Sunday, May 31, 2015
English - American, UK, Traditional, Something Else?
August 7, 2014
Since I ran into a discussion on people using American spellling and/or grammar rules versus UK spelling and/or grammar rules, I thought that the subject may make a good (or sort of good-ish) Bubble. Well, the fact is I can't always really think up what may or may not make a good (or even good-ish) Bubble. So, most of the time I end up writing a bad-ish Bubble and thinking that it's better than nothing (sort of/maybe not - who knows...).
I use American spellings (of course) because I figure if anyone from, say, the UK reads something I write they'll know why someone from the US uses American spelling. I see it the same way when I'm the reader and read anything (Hub or anything else) that has any UK spellings.
Maybe it's because I went to very old-school, American, schools; and I think SOME grammar differences that people think of as "differences" are more a matter of some changes in American English that have gone on after I learned a more traditional version of grammar. The majority of teachers in my grade-school days were very old fashioned, quite elderly, women who had never been married (aka at the time as "old maids") who, in some cases, were born maybe as early as the late 1800's, but certainly, in most cases, the early 1900's. (I know that makes me sound like I come from "prairie days" or something; but if you do math and subtract, say, 70 or 80 from 1950-something/1960-something you'll see how even younger-side "old maids" were older than my own parents (so you can imagine when the oldest of those "old maids" had - like - 1880-something birth-dates - so just imagine what they were taught in terms of grammar and spelling when they were in school).
Things can be complicated when writers use one or another different styles, whether, say, AP or some other, field-specific, style that may kind of eliminate a lot of punctuation anyway.
Then, though, there are some things that have been changed in American English that I refuse to use (and I don't care who likes it, approve of it, thinks of it as old-fashioned, or whatever else). An example is "having an issue" with some like, "If anyone wants cake and ice-cream THEY should get in line..." (that kind of thing). I don't happen to see an issue with using "he" in place of "they" in that instance; and although that's the latest, acceptable, thing (to use "they") - I'm sorry - I'm not going to use what I learned was poor grammar.
It's the same with what someone else said about using punctuation and quotes in a way that just isn't correct. (I don't know even know what is American or what is UK or what is specialized style on some things like that; but unless I'm writing something that requires some disregarding or conventional, written, English I pretty much stay with what I learned was "correct" (and more traditional) English (with, though, American spelling).
Then, too, if I'm writing on a more casual basis (as is the case with something like writing on Bubblews), I'm not above out-and-out intentionally making up the occasional word (like, for example, "good-ish") or breaking the occasional grammar rule if I think that doing that will better accomplish what it is I'm trying to do with a piece of writing. I'm comfortable with words, so I like playing with them if I think that will do one or another job more effectively. (I don't recommend "trying this at home", as they say. Well, correction, no. By all mean, try it at home. Just don't try it at school or in business - but I digress (oops,Over-Used Phrase Alert on that "but I digress.." thing. Then again, it can be difficult to sort out, say, some over-used terms/phrases from "oldies-but-goodies" terms/phrases and/or oft-used terms/phrases that are "oft-used" simply because they do their job so well).
For the most part, I don't go too wild with making up words and/or my own grammar rules (or deciding I won't bother with one type or another, since it's casual writing that offers me a little flexibility. For the most part, I aim (in my more casual writing, which is actually usually less casual than a lot of other, less writing-minded, less writing-engaged, people than I am) to produce what I think of as "decent and mostly/largely correct" spelling and grammar. Oddly, whatever spelling and grammar checkers I use often have far less of a problem with some of my deviations than I might think. Once in awhile spelling or grammar checkers pretty much hate some of my "creative efforts" playing with words. Then again, though, far more often than that there are those times when I'm writing something less casual and more serious, and the "brilliant" spelling or grammar checker doesn't even recognize some words from some fields and then suggests some real doozies as alternatives. I don't blame the spelling or grammar checkers (particularly the spelling checkers). One can't expect them to "know" absolutely every word that anyone is ever going to use.
Of course, what we pick up, in terms of writing, can also be influenced by what we've read over the course of our lives. Somewhere between classic literature and, say, historical documents, a whole lot of "extra stuff" has been dropped from using the English language; which, at least to me, has most often been kind of a good thing, but not necessarily always a good thing.
The point is, I really think (provided a writer is not bound by a very specific set of style rules) that using one's common sense and writer instinct, but also keeping in mind the aim (and tone) of a specific piece of writing, is sometimes the more "right" thing (or at least as "right" a thing to do as a lot of other choices as we write).
For the person who aims to produce solid writing of one sort or another, it can be an almost constant thing of trying to figure out how, when and/or why to drop some of the more traditional things in English (and "getting with the times") and when, instead, it may be time to preserve/protect the language, itself.
Personally, I draw the line on mixing the singular with plural and assuming that people can't be grown-up enough to figure out when, say, using the word "he" doesn't shouldn't be taken personally by all the "she's" of the world. It's not the same as saying "mail-man" versus "mail-carrier" or even "actor" versus "actress". I mean... I don't care who uses "colour" versus "color" or "humor" versus "humour" (consistency of choice is preferred, of course). I will never be OK with mixing singular and plural just because a) someone takes offense with a convenient use of the pronoun "he" and/or is too lazy to go with something like "s/he" or "she or he" (or "he or she") - and thinks that altering formal and correct English is the better alternative.
I just don't think that laziness is a good reason to break some of the grammar rules that are, after all, the building blocks of language that a whole lot of people seem to think has served a whole lot of people fairly well throughout history (American, UK, both, or otherwise). Besides, it's not all that difficult to figure out one way or another of not mixing singular with plural without eroding the fabric of the language, little by little.
By the way, if anyone wants cake and ice-cream he should go the nearest birthday party, I guess, because he (or she) sure-as-heck won't find any by sitting at his/her (never "their") computer and doing whatever it is he/she (never "they") do at their computer.
Oh, and by the way... The spell-checker hated "good-ish", "bad-ish", "humour", and "colour"; and it apparently "thought" I shouldn't have used "doozies" and instead should have used "doggies".. See? THIS is why just sometimes has to break the rules and do his own thing (as long as it is not mixing singular with plural).
Posted by ME Whelan at 2:00 AM