|Translation: Come on, Australia!!|
Wednesday, December 7, 2011
Me no speak Americano...
Youse are a weird mob, ay. *
Most of the time we speak the same language, then suddenly we don’t. We have cultural differences as wide as the Pacific Ocean that divides us. Or the Atlantic, if you’re coming that way. I first realised this when I had a discussion with MC about wheelie bins here.
And now that I’m working with an editor and publisher in the US, it’s gotten interesting. I can handle American spelling. No worries, mate. I’ll cull the “u” from “colour” and switch the “re” around in “theatre” and swap the “s” for a “z” in civilisation, and she’ll be right. Or, if you will, bonzer.
(NB: I have never used the word “bonzer” in real life.)
I’ve seen enough TV to know that you Americans go to the bathroom instead of the toilet, eat cookies instead of biscuits, and you walk on pavements or sidewalks instead of footpaths. But there were a few little things that my ripper line editor caught for me.
Did you know that you go forward, backward and toward? You don’t go forwards, backwards and towards. Struth.
(NB: I have also never used the word “struth” in real life.)
A bit of background first. The book I have just finished line-editing has an Australian protagonist, which was bloody grouse.
(NB: I have never used the word “grouse” and neither has my character. He’s not a bogan.)
To start off with, the entire thing was told from the POV of the Aussie. Then my editor suggested alternating POVs with the love interest. Who is American.
I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Google Maps, Wikipedia, and the internet generally. Seriously, mention that a character’s dad likes to go fishing, and suddenly you realise you should probably be able to name the fish. Thanks, Fishing Minnesota!
My line editor also saved me from making a real clanger, when I had my American character mention a car park. “An American would use the term parking lot,” she told me. Of course you would! I knew that one, and I'm kicking myself for it!
And the best thing about my editor? She let my Aussie protagonist keep the word "arse". (As in, pig's arse, mate, you're having me on! Or not.) Because, I'm sorry, you can take my "u"s out of my "our" endings, and you can make me write "er" instead of "re", and you can take my "s"s and make them "z"s (which is pronounced zed by the way), but I have to draw the line somewhere. I drew it around my arse.
(Image not available.)
Ever found out that English is not the universal language it's cracked up to be?
Or, can you make any sense out of this pearler?
This arvo, Robbo the garbo -- he’s a bit of a yobbo -- come a gutsa on the lino and now he’s off on compo. The drongo.
* Yeah, not just the Canadians that do that!