ShadowsPale

Why do we do this?

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I was sitting googling for the terms used by the British for things like refridgerators, couches and what not, when suddenly I wondered why I was doing it. I am working on a Harry Potter fic which was why I was searching for the terms. It struck me as being very odd that as an American, I was trying to write a story as if I were British. I can understand writing that way for dialogue or thoughts but why for everything else? Every fic I have read is like this. Well, t not every fic; there have been a few that were clearly written by an American, but not many and none that were well written.

It made me wonder why people do this. I once had an American beta that changed spellings to match the way the British spellings. What is wrong with wording something like this:

"Where did these denims come from?" Harry asked, staring at the jeans lying on his bed with a frown. He had never seen a pair so oddly colored.

"I don't know," Ron said, wiping away cookie crumbs from his chin. "They were there when I got back from the library."

"Ron, did you take the biscuits, Grams sent me?" Neville asked, his voice muffled as his head was under his bed where he was searching for his lost treat. "I can't find them now." Ron quickly hid the cookies in his hand behind his back.

"Say, Harry, what colour would you call that? It looks a bit like strained carrots mixed with mashed peas," Ron said in an attempt to change the subject.

Searching for the terms can be difficult but I don't mind doing so. I was just wondering why it is done.

Its the same with the word "gotten". I have yet to met an American that doesn't use the word, but I never see it used in anything written for Harry Potter. I know the British do not use the word but I don't understand why Americans avoid using it.

Does anyone care to explain this to me?

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To be honest, as a reader, it's distracting. If I were reviewing that, I'd ask you to pick a colloquial and stick with it. I'm tossed back and forth between British and US American -isms and it detracts a bit from your story, because I'm thrown out of the flow while my brain tries to reconcile US and British terms.

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It's one of those continuity things - You're writing in a British fandom, so it is appropriate to use the correct terms to be accurate with how the characters speak. Now can you write it with just American slang and terminology? Of course, always an option as well! I do however agree with Rogue, I would prefer on or another.

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Blimey, Harry!

Come on, who doesn't love that quote? If you could manage to get close to J.K. Rowling's British style, it'd make the story more believable and the characters would fit more into their own role.

I want to know, though, do you feel the same applies with foreign languages? When people watch dubs, generally they pick up the words and integrate them into their story. I find it partially annoying, since we are attempting to write in English. Sure, there are some words that we all know from certain languages, like numbers in Spanish, but to use any amount of foreign language in a story, should it even be attempted?

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Well i'd like to say i do it for authenticity but I'm british so its just called 'writing normally' for me.

But i have been known to wonder and rephrase things based on whether i think they're authentically British and late 90s teenagers would say or do them or if they're stuff I've picked up from the saturation of imported american culture over our own roots.

Dang, that makes me sound so snooty.

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Not at all... we're just infectious. ::grins::

I on the other hand pride myself on speaking, reading, and writing both English and American.

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I find it personally quite difficult myself, as my mother tongue is not English. I was taught British English, but I grew up watching American TV shows and movies, so my natural "English" is a mishmash of the two. Which I was apparently just informed is jarring to the reader. Welp, that explains a lot.

You don't even want to know about my accent. Trust me.

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Now that I think about it, its not only Harry Potter fics as I thought. I just realized it but Inuyahsa is the same, only Japnese instead of Briish. I guess I never noticed until now because Harry Potter is the only non-American fandom I feel comfortable attempting to write. I have used the words "bloody" and "bleeding" all my life and I was always being scolded in school because I would spell gray as grey. I have no idea where I picked this up but I astonished to learn they weren't considered to be American.

Oddly, I think I knew the answer to my question but didn't realize it until it was answered here.

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Does that bother anyone? I've probably written it both ways without noticing....

Never mind... Gray is much easier to type.

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Interestingly enough, the word gray, where not used as a color, is this. Mind you, when looking up the word grey or gray (for the color), the first word that pops is the spelling with 'e'. It's just in THIS country that the 'a' is more accepted. For that matter, this wikipedia article explains it all nicely.

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Guest Robin_Mask

Does that bother anyone? I've probably written it both ways without noticing....

Never mind... Gray is much easier to type.

Are you American? I wonder if it's easier to type 'gray' rather that 'grey' as it's what you're used to. I tend to touch-type, so writing 'grey' is more natural for me as I don't have to think about what I'm typing . . . personally 'grey' looked better aesthetically to me anyway :)

In response specifically to the OP . . .

I'd agree with everyone else to pick either American or British English and stick with it. I personally don't object to American English in a Harry Potter fanfiction, because as long as the fiction is written well then that should be all that matters, and no one type of English should be more 'correct' than any other. I only object when American authors set the story with aspects of American culture. I find it fine if Harry picks up a pair of 'pants' instead of 'trousers', because most people are aware of American English and know what is meant . . . but when an author writes about P&J sandwiches and garbage disposals and mail boxes . . . suddenly it's as if they haven't put in the effort to even try and learn about the fandom or culture they're writing about, and it's so jarring as a British person to read, and alienating too.

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In response specifically to the OP . . .

I'd agree with everyone else to pick either American or British English and stick with it. I personally don't object to American English in a Harry Potter fanfiction, because as long as the fiction is written well then that should be all that matters, and no one type of English should be more 'correct' than any other. I only object when American authors set the story with aspects of American culture. I find it fine if Harry picks up a pair of 'pants' instead of 'trousers', because most people are aware of American English and know what is meant . . . but when an author writes about P&J sandwiches and garbage disposals and mail boxes . . . suddenly it's as if they haven't put in the effort to even try and learn about the fandom or culture they're writing about, and it's so jarring as a British person to read, and alienating too.

As an American, I find it just as jarring and off-putting. And honestly, if you've read all of the books as avidly and repeatedly as many of the authors seem to have done, there really is no excuse for superimposing American cultural norms on a story set in England. No one is asking you to study the entirety of British history and develop an urgent need to take tea at Brown's. Just use the terminology that Ms. Rowling oh-so-helpfully uses already in her books.

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"take tea at Brown's" is also a euphemism for a somewhat unhygenic act.

::wags finger:: And there goes high tea for the conceivable future... I suppose I could use the reduction in sweets.

Edited by BronxWench

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I am an American, raised and educated in the UK, writing an AU Sci-Fi fanfic based on a Japanese fandom (Naruto) and my beta is American. I believe most of my readers are in the US - that is certainly true for the edited version I post on FF where the show a country-by-country breakdown.

I write in British English most of the time. I find that my American readers are fine with UK spellings and with most UK grammar. Occasionally I avoid grammar that my American beta finds odd, for example in British English we still use spilt and spilled (she spilled the milk, the milk was spilt) but I only use spilled in the story.

Then there are some British nouns I know American readers will struggle with so I use the American version, which British readers are familiar with. Two examples are faucet (tap) and diaper (nappy).

The great thing about writing is that you get to choose. So, for this story I use a scatter of Japanese terms, some American, mostly current British and a handful of made-up or differently-applied words to remind the reader that this is a future world rather than the one they are living in.

I believe the trick is consistency. You create the terminology of your world and you stick to it. Certainly this is what JK Rowling does.

So, going back to the first posting in this thread, I would only have the dialogue in a different vernacular to the surrounding text if I was showing that the speaker was an outsider.

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Are you American? I wonder if it's easier to type 'gray' rather that 'grey' as it's what you're used to. I tend to touch-type, so writing 'grey' is more natural for me as I don't have to think about what I'm typing . . . personally 'grey' looked better aesthetically to me anyway :)

In response specifically to the OP . . .

I'd agree with everyone else to pick either American or British English and stick with it. I personally don't object to American English in a Harry Potter fanfiction, because as long as the fiction is written well then that should be all that matters, and no one type of English should be more 'correct' than any other. I only object when American authors set the story with aspects of American culture. I find it fine if Harry picks up a pair of 'pants' instead of 'trousers', because most people are aware of American English and know what is meant . . . but when an author writes about P&J sandwiches and garbage disposals and mail boxes . . . suddenly it's as if they haven't put in the effort to even try and learn about the fandom or culture they're writing about, and it's so jarring as a British person to read, and alienating too.

To the first part: Yes, but I'm more of a lover of the British style of writing anyways. The reason I prefer gray to grey is because of the way I type. My left hand's ring finger is.... (there's a musical term for this!) Damn. I was going to give a term and leave it at that. Suffice to say that when my fingers are positioned on the keyboard, my left pinky and ring finger do not fit correctly and cannot reach the upper row of keys. So, when typing grey, you would generally use your pointer on 'g', middle on 'r' and ring on 'e', then finish it with your pointer on 'y'. Except that my ring cannot hit that key without extra timing issues, which is just more of a hassle because who wants to waste two seconds hitting an 'e' over the 'a' right below it where my ring finger rests?

To the second: I'm more traditional with that. I enjoy the ability for an author to keep the writing in English more than it's American English (or American slang) counterpart.

If they really want to use the HP universe, have Harry Potter and write American, set the story through an American wizard's eyes. I believe that's an acceptable use of an OC, when you are unable to match the original author's writing, so using an OC with different thoughts, wordings, phrases would be a good supplement.

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That's the thing with those of us from the UK, as some American TV shows has made it over here - we're starting to pick up the way Americans talk.

But our British slang (bloody hell, balls, oh 'eck) has also made it's way into some Americans vocabulary - especially with Harry Potter being British. I know when talking to some of my American friends, I can come out with some right corkers that they then have to ask me what I mean. And with slang - it varies from region to region, something you'd hear in London you might not hear further up north of the country.

Like Daye - British English is my norm, I've had someone from America ask me "what is a University?" in a review recently, something I never thought I'd have to explain to anyone..

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So, when typing grey, you would generally use your pointer on 'g', middle on 'r' and ring on 'e', then finish it with your pointer on 'y'.

Except typically you would use your pointer on 'g' and 'r,' then your middle on 'e' and pointer again on 'y'....

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greygreygraygreygreygray

That's impossibly awkward for me... Maybe I've just been taught wrong, but for some reason, I can't mange that.

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Guest Robin_Mask

Except typically you would use your pointer on 'g' and 'r,' then your middle on 'e' and pointer again on 'y'....

Is that starting with the resting position of the left pointer on the 'f' key and the right on the 'j' key?

It might be that my personal typing differs considerably to any conventionally taught methods . . . but I instinctively type the 'r' with my middle finger. It feels incredibly awkward to type 'grey' or 'gray' that way for me, too . . . I have to say that Ajwf's methods seems a lot easier . . .

Edited by Robin_Mask

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If you learned to touch type, left pointer is for f,g,r,t,v,b and right pointer is for j,u,m,h,y,n. yes, that's f as rest position for left pointer and j as rest position for right pointer.

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Is that starting with the resting position of the left pointer on the 'f' key and the right on the 'j' key?

It might be that my personal typing differs considerably to any conventionally taught methods . . . but I instinctively type the 'r' with my middle finger. It feels incredibly awkward to type 'grey' or 'gray' that way for me, too . . . I have to say that Ajwf's methods seems a lot easier . . .

Yes, that proper typing like you would see if you took a typing class - The method puts the least amount of stress on fingers and wrists and uses the least amount of movements to type a word. Just like handwriting, many people adjust for personal preference over the years as they become more comfortable, but I was taught the way people were back when typing was a class and typewriters were used. My mother originally taught me on an old type writer we had and it's just stuck ever since.

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