Re: QUESTION: British vs. American spelling

Subject: Re: QUESTION: British vs. American spelling
From: Alexia Prendergast <alexiap -at- SEAGATESOFTWARE -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 20 Oct 1997 13:45:33 -0400


Well, I wouldn't feel oppressed, but it wouldn't surprise me if there
were people that did get offended. (Heck, read some of the Rebel/Yankee
editorials in the local North Carolina paper, and you'll see that
letting go of grudges seems to be against human nature.)

The amount of offense/distraction depends on your audience.
-Who is your audience, specifically? I would guess that a high-tech
audience is probably multicultural and, therefore, wouldn't notice the
differences as much. On the other hand, some audiences are very
nationalistic. On one of my jobs, it was an unspoken rule that you drove
an American car when you went to one of our customer's sites -- if you
didn't own one, the company rented you one. Right? Wrong? Ridiculous?
Doesn't matter -- in this case, the company felt that the potential
offense wasn't worth the risk.
-Is it a matter of "color" vs. "colour" or are there important
terminology/usage differences in your docs? (For example, you are
writing about car manufacturing and start talking about a boot instead
of a trunk.)
-How much is it going to cost? Is avoiding this perceived offense worth

If the differences were mainly cosmetic and my audience wasn't an
extreme case, I'd find it difficult to justify the cost of translating
the material. Instead, I'd just use language that was as generic as
possible (for example, no country-specific examples or metaphors).
Ideally, a generic, simplified English would serve all English speakers
(ditto for a generic Spanish for Spanish speakers, and so on). But,
since it's not likely that we'll agree on a generic English... and
Esperanto never caught on...


PS. This reminds me of something funny... My roommate was stationed at a
US Navy base, which was located near a Brit Navy base. The Brits used to
throw "All's forgiven, you can come back home" parties for the Americans
on US Independence Day each year. ;-)
Alexia Prendergast
Tech Pubs Manager
Seagate Software (Durham, NC, USA)
mailto:alexiap -at- seagatesoftware -dot- com

> -----Original Message-----
> From: M. Dannenberg [SMTP:midannen -at- si -dot- bosch -dot- de]
> Sent: Monday, October 20, 1997 12:06 PM
> To: TECHWR-L -at- LISTSERV -dot- OKSTATE -dot- EDU
> Subject: QUESTION: British vs. American spelling
> Hi.
> I don't want to get into this discussion, but I have a related
> question.
> Basically for me this is a non-issue of monstrous proportions. As far
> as
> the stuff I write is concerned, it boils down to spelling "colour"
> with
> "ou" and customise with an "s". I can't imagine anybody having a
> comprehension problem because of that. However, our management seems
> to
> think this is somehow very important and they've been pestering me
> about
> it quite a bit.
> The thing is, people from our American subsidiary have been
> complaining
> that the British spellings would actually bother American readers.
> It's
> not that people wouldn't understand it, but rather they'd be reminded
> of
> the colonial oppression they suffered at the hands of the Brits and
> that
> would somehow give rise to negative feelings that would then be
> associated with our products.
> Yes, this sounds like complete bullshit to me too. So here's the
> question I'd like to put to our esteemed American colleagues: If you
> read a text that uses British spellings but is otherwise completely
> neutral,
> a) does it bother you?
> b) does it somehow impede your comprehension?
> I think these questions should be specific enough to avoid any usage
> jihads. Then again, that never prevented anyone, has it?
> Mike
> --
> Mike Dannenberg
> ETAS GmbH & Co.KG
> midannen -at- si -dot- bosch -dot- de
> ~~
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