Saturday, 8 June 2013

Lost in Translation #1


I'm not talking the movie with Scarlett Johannson and Bill Murray here although I am using it in the banner above. I am talking about cultural differences ~ especially in books. Mainly between English and American English - two nations divided by a common language.


For those of you who've missed me stating this before or haven't read my bio - I'm English. I live in the original Worcester, in the middle of the country which is why my series is set here and why sometimes things the characters do, say or refer to may be misunderstood. This series of blogs (from here after a Friday feature) will go on to explain differences to my American readers. One thing I have always been adamant about with my editors (and I'm sure several will agree what a pain in the ass this makes me) that British Characters should use British words and terms for things. Where as our culture is saturated with what we deem "Americanisms" we do in fact have our own under there somewhere.

I thought for the first one I would start with something simple. So here goes.

Pavement


This is a typical residential street in the UK. The pavement is not the bit in the middle, we refer to this usually as the road or in some cases the tarmac. The pavement is the narrower bit to the sides edged by the curb that the pedestrians walk on. In America this is referred to as the "sidewalk". So if Cassandra or someone else states that they are going to "hit the pavement" or they are walking on the pavement it does not mean that they are carelessly walking down the middle of the road playing chicken with the traffic. :)

If you have any suggestions of British terms you would like explained from my books or just in general, please contact me and I will add them to the list I am creating. You can contact me either using the contact me form above or you can email me at sonnetodell@hotmail.com.

2 comments:

  1. LOL, Sonnet, this will be a huge undertaking! I was amused that a few years ago, Portugal and Brazil were arguing about whose version of Portuguese was correct...one would expect that the country whose name has the language in it, who spoke it first, would of course win.

    But that would mean that if England and the US were ever arguing over that, YOUR words and phrases, along with pronunciations, would have to win, and we all know THAT won't happen!

    Having grown up with a faither from Glesga, I thought everyone used the same words he did. Imagine my surprise to learn that I was almost bi-lingual...heh,heh.

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    1. lol. I know, but its not designed as a competition. People use the words that are right for them, each country that adopts a language tweaks it to make it their own. This is more a compare and contrast, as I said some people have told me they don't understand what certain words I use are - I'm just explaining them and displaying the equivalent to help cement the explanation.

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