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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
In my forum post on possible covers for my short stories, the topic came up about whether to use UK or American spelling for my title: "Strange Neighbours".

I understand why this came up - I'll probably be selling this on the American Amazon after all.  

My reasoning for this spelling is that my stories are written about South Africa, in South African English and as some others said in that conversation, the stories would probably be a cultural stretch for many readers in any case, never mind the title spelling!  I still need to make up my mind about this myself.

I did a quick poll in other social media networks, and came back with a lot of "Dont change it!  Americans think "ou" is classy!" type responses  :D

But leaving aside my particular case - what advice is there on this issue in general?  Which would you use?


 

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Use the spelling that is correct for the story and setting. Americans are not so stupid that we don't realize that putting extra U's in words is the British/Canadian/Australian/South African spelling. We're not THAT provinicial to not know that.
 

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If the word is in the title, I suspect most will get the message that it is UK spelling. Then they will accept whatever follows in the text.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Amanda Brice said:
Use the spelling that is correct for the story and setting. Americans are not so stupid that we don't realize that putting extra U's in words is the British/Canadian/Australian/South African spelling. We're not THAT provinicial to not know that.
True, Amanda. It's never a good idea to look down on your audience. Thanks for the reality check.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Imogen Rose said:
If you are using UK English in the book, using it in the title as well seems reasonable. Otherwise readers may be a bit taken aback once they start reading the book and it's different.
That seems sensible . But if there is a good reason to change the spelling of the title, maybe one should consider changing the spelling of the content too? (Says the writer who just sent off her entire ms to be proofread, and cannot make ANY MORE CHANGES)
 

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I find it very strange to read a book written by a non-American English-speaker, in a non-American setting, with characters that are not Americans if that book uses American spelling.

Use the spelling that is right for your story. If that is South African/UK/Canadian/Australian spelling, then that's what you should use.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Amanda Brice said:
I find it very strange to read a book written by a non-American English-speaker, in a non-American setting, with characters that are not Americans if that book uses American spelling.

Use the spelling that is right for your story. If that is South African/UK/Canadian/Australian spelling, then that's what you should use.
That was my feeling too. Makes sense, after all!
 

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Use South African spellings. :D

Otherwise, I'd use what's appropriate for where you live.  You'll probably get an e-mail at some point from a silly person who thinks you can't spell, but I've heard of that happening to both US and UK spellers.  And I've had it happen to me when I use archaic spellings or turns of phrase to fit a story.
 

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Remember, you can't satisfy everybody.  If you feel the spelling works, then use.  In truth, I've become so inured to non-American spellings that I couldn't figure out what was non-American about your title....
 

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Amanda Brice said:
Use the spelling that is correct for the story and setting. Americans are not so stupid that we don't realize that putting extra U's in words is the British/Canadian/Australian/South African spelling. We're not THAT provinicial to not know that.
I belonged to a rather large internet writing group where I was repeatedly told how I had too many typos in my chapters for them to read and would be provided a list:

colour
neighbour
cheque

etc

Used to drive me nuts, especially since I'd state "Canadian spelling". ;)
 

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I'm originally from the UK but have lived more than half my life in the US. Whenever I've written plays set in the UK (I'm primarily a playwright, just getting into fiction writing), I've always used UK English spelling and have never had a problem in 10 years of getting them produced here in the US. One of my short plays is called "An Embarrassing Odour" and I've had much success with it here - with that spelling of the title.

My book below uses all UK English spellings, as its main characters are English. In fact, I had, as part of my proofing, to go through and vet it for US spellings, as I've lived here so long that I lapse into a kind of Spanglish version of UK/US English when I write.

Stick with the spelling you have - everyone will get it and some will even be charmed by it.
 

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British and American publishers routinely change books for their respective markets. (The British do most of the changing, as there are more American titles published in the UK than the other way around.) It's not just spelling differences--neighbor/neighbour, pajamas/pyjamas, criticize/criticise...But actual words, as well--sweater/jumper, cookies/biscuits, pharmacy/chemist, and so on.

Someone went through the first four Harry Potter books and listed all the differences between the UK and US editions:
http://www.uta.fi/FAST/US1/REF/potter.html
There's a link on that page to a similar study of The Great Gatsby.
When you see these you understand what George Bernard Shaw meant when he called the English and Americans "two peoples separated by a common language."

The reason publishers make changes is that they've figured out that it's more profitable to tailor the texts to their readership. Taken to the extreme, this is why we have translations, no? :)

Like others have said here, most Americans will understand that "Neighbours" isn't a typo. If you're worried about possible confusion--particularly of the "elevator/lift, sneakers/trainers" variety--you could always take care of it with an "author's note" at the beginning of the book.
 

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I write in "Canadian," but I convert to American spelling for my American publisher, despite having my stories set in Canada. It's their ticket, so I'm okay with it. I have heard of people getting poor reader reviews due to "spelling errors," which were just UK English, so I feel it has advantages for me, as well.

My concern with the title would be whether Americans could Google/search for your title and find it with the UK spelling or not - but I assume most engines are sensitive enough to handle a little extra "u."

I did chuckle at the "classy" comment, by the way. Yep. That's us. Classy, classy Canucks, eh?  ;D

 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Hey - this has turned into and interesting discussion.
To be honest, my own spelling is so abysmal that the question of whether I'm using the UK or US system can sometimes be entirely academic. ;)

Mike McIntyre said:
Someone went through the first four Harry Potter books and listed all the differences between the UK and US editions:
http://www.uta.fi/FAST/US1/REF/potter.html
There's a link on that page to a similar study of The Great Gatsby.
When you see these you understand what George Bernard Shaw meant when he called the English and Americans "two peoples separated by a common language."
Thanks for the link. Of course Harry Potter would have been an issue. Never thought about it.

I am going to need to include a note prefacing some of the stories to deal with a couple of words in local dialect in any case, and possibly include some translations at the end of the stories for the Afrikaans songs and phrases that occur. (You can see the title is the least of my problems when it comes to being unAmerican :) )
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Hey that Harry Potter link is really interesting.  So many words I never thought of as "British" as opposed to "American".  And some of the changes seem simply arbitrary to me.  Odd!
 
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