Re: the Queen's English

Subject: Re: the Queen's English
From: Peter Kent <71601 -dot- 1266 -at- COMPUSERVE -dot- COM>
Date: Sat, 2 Dec 1995 15:17:31 EST

>>Diane Peters <dj -at- IBAPAH -dot- RAXCO -dot- COM> wrote:

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.<<

I agree; it makes no sense to create different versions of a product for the
UK, Australia, Canada, and so on, and I don't believe most people in those
countries really care. They are quite used to books, products, movies, and so
on from the United States. My books are sold in the UK, Canada, and Australia,
without modification, and I see no reason that they should be modified. And of
course many British books are sold in this country without modification, too.

(BTW, I do have a problem with the terms "America" and "American", though I
use them myself now and again. When I lived in Mexico I had a friend who was a
receptionist at a hotel in Mexico city. She told me that when guests would
call the reception and ask to make a call to "America" she would say, "You're
in America, sir; which country would you like?" I wish there was a convenient
alternative, as there is in Mexico: estadonidense" [I think that's the
spelling], which means "United Statien". Though that term's slightly
ambiguous, too, as the full name of Mexico is "The United States of Mexico".)

>>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.<<

BTW, the term pommie, regardless of it's origin, now means a Brit (as in
"bleeding pom", rather than a loyal colonial.
I have no reverence for the royal family, either; nor do most Brits. However,
as a matter of historical accuracy, I must comment on the term "our former
tyrants". Every nation glamorizes its history--"history is a lie agreed upon",
said Napoleon--and the U.S. is no different. The case for British "tyranny" is
grossly exaggerated. Most historians agree that the majority of the people
living in the colonies were not revolutionaries; perhaps one third were, one
third were loyalists, and one third were just keeping their heads down, not
much caring either way. If Britain had been truly tyrannical, surely there
would have been more support for the revolution.

And why _should_ they have cared either way? After all, the average American
(United Statien?) was no better off after the revolution than before. No
taxation without representation? Most Americans continued paying taxes, and
continued being unrepresented. For all the promises of the Constitution and
Bill of Rights, the United States did not become a true democracy (in the
sense that every adult is allowed to take part in the political process) for
almost another 200 years. Britain had a true universal franchise a couple of
generations before the United States. (And even now there's some question
about whether a nation in which most of the population doesn't vote is truly a
democracy, though that's another issue.)

In fact many in the United States were worse off; black Americans suffered an
extra couple of generations of slavery, thanks to the revolution. (100,000
people, including many free blacks, fled the U.S. after the war.) British
"tyranny" would have freed North American blacks in 1833; in fact slavery had
been outlawed in Great Britain itself in 1772, four years before the
revolution, and a move was afoot to outlaw slavery throughout the empire. The
treatment of Canadian Indians--remaining under British rule pretty much into
the 20th Century--was far better than that of Indians in the U.S.. Certainly
there were land grabs, but there was no organized genocide, as there was in
the U.S..

The revolution was made for economic reasons, by the merchant classes not by
the average American. In fact it was in many cases the _nobility_ who were
interested in the revolution, because they stood to gain so much... control
over North American trade. They would win continued slavery, even though
Britain itself was clearly on a road to emancipation; expansion to the West,
because Britain was restricting such expansion into Indian territories; and
restriction of foreign companies, because Britain was lowering the tax on tea.
That's right, Britain _lowered_ the taxes on tea! It's one of the great myths
of the American Revolution that an increase in the tax on tea led to the
Boston Tea Party. What the merchants in Boston were upset about was the fact
that the East India Company could now price its tea more competitively,
because the tax had been reduced on it! (The American merchants sold smuggled

Of course, I'm a Brit, so you might say I'm biased. Actually I'm quite
willing to agree that Britain exercised its tyranny over various
countries--what they did in Tasmania, for instance, was truly atrocious, and
the treatment of India was pretty awful. Of course Britain was tryannical; but
not particularly so in North America.

Peter Kent

PS: Oh dear, did I stray off topic?

Peter Kent: 71601 -dot- 1266 -at- compuserve -dot- com, 303-989-1869
Coming soon, an updated and revised Technical Writer's Freelancing
Guide. E-mail for more information. Comments/suggestions welcome.

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