Sunday, 24 July 2011

Divided by a common language

Did anyone read this on the BBC News website last week? Following on from a previous article about how US English is changing the way language is used in the UK (and elsewhere), and which included an invitation for people to comment on which words or phrases annoyed them the most, a list of 50 of the most noted Americanisms was produced.

It's a funny old business. Language evolves, and I like that about it, and yet there are still some elements of that evolution that I find annoying. (See below.) There are other aspects that are wrongly labelled as evolution. 'Gotten', for example, which puts in an appearance at number 15, was used interchangeably in both the UK and the US up to at least the 17th century. After that it seems that the US showed a preference for 'gotten' whereas the UK preferred 'got'. This isn't a new word being introduced, just an old one making a comeback. Is it fair to call it an Americanism and to get annoyed if folk start to use it again in the UK?

It's probably fair to say that railing against this is akin to parking a chair on the beach and shouting at the sea to go back: it won't make a blind bit of difference. And for me, the things that are introducing Americanisms into UK English - books, films, TV shows and music - are things I would not like to give up. It's just a shame that some of the best things the UK sends over to the US, for example Red Dwarf and Life on Mars, are apparently only acceptable if remade for a US audience (and when I say 'remade', I mean 'ruined', certainly where these two shows are concerned). Maybe if that wasn't so often the case, the tide wouldn't always seem to be one way.

P.S. The ones in the list of 50 that I hate the most: 12, 25, 26, 30, 36, 44, 50

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Poor spelling hits the bottom line

Spelling mistakes and poor grammar routinely put me off buying from online shops, and it seems I'm not the only one. Online entrepreneur Charles Duncombe says an analysis of website figures shows a single spelling mistake can cut online sales in half. (Read the full story.)

And it’s not just online that appearances matter. Businesses are judged by everything that appears with their name on it.

Time and again businesses invest in design, technology, research, marketing - everything but the quality of the writing. ‘Jenny’s a graduate, let her do it,’ is not an unusual decision. And yet, as we can see here, the quality of the writing - whether on a website, in a brochure or in a sales letter - can cost a business customers and profits. Unless there is complete confidence that staff can write to a high standard, skimping on professional help is a false economy.

Saturday, 9 July 2011

Convictions - new review

I'm absolutely delighted to have received an excellent and insightful review of my debut novel Convictions from Luca Veste at his blog, Guilty Conscience. You can read it here.

Thanks so much, Luca!

If you want to check out Convictions for yourself, there are links in the sidebar. And thank you!

Friday, 8 July 2011

Gone Bad - new review

I'm thrilled to have received a blisteringly good review for my short story collection, Gone Bad. This one is from top class reviewer Elizabeth White, and you can read it here. Thank you, Elizabeth!

If you'd like to check out Gone Bad for yourself, there are links in the sidebar. And thank you!