) and,
I understand, use of the "s" and "z" are used *interchangably* in the
"ize"/"ise" suffixes. It was also my understanding that use of the
"z" is the form associated with a higher education. Of course, I am
not a *student* of the Queen's English.

Finally, if our friends up north and down-under choose to remain POMEs
(Prisoners Of Mother England), let them. I myself am a proud
decendent of the American Revolution from our former tyrants and feel
no reverence for the royal family, even though Elizabeth the Queen and
I are 8th cousins. (Yes, I have the pedigree charts to prove the

Even though your message steamed me and I have unleashed the above
outburst, I bear no ill will toward people across the pond, up north
or down-under. I have many friends in all those areas, including one
who (when in the US) would put her right hand over her right buttock
whenever the US national anthem was played/sung. I on the otherhand
would never do something similarly disrespectful in another country.
I get the feeling you folks consider yourselves quite superior, which
is a characteristic, no doubt, that allowed our ancestors the courage
and audacity to explore, conquer and exploit.

Concerning the use of serial commas in England, Colleen wrote:

> I agree that in Australia like England we don't use the serial comma
> unless necessary to remove ambiguity. However what will annoy your
> audience far far more is the use of American spelling. I know I detest
> it in manuals that I buy in Australia. I feel that if the product is
> going to be sold in Australia / England they can use the Queen's
> English. I would suggest that you can probably use your discretion for
> the comma, but DEFINITELY use the correct spelling for the audience.

> In fact my opinion long before I became a technical communicator was that
> if they didn't use the correct spelling then either they were
> incompetent or didn't care about the audience. Both great reasons not to
> buy the product. This has mellowed (lots <g>) but I still hate the
> americanised spellings in a manual for OZ.

> Colleen Dancer
> dancer -dot- colleen -at- a2 -dot- abc -dot- net -dot- au

Diane J. Peters
Technical Writer at AXENT Technologies (a division of Raxco, Inc.)
2155 N. Freedom Blvd., Provo, UT ph. 801.227.3775
diapet -at- axent -dot- com (cc:Mail) or dj -at- ibapah -dot- raxco -dot- com (Unix mail)

The road to enlightenment is long and difficult...
So, bring snacks and a magazine.

BTW: My views are mine and mine alone.

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