In Honour of the U
Few things piss me off as quickly as hearing someone tell me that it doesn’t matter where my story is set, and that it doesn’t matter that I’m a Canadian author, all written English should be in U.S. format.
I am here to tell you all that I disagree. Strongly.
Now, I have been blessed working with LT3. They will happily accept a Canadian novel, set in Canada or with a Canadian MC that is written in British—or, for the purists, Canadian—English. (See: Honour and Second Star to the Right) But I see a whole heck of a lot of publishers who are pretty adamant about the, “the only good English is American English” mindset. I don’t understand this. It quite literally baffles me. So, I’ve decided to investigate it by throwing out the comments/arguments that I’ve heard over the subject and seeing what bounces back at me.
Are you in? Cool… let’s do it.
- But American English is the industry standard.
For whom? Oddly enough when I do a Google search and type in American English vs… guess what comes up? Standard English. American English vs. Standard English. Does that mean that American English, if it is versus something, is not actually the thing in which it is, uh, well… versus-ing?
Yes. That’s exactly what it means.
According to “The Development of Standard English” by Cambridge University Press, Standard English refers to whatever form of the English language is accepted as a national norm in any English-speaking country. In Scotland, it’s Scottish English. In Australia, it’s Australian English. In Canada, it’s Canadian English, in the U.K., it’s British English and so on and so on. In fact, there is no official or central regulating body that defines “Standard” English.
- But American English is spoken worldwide.
English is spoken almost worldwide. But for accents, region-specific words and slangs, there is no discernible difference between the spoken versions of English.
However, I feel the need to point out that most non-U.S. countries favour the original, aka British, variations of English spelling.
- But the Chicago Manual of Style…
Was written by the University of Chicago Press as a manual for writing style with respect to American English. In the United States. Therefore, any point said following this statement is moot for the rest of the world.
- Okay, but it’s silly to put all those redundant “U”s in words. And what’s with the “C”s where “S”s should be?
Possibly silly, nevertheless correct.
See, here’s the thing… “we” didn’t put them “in.” They were always there. Noah Webster, Jr. (1758 – 1843), an American lexicographer and textbook pioneer (Wiki’s term, not mine), in an attempt to wrestle control away from the British ruling class, set about creating three books to be used in schooling Americans on writing and reading: one for spelling, one on reading, and one on grammar. His first, the spelling book, became the standard text book from which American teachers taught for over a century, and as it was reprinted and reissued, Webster began to subtly refine words, spelling them according to how they sound.
Take for example the word “defence,” which Webster altered to “defense” in support of the “ssss” sound at the end of it. Theatre and centre were simplified into theater and center (but not senter?). Sulphur became sulfur (but telephone didn’t become telefone? Ah… right… Scottish-born and Canadian-lived that inventor was). Plough became plow, axe became ax, catalogue became catalog, and flavour, honour, savour, saviour, candour, behaviour, colour, armour, demeanour, glamour, harbour and all the rest lost their u. Luckily, or unluckily as you may see fit, and although Webster argued in favour of the change, tongue didn’t become tung.
American English dropped the proper spelling and went with something else. Something simpler.
- Due to the country’s size and wealth, Americans are the largest consumers and, as such, they are the ones that should be catered to.
I can’t speak for everyone, and I don’t get a breakdown from LT3 on what countries my purchases are made from, but I will leave you with this image of visitors by country for my website so far in 2016. There’s an awful lot of flags here…
So, what do you think? Are you all for the standardization of using American English solely, or do you not mind the Us and the Cs and the hyphens?
Let me know, I’d love to hear from you!
Until next time,
AF Henley <3
Henley was born with a full-blown passion for run-on sentences, a zealous indulgence in all words descriptive, and the endearing tendency to overuse punctuation. Since the early years Henley has been an enthusiastic writer, from the first few I-love- my-dog stories to the current leap into erotica. A self-professed Google genius, Henley lives for the hours spent digging through the Internet for ‘research purposes’ which, more often than not, lead seven thousand miles away from first intentions but bring Henley to new discoveries and ideas that, once seeded, tend to flourish.
Henley has been proudly publishing with Less Than Three Press since 2012, and has been writing like mad ever since. Henley’s newest release, Wolf, WY hit the market on October 21st and is now available at your favourite online book retailer. Check it out on Amazon, or directly through LT3 Press. Wolf, en Garde, the second novel in the Wolf series will be released on May 18, 2016 and is now available for pre-order at a special pre-release savings of 15% off.
For more information, please stop by for a visit at www.afhenley.com