Saturday, June 4, 2011

More International Variety!

Following on from Wednesday and Thursday's posts, here are some more ideas I received from writers and readers with regard to international and American fiction.

In my current role in Afghanistan as an American officer assisting Regional West Command with future plans, I work in an international environment. The bulk of my colleagues are Italian or Spanish, but the plans I help write get submitted to IJC (International Joint Command) where the officer recieving my work is a Brit. He continually changes my "program" to "programme," "while" to "whilst," and "center" to "centre." He's been quite kind to me as a superior officer, but I find these corrections annoying, because he includes changing my American English along with real issues with the content of what is both are equally mistakes. But it so happens when I receive his tracked changes, I not only answer his concerns on content, I change all the spellings back to American.
By the way, the mention of the WC I work with reminds me of another subject: Pilot Officer, Flight Lieutenant, Squadron Leader, Wing Commander, Air Commodore, Air Marshal, and all the rest of the Royal Air Force ranks totally sound like they come from some strange science-fiction military to me. Like the wings a Wing Commander commands ought to be hunting down cylons or something...
- Travis Perry, author of The Crystal Portal

I think it's less of an issue than publishers make it out to be. Although, I did sit down once and read the British versions of Harry Potter after having read the Americanized ones...and some of it threw me for a loop. It changed a lot of the terminology: i.e.- snog, spotted dick, pudding...stuff most Americans don't know about. When I was reading them I was just starting to get immersed in the other English language culture, so I was quite naive. But basic spelling differences have never made a difference.
Deborah Long,

As a kid long ago, I cut my teeth on British children's fiction, so the punctuation and spelling differences stopped hopping out at me years since. While reading the Harry Potter books lately, though, I often found myself wondering about current-day English schoolkid slang. What, exactly, is "Wotcher" about, used as a greeting? LOL.
Inscrutable but great writers, those Brits.
Deb Kinnard,

I read Sharon and Ozzy Osbourne's autobiographies and absolutely loved learning the british phrases and how they differ from our own. I remember when I was much younger reading "The Shell Seekers" and wanted so much to visit the places she wrote about. I didn't find it any harder to read those books than I did one from Maine with its New England accents and cultures. My Daughter is a HUGE Doctor Who fan, and now is more comfortable with British literature than some American. It's like anything else, you have to get used to it.
Cheri' Horgan, (writing as JJ Jenkins)

It doesn’t bother me at all to read about non Americans. In fact, I quite like it. The spelling is sometimes tricky, but then, when people write in supposed dialect (for instance, Southern US or something), that often trips me up, as well. I’m interested in reading about other places and getting to know other cultures. But then, I’m a missionary and perhaps not a “typical” American.
Katherine Buehler

Love 'em!! Was raised with C.S. Lewis, Tolkien--and my all-time favorites: the Bronte sisters. And Jane Austen, of course! Have all the movies based on her books; including "Becoming Jane".
At this point, however, I feel the need to promote my own country's Christian literature, because America seems to have bought into that "going global" worldly attitude, and we seem to have forgotten this country's early ideals based on a spiritual foundation.
In fact, what ideals? We're so involved with writing "real" that we're losing that sense of "happily-ever-after" ideal. The kind that encouraged us and gave us options, and instead replaced them with discouragement, (depression?) in dark stories of drugs, suicide & dysfunctional families. Especially for teens.
It's my strong belief that mankind is made up of a physical, mental/emotional, and spiritual side. Much of the literature today either deny the spiritual side or eliminate it altogether. Now we're reaping the whirlwind.
We're told to respect other countries' sovereignty; yet where is the respect for ours anymore? Both from without, and within.... Many, in order to sound "fair" ironically use their freedoms to trash this country. (the likes of Michael Moore) Never mind we're still the most generous, welcoming country on earth.
For me, it comes down to promoting Christian-based, idealistic literature, no matter what country it comes from, (though it seems the U.S. is a last bastion.)
And unfortunately, it appears there isn't much coming out of Great Britain nowadays. (I know there are Christians there!) Instead, a sophisticated European attitude seems to prevail; of relativism, Darwinism, "Open Society" and other New Age thought.
But again, a lot of that could be the work of the media not promoting it.... If Christian literature is written--no matter what country or people it comes from--I'd buy it.
- Pat Iacuzzi,

I LOVE reading Brit-Lit, my fave! I honestly am not bothered by anything I read, because I'm reading it to feel the flavor of the British Isles. If an author doesn't mention the "Tube" or the "Lift" then I wonder why not.
The only thing I have found difficult to understand once in awhile is the occasional political reference. I have heard about the "Tories" but I don't understand what that means. And I don't even know if that's all in the past or if Tory references still occur today. And I know there is a Labor party, but other than guessing the meaning, I don't understand its significance.
Jennifer Fromke,

Early on, I decided to switch the language on my computer to English from the US. I figured it was just easier that way. And those few British things that still crept into my story, my publisher changed to American. I didn't mind. The dialect and rhythms were still there, which was especially fun with the Indian-accented dialect of the Indian people. I suppose as a Canadian I feel I'm sort of in between Britain and the US. I can straddle the fence a bit better.
Christine Lindsay,

I read almost exclusively British writers because I love the slightly slower pace and the emphasis on character and background. The thing that makes me want to spit nails is when a well-meaning editor has "tampered." I hate being "written down to." If they are eating biscuits, say so--don't let an editor turn it into a cookie. If they are playing football, so be it. if it's changed to soccer I'm completely disoriented. (Or disorientated, as they say.) For any book I write set in England I use British spellings as much as I can get away with— I figure if that's how it's spelled where my characters are, that's how it should look. The difference in double and single quote marks I can't control as the copy editor does them.
- Donna Fletcher Crow,

I am an American who has lived overseas, although only as an adult. I once critiqued someone's writing, "correcting" firstly, secondly, thirdly, to first, second, third, only to find John R. W. Stott using firstly, secondly, etc. Hmm. I must have been thinking American.
- LeAnne Hardy,

Just to add in another two cents, I guess the point of what I had to say is 'get over it' to anyone on either side who would waste time criticizing legitimate alternate spellings or cultural differences of either side. We should be mature enough to enjoy the very differences that add color and richness to life and literature, whether American or international. After all, no one forces us to read books written from another cultural POV. I can't even wrap my mind around picking through someone else's work of art to nit-pick 'Americanisms' or those of any other country. And my only reaction to such is that it is a great story or not a great story.
- Jeanette Windle,

Thanks to Kat Heckenbach who gave me the idea in the first place! And many, many thanks to everyone who contributed - this has been great fun!

1 comment:

  1. What a fun series! Thanks for letting me have my say. I love Jeanette's summary "Get over it." Right.