Re: US vs. UK English

Subject: Re: US vs. UK English
From: Geoff Lane <geoff -at- GJCTECH -dot- FORCE9 -dot- NET>
Date: Mon, 10 May 1999 10:56:01 +0100

stamankr -at- JMU -dot- EDU wrote:
I find this discussion very interesting, but I still have one lingering
questons: are not the differences between UK and US English far deeper
than spelling? Don't both cultures use very different idioms and even
differnet puncutation practices? Wouldn't these factors cause far greater
"intercultural communication problems" than spelling distinctions and are
these factors not the reason for which English websites should be
We most certainly have different idioms on different sides of the pond ("the
pond", Brit colloq "The Atlantic Ocean" <g>). Some of these are technical
terms. FWIW, I've even seen one 'transatlantic' meeting turn into a
four-hour fiasco because of these differences. Each 'side' thought that
they understood the other, and that the other understood them. However,
some terms meant their opposite 'across the table'.

More than twenty years ago, some idiomatic differences nearly got me
arrested in Miami. Since that day, I've been very aware that these
differences exist -- and very careful to avoid them where possible. For me,
it's definitely, "UK and USA: two countries divided by a common language".

But this digresses from the original question. IMO, the documentation
should match the interface (warts and all) but be localised for the target
audience. So, if you're writing for an American audience, then use American
English (but use the same spelling as the interface when quoting the name of
an application object). I've encountered this from the other end --
documenting an American application for a British audience and written
things like, "To change the background colour, click color ...".

Have fun,

Geoff Lane
Cornwall, UK
geoff -at- gjctech -dot- force9 -dot- net

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