Blog August 22, 2006

Creeping Standardis(z)ations

I’m a big fan of The Editors – the blogs of the BBC‘s editorial staff. My current favourite is the pronounciation unit’s daily lessons in how to pronounce foreign names properly. (That’s pruh-nun-see-AY-shuhn to me and you). Today, for instance, I learned how the BBC pronounces Halkidiki. (The pronunciation is hal-kee-dhi-KEE (-dh as in “this”). if you are interested). And there’s even a pdf download on phoenetic spelling a la BBC. Now why on earth am I blogging about this today? Well I’m in a war with the spell checker on my computer which insists on reverting to US English even though I have no need for US English. I will happily speak and pronounce US English when I am in the US, the rest of the time I want Ireland English or UK English as a back up, but my computer refuses to co-operate, particularly if I receive a document from someone else who doesn’t care what kind of English they use so long as it’s legible.
I think I need a section on rants and raves because I’m getting fed up with the creeping standardisation (standardization?) of US English as the default on this side of the pond. It’s bad enough having to negotiate email written in text message English (why? oh why?) but add in US English in documents and I’m beginning to think I don’t live at home any more. Is it just me who cares? I know this is a small thing to some people but it’s stuff like this that I find really disorientating…What was normal isn’t any more and while I know I’m vying for Victoria Meldrew status here, it matters – it really does, and I’m not even one of the punctuation police who rant about apostrophes.
I obviously have not enough to do with my time I hear you chime.


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  • Julian August 22, 2006 at 1:54 pm

    Now here’s a confession: I actually double-job as the plain-clothes equivalent of the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Spelling Police, and other people’s lack of rigour about these things makes me very uneasy; though there’s no point at all in doing a King Canute on it and I know this. But it is a bloody nuisance when computers and related inanimates (how I wish they could feel physical pain) refuse to acknowledge speakers and writers of British English. I share your indignation, but at the same time prefer to dodge debates about Language. I think the most anyone who cares can hope to do is lead by example. Or make a packet out of it like Ms Truss, the “Eats, Shoots…” mogul.

  • annette clancy August 22, 2006 at 2:06 pm

    Yay! I knew that post would root out the CMSP people. What’s a girl to do if she can’t rely on a spell checker to help her out? .. and fair play to Lynne Truss…great book btw

  • the Wandering Author August 23, 2006 at 4:51 am

    I have an even worse problem. I grew up in the US, but exchanged books by post with my Irish cousins. So I learned to spell the British English way. All my English teachers battled to compel me to spell American Blandard, but I fought them off. There is hope for you, though; try WordPerfect. I use it with the British English language tools selected, and it works fine. Perhaps it is only Microsoft that seeks to force the world to Americanise.

  • annette clancy August 23, 2006 at 2:21 pm

    I never thought about it from the other perspective Wandering Author lol!