Wednesday, August 11, 2010

American English vs British English: Which Is Your Pick?

Recently I got a mail from a friend who wanted some information regarding the British style of writing. He was in the process of drafting an article for a UK based magazine and had to stick to their style of writing. Though I consider myself as no expert here but whatever information and knowledge I had on it I shared it with him. This made me realise that why not share the same information here too. I am sure that there are many people out there with the same issue at hand. It becomes all the more important when we have to decide which one of these to use for drafting content of our websites.

When trying to differentiate the British English from the American English, there are a few aspects where they differ. Let us start with the spellings.

Most of us are aware that there are certain words which the American and the British spell differently.
British English ; American English
centre ; center
theatre ; theater
colour ; color
catalogue ; catalog
programme ; program
neighbour ; neighbor

The next point differentiating them would be the vocabulary. There are some words and terms that are either used only in British or American English.
British English ; American English
lift ; elevator
boot ; trunk
autumn ; fall
litter ; garbage
crossroad ; crossing
trousers ; pants

Then we have plurals. There are a number of nouns that don’t have a plural form in British English while they do have a plural form in American English.
British English ; American English
types of accommodation ; accommodation
types of food ; foods
a lot of fruit ; many foods
strands of hair ; hairs

The next big difference which creeps is the way that the British use their grammar. It includes how they use their “present perfects” and “adverbs” in their sentence formations.

So which version of these two languages should one use on their website?

  • If you wish your website to cater to a local population then the best way ahead would be to use the English language variant used there. This will make the readers there to accept your style of writing much easily.
  • This means that if you have a US based website then you should use American English and likewise for a UK based website the best pick would be British English.

But what do you do if you wish your website to be viewed as a website catering to the international clientele?

The solution for this would depend on your main target audience. If your prospective clients are primarily from Europe then the website content should be written in British English. On the other hand if you wish to target the American and Asian community, then the preferred pick would be American English.

Whatever be your pick regarding the variant of the English language the golden rule to follow is to stick to any one form of the language and stick to it while drafting the content of the entire website.


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