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Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Which kind of English do we choose to write our novels in?

Upon waking this morning I noticed a comment on my blog. It was an unpleasant opinion about my writing quality and grammar from a fanfic writer somewhere in the Colorado Mountains.
Now lots of people have opinions about grammar and rarely are those opinions expressed in a positive way.
However this comment illustrates the problems that authors face today when writing fiction for an international audience.
Which kind of English do we choose to write in?
US usage is very different from English usage elsewhere in the world yet American Grammar Nazis no doubt believe that their grasp of their language is the only valid option - particularly if they have never travelled outside the USA.
UK English speakers and writers think similarly, yet their grammar usage and spelling is very different from US usage. US vs UK usage
Europeans, South Americans, Indians and Africans all have local customs when it comes to English expression and how to write the language.
In the US there are reports that English is diversifying, rather than consolidating as a language. Personally I love the languages of Baltimore MD, but I'm sure if we were able to read a book written in this sub-dialect few people would think it was spelled well, demonstrated excellent grammar or was especially understandable - 'ain't nuthin' is one of the memorable phrases I came across there.
In New Zealand we have our own well established idiom and slang which is different from everyone else. There is even a large NZ English dictionary. Australians who are our closest neighbours geographically and linguistically have different ways of using slang and English and a more American way of spelling. Fiona Lake's excellent take on Australian vs US English

AJ and I went to a lot of trouble to write The Secret Empire in US English. Which is our very general understanding of US English given that we are not native speakers, nor have we spent a great deal of time on US soil learning the language as spoken and written. Our understanding was supported by MS Word which has it's own opinions on US English usage.
No doubt the offering at http://www.grammarly.com/ could assist us as it checks grammar ONLY in US English.
However creative writing is not catered to by 'for business' grammar checking facilities. Try putting one of Robert Frost's poems through grammarly!

My current work in progress I'm writing in UK English - a language I feel more confident using.
Are these efforts to write in English from other places on the planet a waste of time?
Am I guaranteeing that I'm going to be 'wrong' all over the world?

My erotic novels are best-selling novels originally published by Penguin and written in NZ English which people here seem to enjoy. Would it be best to stick with our language - since it is what we know best and to hell with the rest of the world and how they use English?

There seems to be a tendency for US English speakers to critique writers whatever their nationality and declare that those writers use the 'wrong English' whilest ignoring the fact that the rest of the world don't have the opportunity or indeed the desire to learn US English usage.

I think that the dismissal of 'Indie Authors' as people who don't edit their novels could be in many cases a lack of understanding of the differences in English usage worldwide.

Personally I enjoy diversity in language and embrace all dialects of English with tolerance. I'm not going to critique someone because they don't write in my dialect.

Which English language dialect do you think works best for international novels?

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