Tuesday, October 11, 2016

TIP TUESDAY: THOSE PANTS ARE GRAY OR THOSE TROUSERS ARE GREY

Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

If you're publishing a book in the United States, then you need to use American English spellings and conventions. The bible of U.S. book publication, The Chicago Manual of Style, states that American publishers change British usage to American usage, unless the word is in quoted material or you're J.K. Rowling about halfway through writing the Harry Potter series.

Let's talk about spelling today.

I think most of us know the difference between color and colour. Our British--and Canadian--friends use neighbour, flavour, litre, meagre. In the U.S., we've dropped that "U" and changed the "-re" to "-er." A British spelling we often co-opt is theatre. Maybe some theaters think it makes them fancy-schmancy to be called theatres. A former friend in Illinois once told me that theatre is the correct spelling, and no, that's not why she's my former friend.

But some spellings are not as well known. When I edit, I see many errors in books with gray spelled as grey. We're gray. They're grey. The next one might be more of a usage issue, but it also falls under spelling. We go toward the chocolate bar in the kitchen. They go towards the tea kettle in the kitchen. Toward written as towards is another common mistake.


Now here's a spelling many Americans use––and you might disagree with me about it––but both the Associated Press and Chicago insist on adviser, not advisor. But hey, if you're not writing a book for publication, then go ahead and consult with your advisor. It's no skin off my . . . teeth.

Here's a Web site you might find handy: https://goo.gl/vEUba9 has a list of American v. British spellings along with some rules and other resources.

Happy Writing!


Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug

I'm touched––and not by Donald Trump––that so many of you expressed concern for our welfare during Hurricane Matthew. Thank you.

Fishducky sent me this link and told me that everyone should read this blog post:


http://www.peopleiwanttopunchinthethroat.com/2016/10/we-have-power-use-it.html

If you're a committed unto death Trump supporter, then you can read it if you want to get even more angry. However, if you want some affirmation for your support of Secretary Clinton, then you'll find it here. More important, if you're undecided or think that you won't bother to vote because you don't like any of the choices, then please read the post. It might help you understand the importance of voting for Hillary Clinton.

And for God's sake, don't vote for Gary "What's Aleppo?" Johnson.

Please.

41 comments:

  1. Most Canadians follow many British usages but we all use American spellings for some words -- like bank, tire, aluminum and mommy. We also tend not to use the archaic "ae" as found in encyclopaedia, for example. So we take freely from both you Yanks and the Brits when it comes to spelling.

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    1. Thanks for the information, Debra who never ceases seeking.

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  2. Another great tip post. I had no idea about advisor/adviser divide and I have always been confused on which grey/gray is correct. My only lingering question is, why the ellipsis before "teeth?"

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    1. Ellipses before teeth? Because you are a smart . . . y pants.

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  3. Hi Janie - glad you're safe.

    Re the spelling - always interesting to have things set out for us ... I guess when the time comes I'll need to make sure I get the words right .. for the American market ...

    Cheers Hilary

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    1. Or hire an editor, maybe one named Junebug, who will make the corrections for you.

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  4. That chart of American vs. British spellings is fascinating. I wonder if I was British in a former life, because I am guilty of using several of their versions of things including grey. Bloody hell.

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    1. You were British in a former life, Tamara. I saw you at the court of Henry VIII. In a former life, I was the other Boleyn girl. Don't feel bad about grey. I see it all the time.

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  5. I was always getting in trouble in school for not using the American spellings. Spellcheck fixes it now for my books, but I still use a lot of phrases that are extremely English/Irish and never realize it until a reader is like wtf does that mean.

    I got into an argument with Bossman just the other day over the spelling of judgement. ..

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    1. judgment

      Are you of English/Irish ancestry? Your family might have ways of saying things that have filtered down to you. I tended to say some phrases in a different way than the other kids in Kansas because my mom was from Minnesota and was a first-generation American whose mom was from Norway.

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  6. That's a great article.
    I'm always confused by gray v grey and toward/s. Now I'm more confused. It's fine to use the British and Canadian spellings if we're embarrassed to be Americans, eh?
    Stay well.
    Love ya.

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    1. If you're writing for publication in the U.S., then I feel confident that your editor will point out the error of your ways. All right?

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  7. I feel so smart. This never happens!!!!! I knew the right way when I saw it in my blog roll. This will never happen again so I'm savoring the win. ;p

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    1. Go, Sonya Ann! Be aggressive. Be passive aggressive.

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    2. Passive aggressive is too much work for me. I'm straight up aggressive.

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  8. The following personal thoughts are those of a non-professional writer, so everyone, please pay attention to what Janie says! Back in the dark ages when I was in grade school (1960s), we were taught that both grey and gray were proper American English. For some reason, my preference since age 6 is grey. Regarding pants and trousers - pants means underpants in British English and I believe trousers work the same in Britain or the US, but stay away from grey underpants in either nation!

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    1. You've brought up a good example of different meanings. That's something I want to get into in another post. Gray undies mean you don't wash your whites properly, but grey it is for you. I don't remember being taught gray or grey.

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  9. I've always leaned heavily towards British spelling since I was a kid. Past lives? Read a lot of British authors when I was growing up? Not sure why, but I discovered even more of my British spelling preferences when the age of computers and spell check came into my life. LOL! :)

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    1. When I read a lot of British books I tend to forget the American punctuation rules.

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  10. Some stuff there I didn't know. Thanks. But I prefer "grey" and "theatre" -- spell-checker catches theatre -- and use them regardless of what's proper here in the USA, just to be obstinate.

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    1. That's you: Not The Silver Fox, The Obstinate Fox.

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  11. Junie B Janebug!You made my day,
    As I was never sure if it was gray or grey!!!!

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    1. How does the world turn without me? I should not sleep at night because my services are required.

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  12. Hillary has my vote.
    Good info on gray and grey. I tend to get those confused.

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    1. Thank God (not about gray and grey). If one more person tells me, I don't like either one so I'm not going to vote, I shall become quite grouchy.

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  13. Did you notice the chart says "ence vs. enze" but actually shows "ence vs. ense"?

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    1. I noticed it after you pointed it out. You're the leader of the flock.

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  14. You know it is a pet peeve of mine that the computer is usually set for the American dictionary I make sure mine is set for British but would prefer if we could set if for Australian which is petty much the same as British but with some differences.

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    1. I wonder if there's such a thing as a program with Australian speak. If there isn't, there damn well should be!

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  15. Well, being a Canadian, there's certainly a lot of 'ou' in my vocabulary. But looking at the list from that link, it looks like in addition to using British spelling, I'm also using American spelling. Shamelessly, I might add :)

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  16. Also, I LOVED that blog post you shared a link to! LOVED IT!

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  17. I seriously have always had trouble with that whole "gray/grey" thing. Thanks for pointing that out.

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  18. I use a couple of these British spellings because they make more sense to me - especially the -gue family. I also write(and say) 'dreamt' and maybe 'burnt', but not 'learnt'.

    Also, I always assumed judgement was the "correct" spelling until I started working at a law firm. Still looks odd to me without that extra 'e'.

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    1. The United States has stolen that "e."

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  19. Help me, Janie, help me! I have two burning editorial questions for you. I suspect both reflect differences in American vs British usage, but I don't know for sure. Anyway, at the moment I'm reading "Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children" (fab book, beautifully written, by the way) and two things are driving me nuts:

    (1) To me, the past tense of "shine" is "shone" as in "the sun shone brightly yesterday." Yet the author of this book writes "the sun shined" on a couple of occasions, no less, and it makes me want to claw the word right off the page. Do you Americans really say "shined"?????

    (2) You know when people are agreeing with someone's statement and they say "hear, hear" -- well, this author wrote "here, here." Surely that CANNOT be correct. I've read a lot of parliamentary proceedings in my time (gawd help me) and I know for a fact that all expressions of approval are routinely summarized as: "Some honourable members: hear, hear!" What are you Yanks up to with this "here, here" nonsense?

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    1. Do not fret, Debra. I am here, here for you, but it's "hear, hear," as in "hear him." Is "here, here" used in some unusual context that would make it correct? Shined and shone is kind of an iffy thing. I don't know what Chicago prefers, but usually it's shined if there's an object and shone if there isn't. For example, "I shined my shoes," and "The sun shone." I've heard of that book but haven't read it. I'm a bit befuddled by these editorial choices, particularly "here, here," which is definitely incorrect. The sun shined isn't as big a deal.

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    2. Thank you for clearing up those points, Janie. I feel all is right with the world once again. BTW, there was no context in the book to justify "here, here." What I suspect it shows is that even books published by a big publishing house no longer receive a close proofreading performed by an actual human but only get a computerized spellcheck.

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    3. I'm afraid you might be right, based on what I've heard about how badly written some of the most popular books are. I would never read Fifty Shades of Grey, but quite a few people have told me that it obviously didn't receive the spanking nor the editing it needed.

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Got your panties in a bunch? Dig 'em out, get comfortable, and let's chat.