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Tuesday, 15 January 2019

Why I don't use US English in my Blog Posts

Why I Can't Speak American English | Fake Fabulous

Much like local fashion trends, language is NOT the same everywhere, is it?

Take Scotland as an example.
If you're not from Scotland you might think that everyone from Scotland sounds similar right?
Simply Scottish.

Well... you'd be wrong!

There are vast regional differences between different areas of Scotland.

Sometimes you can struggle to understand what they are saying even if you only live fifty miles apart!

In the town I grew up (in the North East of England) there were differences in accent (and even vocabulary) from one town to the next, and there were less than 10 miles between the towns!

Local people could tell EXACTLY where you were from as soon as you opened your mouth.

Is it the same where you live?How far do you have to travel before the accent changes or even the words used to describe certain things are different?


Why I Can't Speak American English | Fake Fabulous

Human language is so interesting (and very complex) isn't it?

Which gets me to the point of this post...

I've noticed that many UK based bloggers, YouTubers and vloggers use American English terms for things they are talking about.
(Especially when it comes to fashion.)

Even though those words are not part of their own native vocabulary.
They are not the words that person uses in real life.
They are only used for the purpose of speaking to their US English speaking audience.

And I must admit to you that I don't like it!

I've got nothing against American English (or any language for that matter) and I know exactly why people do it.

A high proportion of our readers are from the US and it's much easier to connect with someone when you use terms they are familiar with.

BUT... I just can't write any other way than the way I speak.
I don't like it.
It doesn't sound like 'me'.
It sounds false.
I won't do it.
I CAN'T do it.
(I've tried in the past and failed)

So when I call trainers or sneakers (see what I did there) the Scottish word 'gutties' its just the way it has to be.

{If you ever feel the need for a translation of anything I write, please don't hesitate to ask!}

This got me thinking about writing blog posts in your mother tongue as opposed to the most commonly used languages.

With translation so readily available is it better to write from the heart in your own language or stick to a more 'popular' language that you may be fluent in but maybe loses the subtle nuances of what you want to say?

I often use google translate to read articles written in Spanish, Russian or French but always find it never quite hits the spot.
The translations are always a bit weird and sometimes completely crazy! 
Even if the translation does get it right (ish) the essence of a piece of writing can be lost.
The subtleties don't translate so well.

Writing in English seems to be SO popular and I'm in awe of anyone who can write in more than one language.
The bloggers that write in their mother tongue then write the same post again in English leave me feeling like a dimwit.

One big disadvantage of being brought up English speaking is that the social drive to learn new languages is more at hobby level as opposed to a serious venture.
It is frustrating but I feel my language learning ship has sailed.
I find it so hard.

I can ask for a beer and a coffee in Spanish, French and Italian.
Hardly multilingual!!
(duh)


On a more lighthearted note...
Some of the US English words are really funny when you translate them into British English, and vice versa no doubt!

For example...

If you're in the US talking about your VEST and PANTS you'll be in a WAISTCOAT and TROUSERS (very practical in winter) but to me, you're standing in you're underwear (not so practical)!

Some more fun translations...


US English 
UK English
Scottish English!
Sneakers
Trainers
Gutties
Sweater
Jumper

Turtleneck
Poloneck

Thrifting
Charity Shopping

Stores
Shops

Romper
Playsuit

Overalls
Dungarees

Coveralls
Overalls

Panties
Pants

Pantyhose
Tights

Undershirt
Vest
Semmit
Vest
Waistcoat or Gilet

Garter
Suspenders

Suspenders
Braces

Pants
Trousers
Trews or Breeks

(NOTE: I've used the terms 'Scottish English' here BUT its proper name is 'Scots')

How do you feel about modifying your language to communicate with others?
Does it feel okay to you?
Is it socially expected?

Are you used to doing it because your language is not spoken widely (on a global scale)?

Do you appreciate it when bloggers use YOUR language?
Do you feel frustrated when you're reading words and phrases that aren't part of your daily vocabulary?
Please let me know by leaving a comment.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this topic!

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20 comments

  1. I'm in the United States. I wish bloggers in other countries would use their native terminology and slang. I don't mind looking up a word now and then. I will admit, when I'm reading blogs from a non-U.S. blogger, in my head, I read it with their accent. I think it makes the overall reading more fun and authentic - like I'm really sitting with someone from somewhere else.

    I'm in the American midwest and if I go about 4 hours south, west, or east I will encounter folks with a different accent. So, even when I'm reading a blog by someone from the American south, I can hear the twang and drawl in my mind. So, yes, to writing in your own lingo! I love it.

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    1. Thank you for this fab comment!
      This is so interesting to me.
      I wonder how you imagine my voice to sound... that's a brilliant way to read blogs!
      I have heard a few bloggers talking on videos and insta stories and it's always fascinating to hear their 'real' voices.
      XXX

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  2. I used to write in both English and my mother tongue. I actually only write in English now because:
    1. I need halve the time. If I were to write in two languages it takes double the time. Maybe even more!
    2. The number of native to me readers who don't understand English is VERY small. Like two or three.
    3. If I want to say something that only means something to those who are local to me I can do it in English too. I can even spell it using the Latin alphabet. (My native tongue uses it's own alphabet.)
    4. I can connect with a VAST number of people which is my ultimate goal. To create a community, understand different cultures etc.
    5. I come from a small country (Greece), and there are differences in accent and vocabulary all over the country. So much so that you might not understand a word the other person is saying! Although it is social expected to speak the common dialect if someone is not local, otherwise you insult that person.

    To me using English is just one more tool that I use to connect and learn.

    Since my language is not widely spoken (globally) and is hard to learn (or so I am told) I prefer if someone just uses plain English. I do appreciate some effort but it usually doesn't help.

    When I read online I don't mind looking up some words or phrases, but I would not use Google translate because the results are not good.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What a brilliant comment Ioanna.... thank you SO MUCH for taking the time to leave it!
      I'm fascinated by your ability to write in such perfect English.
      There is not a word out of place or context.
      I don't mean to sound patronising in any way there!!!!!
      BUT it is an amazing skill.
      Our alphabet is even the same (as you said).
      Thank you for leaving your reasons for writing in English.
      I nodded my way through your list and agree completely with your thoughts.
      Whatever makes life easier and connects with more people makes perfect sense to me.
      Thank you also for your wee comment about accents and vocabulary.
      I'm so glad to hear that Greece is no different to Scotland in that respect!! :o)
      XXX

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  3. I always enjoy the particular accents and words used in different places, that's the richness of a language!. Spanish also sounds pretty different in every region, vocabulary changes included, and every country has its own accents (a lot of them!). Sometimes it's not easy to understand somebody from another country or region.
    My own (peculiar) spanish could confuse any Argentinian or Mexican reader, but people have got used to read and hear any accent, so I'm ok with it.

    And I know that my mismatched english would horrify my teachers (I don't feel particularly proud of my english), but it's better than google translate!.

    besos

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    Replies
    1. I live in the United States and we have a lot of Spanish speakers in my area of the midwest. English and Spanish speakers here (whether bi-lingual or not) will sometimes communicate in what we affectionately call "Spanglish" - expressing a thought with a combination of the two langugages based on the words you know. So, even if you are fluent in one, but not the other, you can mostly converse with and understand what the other is saying. It is so delightful how we can learn to communicate, despite a language barrier. Which is why I love when bloggers use their own expressions, slang, and wording.

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    2. Thank you for this comment Monica!
      I think ANYTHING is better than google translate :oP.
      I can't comment on your spoken English but your written looks pretty amazing to me... as I imagine trying to construct a sentence in spanish (duh).
      XXX

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  4. I hope that every blogger I follow is as authentic and true to themselves as possible. Part of the joy I derive from reading blogs comes from learning about people from other parts of the world.
    Language is embedded in culture and is revealing of differences and similarities. I find it troubling that some bloggers are willing to sacrifice their authenticity to be more marketable.

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  5. Oops, that was me, Jude! :-)

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    Replies
    1. I guessed it was you Jude!
      I recognised your style of writing.... as you say 'authentic' and true to you.
      Thank you!
      XXX

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  6. To add to the confusion, in my language (Dutch) we have some words which are the same as in English but are used for different garments, My vest is your cardigan, my panty is your tights, shirts is only used for Tshirts and longsleeved Tshirts, never for your shirts which is overhemd or blouse/bloes in Dutch. So sometimes I have to read one of your sentences twice before I understand 'What is she writing about?' XD Keep up the good work, I love to read your blogs

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm ashamed to say I hadn't realised this Jozé!
      So a cardigan is a vest and tights are panties!
      And shirts don't have buttons.... I'm even more confused and must investigate further!!
      Thank you so much for this fab comment, and your kindness!
      XXX

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  7. I have the same as Joze above as I am Dutch too. But a few years ago when we were in Wales, the waiter asked me if I was from the south of England! Ha ha, I was so proud! So I probably talk better then I write in English.

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    Replies
    1. Well you write perfectly Nancy!
      I was asked by a waiter in Spain if I was German because my family looked and sounded so different to the English people he had spoken to.
      I must admit that it made me feel pretty good.
      I imagined myself bilingual for a moment!! :oP
      XXX

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  8. I don't even know WHAT is American english and what is British English anymore after being outside of the US for so long. I still find words and pronunciation from South Africa (where I lived for 6 years) creep into my vocabulary now and then. Sometimes the most natural word for me is British "shedule" for schedule and sometimes it is American "skedjool." It depends on where my brain is at that moment!
    The only time it grates me is if someones word choice sounds pretentious or artificial.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think I agree there Lisa.
      Forced language pretending to be natural is annoying.
      Accidental language is much more charming!
      Interestingly, I would say 'Skedyule'... my husband agrees!
      My youngest girls often use American words because they watch beauty YouTubers... when I say 'beauty' you know the ones I mean!!! (Coco the Clown meets Priscilla Queen of the Desert :oP)
      I love the variety and I'm fascinated with different words for different things.
      It's beautiful.
      XXX

      Delete
  9. Oh, and let's not forget Canadian English, which is another ballgame, with overlaps of British and US English! I notice on your chart that some of the terms I use are Brit and some are US, and some of those are two different things, eg. pantyhose are nylons (very lightweight, term used interchangeably) and tights refer to the thicker denier hose. We use pants/trousers interchangeably. A jumper here is a dress that's meant to have a top worn under it, usually worn by children. Garters are used for holding up stockings/nylons (that aren't full pantyhose) or old men's socks. I still hear bracers for suspenders, too. I also see Aussie bloggers (Australian English too!) using "opshops" to mean charity or thrift shops. Canadians also use the term runners for sneakers.

    I have my Google set to UK English due to the spelling (colour, neighbour, centre), as Canadian English follows the UK, not the US.

    I prefer bloggers to use the terms that they would speak. I would miss your "voice" if you suddenly changed to US terms, Samantha! Canadian English is the least accented English spoken in the world (last place settled!), but we have differences from coast to coast. I can always tell someone from the East coast.

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    1. Oh Sheila... I hope I didn't offend you by forgetting completely about Canadian English!!
      Pantyhose, tights, nylons?.... A 'jumper' is a dungaree dress then?
      Opshops?
      It's fascinating!
      Thank you for educating me on some Canadian English.
      The spelling aspect was something I hadn't really thought about... there is SO MUCH to learn when it comes to language. Even if we're supposed to speak the same one!
      XXX

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  10. I love that you write in your own country’s “language”. Learning the different words or phrases that you use vs the U.S. equivalent is part of the fun. And reading different or unfamiliar terms is so easy compared to listening. We watch a lot of British Netflix series and usually use the subtitles. I find that the more episodes I listen to, the better I get at hearing and understanding the words. All part of the fun!

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  11. You missed out ‘drawers’ for knickers lol. I love language! My favourite Norwegian word is ‘stoor-sooker’ which is vacuum cleaner in English.

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