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I am running a successful free promo with my first book and I received a 2 star review complaining about Commonwealth English and New York City's street maps discrepancies. For the latter I have never been to US, let alone New York but it's time to use New York based beta readers. 
Commonwealth English - the reviewer in question complained about dressing gown, flat and strollers - are they too bad?  What are the American words for them?
Any good Fiverr beta readers someone to recommend?
My stories are being translated (English is not my native language) and you'll be surprised that in Europe people in universities are being taught British English. Funny thing is that I hired two editors, one of them an American, the other one- British but it wasn't sufficient it turns out.
 

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It does sadden me that whilst the rest of the world is meant to blindly accept American English, Commonwealth English is frowned apon. I refuse to use American English. I was born and raised in Australia, we use British English and I won't compromise. I do put a note into my books to advise North American readers of this fact, perhaps some readers need to take off their blinkers and understand that the world does not march to the beat of one drum alone. (this wasn't meant to be in any way offensive to American readers and authors I assure you :D)
 

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What Michael said. But if your characters are American born and bred, I can understand readers having issues.

I have no idea what Americans call a dressing gown but a flat would be an apartment. TBH, I think of a flat as being one storey and an apartment more than one.
 

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Michael J Elliott said:
It does sadden me that whilst the rest of the world is meant to blindly accept American English, Commonwealth English is frowned apon. I refuse to use American English. I was born and raised in Australia, we use British English and I won't compromise. I do put a note into my books to advise North American readers of this fact, perhaps some readers need to take off their blinkers and understand that the world does not march to the beat of one drum alone. (this wasn't meant to be in any way offensive to American readers and authors I assure you :D)
What he says.
 

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Bathrobe.

No prob with lots of British language, but in a native of New York it would throw me off and seem improbable.

Maybe your character is a non native?
 

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I bet some Londoners would react similarly if they read a book written in American English that didn't accurately portray the streets of London.

London and New York are humongous cities with lots of readers. If you're not familiar with them, you're asking for trouble by using them in your stories.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
HSh said:
Bathrobe.

No prob with lots of British language, but in a native of New York it would throw me off and seem improbable.

Maybe your character is a non native?
Actually she is a New Yorker and that was what the reviewer wrote:" For a native American she uses a lot of Non US words" something like that. I went through 2 editing processes, lol!
 

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Antara Man said:
Funny thing is that I hired two editors, one of them an American, the other one- British but it wasn't sufficient it turns out.
I'd say next time, choose one or the other, not both. I grabbed your book and checked out a few pages (don't have time to really read it right now, I'm supposed to be writing!) and you have a mash-up of the two which can be jarring. For example right after using flat it mentions a "packet of chips." I've heard "packet of crisps" but no-one here (NYC) says that with chips, it would be bag or maybe pack. It's not really wrong and doesn't cause confusion, it just sounds off.

FWIW everyone I know says stroller, if we're talking about baby carriages (I haven't seen that part in context). Also the name Stephan Georgepolous cracked me up.
 

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Australians would definitely say a packet of chips. If you are talking about crisps. A bag of chips would be hot chips (fries).

After reading this post, I want to know what Americans call a dressing gown now. The only thing I can think of is a robe but to me, that's made of towelling not dressing gown fabric.
 

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Nightgown or nightshirt would probably be what you want.

If you are going to place a character in a country you aren't familiar with... I gotta ask why? Why not place them somewhere that you are familiar with?

I recently read a book where the main character was supposed to be in New York but I never believed it for a second. Everything about the writing and the dialog said England. Since the "American" was taken into outer space, there was absolutely no reason to make him an American in the first place.

Writing in an American character doesn't work if your character is driving on the motorway and enjoying a spot of tea and getting stuck in the lift, asking what people are on about. Just make them English or Australian or South African or Indian or whatever you know best. I don't believe American readers reject a book because the characters aren't American but they do complain about characters who are supposed to be American but order a hot dog and crisps from a vendor or complain about tearing a hole in their jumper.

If you must have American characters you really do need an American editor. But honestly, some writing is just so British, taking all of the British out of it would change the voice entirely. Why not own what you know best instead of hoping someone else can correct/diffuse your natural voice into something that sounds right to Americans?

I don't think most Americans expect the rest of the world to "blindly accept American English." But if you write an American character, you have chosen to tackle that beast. If you can't do it well, reconsider your choice.
 

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A big part of why I couldn't get past the second chapter of Fifty Shades of Grey was the use of British English for a Seattleite. While I don't expect everybody in the world to know precisely how Seattle lingo flows, at the very least, American English would have been nice.

You should write in the English your point of view character would use, not the English you would use. That means if you're a Commonwealth speaker and you're writing an American character, use American English. Otherwise, you run the risk of making your readers feel there's something very "off" in your prose.

In this day and age, when we all communicate with one another in real-time, there's no excuse for not understanding these slight variations in one language.

It does sadden me that whilst the rest of the world is meant to blindly accept American English, Commonwealth English is frowned apon. I refuse to use American English. I was born and raised in Australia, we use British English and I won't compromise. I do put a note into my books to advise North American readers of this fact, perhaps some readers need to take off their blinkers and understand that the world does not march to the beat of one drum alone. (this wasn't meant to be in any way offensive to American readers and authors I assure you :D)
Rich irony.

I don't leave any notes warning readers of my use of American English (as my default--if I am writing from a British POV, I switch.) I assume my readers are intelligent and observant enough to have figured out by now that there are a few varieties of English usage, that all are valid, and that since I use American English I am probably an American author, and therefore it's reasonable to expect me to write in American English. There is no reason for authors to get so bent out of shape over this issue.
 

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ElHawk said:
I assume my readers are intelligent and observant enough to have figured out by now that there are a few varieties of English usage, that all are valid, and that since I use American English I am probably an American author, and therefore it's reasonable to expect me to write in American English. There is no reason for authors to get so bent out of shape over this issue.
I guess that depends on who the readers are. I've seen fewer British or European readers not grasping the idiosyncrasies of American English than American readers understanding that there is more than just their own version of it.
 

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For me its not the lingo so much as the spelling. The moment I write "colour" my screen flashes red
and the flames of hell shoot out until I change it to "color".
As a Canadian I find this stupidly annoying. But I figure it's less of a headache if I just change these things to American spelling as A) most of my sales come from the States, and B) I tend to write and speak half and anyway and it's easier for me to catch the blatant Canadian spelling of things than the American ones.
 

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ElHawk said:
You should write in the English your point of view character would use, not the English you would use. That means if you're a Commonwealth speaker and you're writing an American character, use American English. Otherwise, you run the risk of making your readers feel there's something very "off" in your prose.
It's part of being in your character's "head" and if your character is American in order to deliver a rich American character, you have to adjust accordingly. I was raised by a Scottish mother, I'm Canadian but I watch enough American television to filter differences in language. But I'm still caught out by slang. The Scottish mum used "bloody" a lot.

There's nothing wrong with having a British character in an American setting which solves the problem.
 

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All my stories are set in America.


My first book was a learning curve and though I put it to an American editor, he left some of the UK English because the character, though born in America, had lived most of his life in the UK with an English mom and an American dad. His kids had spent their formative years in the UK Even so, there were complaints (since altered.) for such as "Fancy dress party v costume party etc."

I only use American editors and beta readers.

Readers are unforgiving both sides of the pond, but the British less so with the amount of US films over there. It's not just spelling and word choice that is different, punctuation is different, hyphen usage and singular v plural forms. eg The FBI 'is' as opposed to the British use of The FBI 'are' and much more.

There's no excuse in getting the map of a city & scenery wrong down to to street level if you use Google maps and street view.

For my shorts, I used to have two versions with links for the reader to make the choice of UK or US, but I've now deleted all the UK versions since I had a review that said I had included two version to increase the page count.... you can't win.

For my full length works, I publish two versions and restrict rights. Unfortunately Amazon give us only one option for choice of language ... English. The poor reader doesn't have a clue which English.
 

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The differences between British English and American English are far more than just spelling. Idiom, turns of phrase, grammar, word use, terms, syntax... they really are almost distinct languages. Unless you're really good at both, just write in your native language no matter where the POV character comes from. Reading a New Yorker using British English is far less jarring than reading a book supposedly written in American English that flubs AE constantly.
 

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Stephanie Marks said:
For me its not the lingo so much as the spelling. The moment I write "colour" my screen flashes red
and the flames of hell shoot out until I change it to "color".
As a Canadian I find this stupidly annoying. But I figure it's less of a headache if I just change these things to American spelling as A) most of my sales come from the States, and B) I tend to write and speak half and anyway and it's easier for me to catch the blatant Canadian spelling of things than the American ones.
It sounds like you are satisfied with the way you have it set up, but most word processing programs will let you select the English variation (or other language) that you want to use. Word, for example, allows you to choose English (Canada) under Options. Just so you and others know.

Betsy
 

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My English is generally American: I say elevator, subway and all that, but because I was raised primarily in Japan, I'm used to thinking in metric. When I write from an Amercian POV, I have remind myself to translate to imperial units whenever appropriate. And for the longest time, I had thought that "grey" was the standard American spelling. Whoops.
There's certainly no "correct" or "better" English out there, but in terms of character portrayal, it's best to use the English that the character whould use. (When I read Harry Potter, I deliberately avoided the American English version and read it in British.)
 
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