Fantasy Faction

Fantasy Faction => Fantasy Book & Author Discussion => Topic started by: Arry on November 07, 2013, 05:50:56 PM

Title: Very British or Very American.... what do these even mean?
Post by: Arry on November 07, 2013, 05:50:56 PM
OK, I see comments like this often and I have been curious, but honestly afraid to ask, likely because I'm American. Maybe because the posters here are largely from the UK and I'm afraid I'll be showing my cultural naivety (perhaps being very American in the process). But I often see things referred to as very british or very american, and quite honestly I am never real sure what to make of it.

Anyone feel like enlightening me?  :D
Title: Re: Very British or Very American.... what do these even mean?
Post by: Eclipse on November 07, 2013, 05:59:01 PM
I think it's term of words used for example I read a book where the character said bangs ( something to do with hair?) i had no idea what that was first time i read it haha  :) or maybe words used like color/colour honor/honour also got confused with the word fender I worked that one out eventually  :)

http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/words/british-and-american-terms

Do you know what a zebra crossing is ? hehe
Title: Re: Very British or Very American.... what do these even mean?
Post by: ScarletBea on November 07, 2013, 06:07:14 PM
I think it was me who said it - funnily enough, I'm neither by birth, although I do live in the UK and feel british by heart.

Ooooh how can I explain this?
I think the easiest is that when I say something (in this case, a book) is very *insert nationality here*, I mean that it draws on all the wrong stereotypes of that nationality (probably mine!), or relies on something that is very much ingrained in that nationality.

I said 'too american' about American Gods and also about The Long Earth, and for me it was about landscape (long straight roads, desert, large empty spaces), about normal american stuff that I don't get (diners, food, guns), about attitude (I own the place that hasn't been reclaimed).

Don't get me wrong, I work with loads of americans and I think there's hardly any that fall into the stereotype, but it's this idea that I have.
In the future, I will try to be more specific about what I do and don't like about something, without relying on this generalisation.
:)
Title: Re: Very British or Very American.... what do these even mean?
Post by: Arry on November 07, 2013, 06:22:04 PM
I think it's term of words used for example I read a book where the character said bangs ( something to do with hair?) i had no idea what that was first time i read it haha  :)or maybe words used like color/colour

http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/words/british-and-american-terms

See ... that I get. I have learned many of the differences in words like you said (bangs here is fringe there), and so that doesn't bother me at all.  The spelling differences to me seem trivial, I can't imagine complaining about a book because it.

So, I have gotten the impression that it can also mean more than just cultural differences in spelling or words, like there is a difference in style, tone or humor. (note, my lack of u in humor ;) ). I know when I have not cared for a book (written by a british author) I got a response of "well, it is very british". As if I didn't care for it because, as an Amercian, I am unlikely to get it. I have no idea what to make of that.



I think it was me who said it - funnily enough, I'm neither by birth, although I do live in the UK and feel british by heart.
Ha ... no worries! I have thought of posting something like this so many times since joining the forum. Today, I guess I finally got the nerve to do so. Maybe because you don't seem like the type to flame me for asking :)

Quote
Ooooh how can I explain this?
I think the easiest is that when I say something (in this case, a book) is very *insert nationality here*, I mean that it draws on all the wrong stereotypes of that nationality (probably mine!), or relies on something that is very much ingrained in that nationality.

I said 'too american' about American Gods and also about The Long Earth, and for me it was about landscape (long straight roads, desert, large empty spaces), about normal american stuff that I don't get (diners, food, guns), about attitude (I own the place that hasn't been reclaimed).
American Gods actually got on my nerves with all of the references to specific cultural nuances throughout America. He definitely dropped many regional brands, names, traditions that got a bit tiring.

Quote
In the future, I will try to be more specific about what I do and don't like about something, without relying on this generalisation.
:)


Seriously, no worries about your comments at all. I have just been very curious what people meant by it.
Title: Re: Very British or Very American.... what do these even mean?
Post by: Arry on November 07, 2013, 06:24:14 PM
Do you know what a zebra crossing is ? hehe

I do now ... thanks to my good pal Google ;)
Title: Re: Very British or Very American.... what do these even mean?
Post by: Justan Henner on November 07, 2013, 07:55:57 PM

I said 'too american' about American Gods and also about The Long Earth, and for me it was about landscape (long straight roads, desert, large empty spaces), about normal american stuff that I don't get (diners, food, guns), about attitude (I own the place that hasn't been reclaimed).


That's interesting. The long, straight roads isn't something I would have thought of as more American, but it's very true in some places. (That stretch between Reno, Nevada and Salt Lake City, Utah comes to mind. No, correction. The entire state of Nevada comes to mind.)

Desert is more a south west thing, and with Westerns being fairly prevalent at different points in time I can see why that would be considered American. The Large Empty spaces is pretty dead on, but is very dependent on the state's population and the type of wilderness. Even in the emptiest places, a state like California doesn't feel near as empty as less populace desert states like Arizona, Nevada, etc.
Title: Re: Very British or Very American.... what do these even mean?
Post by: ScarletBea on November 07, 2013, 08:14:43 PM
Ok, just to stress the stereotype idea (+tv, of course), the only places in America that I've been were New York, San Francisco and Charleston, this last one for work/one afternoon for sightseeing (I'm a city-tourist person).

Arry, definitely not a flamer, me ;D
Title: Re: Very British or Very American.... what do these even mean?
Post by: Justan Henner on November 07, 2013, 08:52:56 PM
haha, I don't think what you've said will offend anyone, so I wouldn't worry at all. And I'm not even sure what you said is at all stereotypical. Some examples from the things you mentioned:

American's don't have gun control (in most/many places), the UK does, so that's not at all offensive to talk about the difference in perception.

Diners aren't all that common, except when traveling, so its probably an overblown thematic/scenery device that's held on from a time when they were more common. The traditional diner (Burgers, fries, etc.) has pretty much been replaced by fast food, bars, and restaurants. Even in America, they're seen as more of a fifties/sixties thing.

Food is too general of a topic, so I dunno what you mean by it specifically. If you mean the type of food we consume, it's dependent on region and heritage. This is something a friend of mine and I talk about on occasion. His family is from Hong Kong so he eats primarily traditional chinese dishes at home (his parents home), while my family is about 5th or sixth generation from Europe, and we eat mostly meat and potato dishes, pastas, hamburgers, etc. These things would probably be considered more stereotypical American food, but again I don't see why that'd be taken offensively at all.

TBH, I'm sure you're probably aware of this kind of stuff already and can think of corollaries to it in the UK, because honestly, life is pretty much the same everywhere  and some things (specifically thinking of the food stuff) are stereotypes not to make caricatures, but because they're the most common standard in the culture.
(or in the case of the diners, were common at some point in time)

Of course, there are some stereotypes/motifs that are completely fictional. I had a literature class in college that was making that exact point about Westerns and the Western Frontier. The 'feel' of Westerns, (cowboys vs. indians etc.), is largely made up. There were only a few years and rare locations with the isolated desert town with bandits etc. that are at all accurate, and more often that sort of event is just b.s. For example, the truth of the cowboy vs. indians motif is more like Blood Meridian where American/Mexican local governments were issuing bounties for Native American scalps than it is the idea that Native Americans were raiding and burning villages just for the sake of it. (I mean I'm sure there are historical events where villages were burned, etc, but they're not common and most of the actual wars that were fought were the American Gov't. against tribes from the Dakota regions after the Black Hills were annexed by the US, and not in a desert region at all.)

Edit: sorry, I had a lot to say and kept editing it XD

Sorry, another correction. Blood Meridian is also very fictional, and while based on real laws and a real gang that did that sort of thing, it is still a pretty isolated event and not very representative of what really happened at the time.
Title: Re: Very British or Very American.... what do these even mean?
Post by: Arry on November 07, 2013, 09:06:06 PM
haha, I don't think what you've said will offend anyone, so I wouldn't worry at all. And I'm not even sure what you said is at all stereotypical. Some examples from the things you mentioned:

I agree. It's part of the reason I figured this was a good opportunity to bring up my question, because I didn't think it came across as offensive at all,  just served as a reminder that I do wonder about this.

Quote
American's don't have gun control (in most/many places), the UK does, so that's not at all offensive to talk about the difference in perception.
Agreed. Where I live it is now illegal for public parks and playgrounds to prohibit concealed weapons. Meaning that towns, even if they want to say "Dont bring guns here!", can't.  :'( My sad face gives away where I stand on this, but regardless, all Americans are used to guns being a topic.

Quote
Diners aren't all that common, except when traveling, so its probably an overblown thematic/scenery device that's held on from a time when they were more common. The traditional diner (Burgers, fries, etc.) has pretty much been replaced by fast food, bars, and restaurants. Even in America, they're seen as more of a fifties/sixties thing.
I associate them as retro or as rural. I feel like there's likely still diners in rural areas, but ... since I've never lived anywhere rural, I don't really know.

Quote
TBH, I'm sure you're probably aware of this kind of stuff already and can think of corollaries to it in the UK, because as much as we pretend, life is pretty much the same everywhere.
Yep. This. Think it is part of the reason I posted the question in the first place.
Title: Re: Very British or Very American.... what do these even mean?
Post by: Justan Henner on November 07, 2013, 09:13:16 PM

I associate them as retro or as rural. I feel like there's likely still diners in rural areas, but ... since I've never lived anywhere rural, I don't really know.


Exactly, the only place I've ever seen real diners are small towns in the middle of no where.

Although, there are chains that try to mimic the feel, like Mel's, that are common in some places. (but not very good)
Title: Re: Very British or Very American.... what do these even mean?
Post by: DBASKLS on November 07, 2013, 09:59:08 PM
Interesting question!

Well I'm a full blood Brit so here are my thoughts. Now please no one be offended.

1) And I am sure this works both ways but if a [fantasy/other world] book is written in American e.g. uses words like gotten or phrases that are "American" culturally it does annoy me because it's a fantasy book not American. As I said I'm sure non-Brits will spot "Brit-isms" that I don't notice.

2) Another sweeping generalisation here but on the whole non-Americans understand more about American culture due to so much American TV than the other way round. So maybe some underlying non-American cultural references are not understood by Americans?

You say tomayto and I say tomahto!

You ask any Brit how they've got on asking for a banana in America! Impossible I tell ya! And American voice recognition doesn't recognise Mancunian with some West Midlands thrown in as an accent either!
Title: Re: Very British or Very American.... what do these even mean?
Post by: Elfy on November 07, 2013, 10:03:46 PM
I wonder if Australians fit in anywhere there?
Title: Re: Very British or Very American.... what do these even mean?
Post by: DBASKLS on November 07, 2013, 10:09:35 PM
I wonder if Australians fit in anywhere there?

Nah! Unless we start talking about cricket - which will really confuse the Americans!  ;)
Title: Re: Very British or Very American.... what do these even mean?
Post by: EricaDakin on November 07, 2013, 10:12:14 PM
I think in some cases it's not even a cultural or word-choice thing, it's the entire feel of a book. The broad cliches there are that if the whole feel of a book is very dry and self-deprecating, maybe with some sarcasm thrown in, it will feel British, whereas if it's more grand and a little over-the-top it'll feel more American. Terry Pratchett is very British not just because of the cultural references, but because the humour is very British. Please note that these are very broad generalisations!

Plus there's also the simple fact that things that are completely everyday to Americans will seem odd or unusual to Brits, and vice versa. I read a Nora Roberts novel which had the characters constantly grabbing bottled water out of their fridges, while I don't know a single person here in Britain who stocks bottled water in their fridge as a matter of course. Simple things like that can make a novel feel British or American to a reader. I'll also say that I tend to pay attention to that kind of stuff since I'm a Dutch person living in Britain, and even with two countries so close together there are quite big cultural differences that took some getting used to.
Title: Re: Very British or Very American.... what do these even mean?
Post by: Doctor_Chill on November 07, 2013, 10:15:13 PM
My town has like three (not retro) diners. Small little home grown restaurants that house about ten people. Does that count?
Title: Re: Very British or Very American.... what do these even mean?
Post by: Justan Henner on November 07, 2013, 10:33:11 PM

Plus there's also the simple fact that things that are completely everyday to Americans will seem odd or unusual to Brits, and vice versa.


Yeah, I would say this is dead on. For example, just from this thread, I wouldn't think twice about using a phrase with 'gotten' and didn't even know it was an American thing.
Title: Re: Very British or Very American.... what do these even mean?
Post by: DBASKLS on November 07, 2013, 10:39:03 PM

Plus there's also the simple fact that things that are completely everyday to Americans will seem odd or unusual to Brits, and vice versa.


Yeah, I would say this is dead on. For example, just from this thread, I wouldn't think twice about using a phrase with 'gotten' and didn't even know it was an American thing.

Argh see I knew I shouldn't have used that example!  :-\ I'm just being a snobby Brit!
Title: Re: Very British or Very American.... what do these even mean?
Post by: Justan Henner on November 07, 2013, 10:44:21 PM
Why? I don't see what you said as offensive, in fact I think its interesting. That's not something I've ever heard of before and I love learning differences in language.

Edit: for example, I grew up in Utah and for some reason Utahn's pronounce 'Supposedly' as 'Supposably.' I didn't notice it when I lived in Utah, but I notice it now that I live in California. It's much the same as afterwards vs. afterward, and so on. (although Supposably to me is just outright incorrect, even though I am certain I once pronounced it that way.)
Title: Re: Very British or Very American.... what do these even mean?
Post by: Arry on November 07, 2013, 10:44:44 PM
I think in some cases it's not even a cultural or word-choice thing, it's the entire feel of a book. The broad cliches there are that if the whole feel of a book is very dry and self-deprecating, maybe with some sarcasm thrown in, it will feel British, whereas if it's more grand and a little over-the-top it'll feel more American. Terry Pratchett is very British not just because of the cultural references, but because the humour is very British. Please note that these are very broad generalizations!

Yes! This is what I was getting the impression of. But, I also MUCH prefer

Quote
whole feel of a book is very dry and self-deprecating, maybe with some sarcasm thrown in

to

Quote
more grand and a little over-the-top

so, where does that place me? I know my tastes are not necessarily standard here, and having been raised pretty much on sarcasm and kool-aid, my sense of humor can also be a little off beat. But self-deprecating, dry, sarcastic humor definitely has a place here so it's not something I would think of as British instead of American. I guess that's the thing, is it just boiling down the cultures to stereotypes based on prevalence? Maybe, maybe not. There could easily be jokes in some of the british books I read that I don't even realize I am missing. I guess over the top (American) is harder to miss.


Plus there's also the simple fact that things that are completely everyday to Americans will seem odd or unusual to Brits, and vice versa.


Yeah, I would say this is dead on. For example, just from this thread, I wouldn't think twice about using a phrase with 'gotten' and didn't even know it was an American thing.

Argh see I knew I shouldn't have used that example!  :-\ I'm just being a snobby Brit!

hmm… I think maybe there's a miscommunication here. dbaskls, I don't think Justan was complaining or offended or in any way reacting like he thought your comment was snobbish. I think he was just recognizing that there is a word we wouldn't think twice about using because it's an every day word, but seeing you say it's jarring makes us realize that it may be an every day word for us, but not for you. It's a good example of difference in vocabulary (beyond the extra 'u's in words like colour and humor …. my spell check hates the british spellings, by the way, I don't much mind :) )
Title: Re: Very British or Very American.... what do these even mean?
Post by: Justan Henner on November 07, 2013, 10:50:49 PM
hmm… I think maybe there's a miscommunication here. dbaskls, I don't think Justan was complaining or offended or in any way reacting like he thought your comment was snobbish. I think he was just recognizing that there is a word we wouldn't think twice about using because it's an every day word, but seeing you say it's jarring makes us realize that it may be an every day word for us, but not for you. It's a good example of difference in vocabulary (beyond the extra 'u's in words like colour and humor …. my spell check hates the british spellings, by the way, I don't much mind :) )

Yes, exactly this. I didn't think it was snobbish at all, more a fun and interesting difference.
Title: Re: Very British or Very American.... what do these even mean?
Post by: DBASKLS on November 07, 2013, 11:02:55 PM
hmm… I think maybe there's a miscommunication here. dbaskls, I don't think Justan was complaining or offended or in any way reacting like he thought your comment was snobbish. I think he was just recognizing that there is a word we wouldn't think twice about using because it's an every day word, but seeing you say it's jarring makes us realize that it may be an every day word for us, but not for you. It's a good example of difference in vocabulary (beyond the extra 'u's in words like colour and humor …. my spell check hates the british spellings, by the way, I don't much mind :) )

Yes, exactly this. I didn't think it was snobbish at all, more a fun and interesting difference.

It's OK I just really didn't want to offend! I do cringe at myself for not liking it when I read it though! I can feel the Britishness oozing out of me!

TBH it's more about the fact that I read fantasy. If I read gotten or any other "American" word in, for example a Mira Grant book or The Dirty Streets of Heaven it doesn't bother me as they are set in America. I notice it more if the book is set in a fanstay place.
Title: Re: Very British or Very American.... what do these even mean?
Post by: Arry on November 07, 2013, 11:04:42 PM
TBH it's more about the fact that I read fantasy. If I read gotten or any other "American" word in, for example a Mira Grant book or The Dirty Streets of Heaven it doesn't bother me as they are set in America. I notice it more if the book is set in a fanstay place.
I guess then it may be more because it is a modern word versus an American word since most fantasies seem to have a medieval setting. :)
Title: Re: Very British or Very American.... what do these even mean?
Post by: Jeni on November 07, 2013, 11:06:40 PM
I wonder if Australians fit in anywhere there?

Actually, yes...When I read The Innocent Mage by Karen Miller, it was very apparent within the first few chapters that she was Australian because of a/some of the phrase(s) she used. Can't remember exactly what it was and I don't have the book to hand right now, but it was definitely a language trigger in my head and not the setting or characters or plot etc.
Title: Re: Very British or Very American.... what do these even mean?
Post by: ladybritches on November 07, 2013, 11:49:56 PM
I love the differences. I *embrace* the differences. I encourage the use of "isms".  8)



Title: Re: Very British or Very American.... what do these even mean?
Post by: Elfy on November 08, 2013, 12:30:56 AM
Given the differences between Britain and America I'd be surprised if there wasn't a different feel to a book.
Title: Re: Very British or Very American.... what do these even mean?
Post by: Arakasi on November 08, 2013, 01:09:09 AM
Stephen Fry said that British films or movies and TV series can't do "ordinary" people. With the Brits they have to be part of a class. Either middle, working or part of the elite and their class can define much of who they are. Their beliefs, the way they talk, dress and their education can be drawn from this. I also find that Brits tend to draw on the working class when they while Americans look to their middle class.

There are some other differences, Brits tend to be cynical and their humor is more ironic and self deprecating while American tend to be more energetic and positive and their humor is more observational.
Title: Re: Very British or Very American.... what do these even mean?
Post by: Elfy on November 08, 2013, 02:50:48 AM
I wonder if Australians fit in anywhere there?

Nah! Unless we start talking about cricket - which will really confuse the Americans!  ;)
My story entry featured cricket this month. I can just see anyone that doesn't know the sport scratching their heads. This thread kind of reminds me of a conversation we had last year with a few forum members about the differences between what Brits and Australians call a biscuit as opposed to a cookie and what Americans think of when they say biscuit.
Title: AW: Re: Very British or Very American.... what do these even mean?
Post by: xiagan on November 08, 2013, 05:50:36 AM
I wonder if Australians fit in anywhere there?

Nah! Unless we start talking about cricket - which will really confuse the Americans!  ;)
My story entry featured cricket this month. I can just see anyone that doesn't know the sport scratching their heads. This thread kind of reminds me of a conversation we had last year with a few forum members about the differences between what Brits and Australians call a biscuit as opposed to a cookie and what Americans think of when they say biscuit.
haha, I just wanted to say: "wow, three pages in a day and we haven't talked about biscuits yet." :D this certainly was a funny and confusing discussion.

I'm not from an English speaking country and I have to say I can't see if the difference in the writing is because of the author's writing style or his cultural background (one is heavily influenced by the other of course). I notice that Pratchett writes different than Williams (for example) but how much of it is the author and how much is the country I have no idea.
Title: Re: Re: Very British or Very American.... what do these even mean?
Post by: joshfishkins on November 08, 2013, 07:29:28 AM
Stephen Fry said that British films or movies and TV series can't do "ordinary" people. With the Brits they have to be part of a class. Either middle, working or part of the elite and their class can define much of who they are. Their beliefs, the way they talk, dress and their education can be drawn from this. I also find that Brits tend to draw on the working class when they while Americans look to their middle class.

There are some other differences, Brits tend to be cynical and their humor is more ironic and self deprecating while American tend to be more energetic and positive and their humor is more observational.

Not sure I agree with that last sentence. Much British humour is observational, look at the success of The Office for example. We are definitely more cynical than you lot though! Oh and there is no extra 'u' in humour. There is one....

Sent from my GT-I9300 using Tapatalk

Title: Re: Re: Very British or Very American.... what do these even mean?
Post by: Arry on November 08, 2013, 08:59:27 AM
Oh and there is no extra 'u' in humour. There is one....

Hmmm.... ;)
Title: Re: Very British or Very American.... what do these even mean?
Post by: Arry on November 08, 2013, 09:30:24 AM
I have to say I can't see if the difference in the writing is because of the author's writing style or his cultural background (one is heavily influenced by the other of course). I notice that Pratchett writes different than Williams (for example) but how much of it is the author and how much is the country I have no idea.

I think this is true for me with the exception of word choice. While all American, there are huge differences in the writings of Goodkind, Sanderson, Lynch, Weeks, Butcher, Rothfuss, Hobb, Guy Gavriel Kay, Charlaine Harris. Same with British authors: Gaiman, Abercrombie, Rowling, Pratchett.  I could go on. With the exception of words like lift/apartment, or spelling differences, I haven't noticed anything that would make me feel I could guess where an author is from. Maybe it's because I read primarily medieval based fantasy. Or maybe its because as an American, I am immune to the Americisms and blind/ignorant of the Britishisms.
Title: Re: Very British or Very American.... what do these even mean?
Post by: Eclipse on November 08, 2013, 11:29:35 AM
When reading medieval fantasy I prefer British words to American  if i came across an American word it throws me out of the story for a tiny bit but i don't mind it in anything else  :) , I apologize no I mean apologise  :)

What is Kool aid? is it like an orange fizzy drink?

When I went to Florida once I asked for a plaster for a cut on  the finger there didn't know what I was on about I had to mime ,oh you mean a band aid  ;)

is baked beans on toast just a british thing? People in the UK eat over 90% of the world's tinned baked beans - See more at: http://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/en/overcooked/beans-toast#sthash.oKsdqYqS.dpuf
Title: Re: Very British or Very American.... what do these even mean?
Post by: Arakasi on November 08, 2013, 11:47:27 AM
I have to say I can't see if the difference in the writing is because of the author's writing style or his cultural background (one is heavily influenced by the other of course). I notice that Pratchett writes different than Williams (for example) but how much of it is the author and how much is the country I have no idea.

I think this is true for me with the exception of word choice. While all American, there are huge differences in the writings of Goodkind, Sanderson, Lynch, Weeks, Butcher, Rothfuss, Hobb, Guy Gavriel Kay, Charlaine Harris. Same with British authors: Gaiman, Abercrombie, Rowling, Pratchett.  I could go on. With the exception of words like lift/apartment, or spelling differences, I haven't noticed anything that would make me feel I could guess where an author is from. Maybe it's because I read primarily medieval based fantasy. Or maybe its because as an American, I am immune to the Americisms and blind/ignorant of the Britishisms.

While I don't disagree that in general there is more difference between the authors than between how much their nationalities influence their writing. However, Terry Pratchett's books could only be British and J.K. Rowling books could only be British. It's something that is difficult to put my finger on, but their worlds they build feel a little cluttered and a well worn.
Title: Re: Very British or Very American.... what do these even mean?
Post by: Lejays17 on November 08, 2013, 12:14:38 PM

is baked beans on toast just a british thing? People in the UK eat over 90% of the world's tinned baked beans - See more at: http://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/en/overcooked/beans-toast#sthash.oKsdqYqS.dpuf

Nope, I eat them here is Aus, Elfy doesn't though, so make of that what you will  :D


This is a fascinating discussion, I can generally see the difference between American & British authors, but I can't really tell you what exactly (apart from the obvious spellings & word choices).  There's just a feeling I get from it.
Title: Re: Very British or Very American.... what do these even mean?
Post by: ScarletBea on November 08, 2013, 01:00:38 PM
Reading all these replies, I suddenly realised that I've only used/felt books as *too american*. Maybe because the other source I read is english, and that is closer to my feelings so don't notice the difference?
(I don't think I've read more than 1% of my yearly books in my mother tongue since I was 15-16...)

Books for me are all about feelings, and it's only when they grate against my inner core that I have to find words for the reason why.
I guess, because I could be just saying silly things, hehe


And speaking about beans on toast, I only discovered them when I got together with my ex (english) - since moving here I've embraced it wholeheartedly, yummy ;D
Title: Re: Very British or Very American.... what do these even mean?
Post by: Arry on November 08, 2013, 01:14:05 PM
OK, I am really curious about this. I put up a poll on my blog because I'd like to get response from users beyond the forum as well.

http://www.tenaciousreader.com/2013/11/08/very-american-or-very-british-can-you-tell-the-difference/
Title: AW: Re: Very British or Very American.... what do these even mean?
Post by: xiagan on November 08, 2013, 01:16:51 PM
I have to say I can't see if the difference in the writing is because of the author's writing style or his cultural background (one is heavily influenced by the other of course). I notice that Pratchett writes different than Williams (for example) but how much of it is the author and how much is the country I have no idea.

I think this is true for me with the exception of word choice. While all American, there are huge differences in the writings of Goodkind, Sanderson, Lynch, Weeks, Butcher, Rothfuss, Hobb, Guy Gavriel Kay, Charlaine Harris. Same with British authors: Gaiman, Abercrombie, Rowling, Pratchett.  I could go on. With the exception of words like lift/apartment, or spelling differences, I haven't noticed anything that would make me feel I could guess where an author is from. Maybe it's because I read primarily medieval based fantasy. Or maybe its because as an American, I am immune to the Americisms and blind/ignorant of the Britishisms.
However, Terry Pratchett's books could only be British and J.K. Rowling books could only be British. It's something that is difficult to put my finger on, but their worlds they build feel a little cluttered and a well worn.
like the Name of the wind? ;)
Title: Re: AW: Re: Very British or Very American.... what do these even mean?
Post by: Arakasi on November 08, 2013, 02:03:20 PM
I have to say I can't see if the difference in the writing is because of the author's writing style or his cultural background (one is heavily influenced by the other of course). I notice that Pratchett writes different than Williams (for example) but how much of it is the author and how much is the country I have no idea.

I think this is true for me with the exception of word choice. While all American, there are huge differences in the writings of Goodkind, Sanderson, Lynch, Weeks, Butcher, Rothfuss, Hobb, Guy Gavriel Kay, Charlaine Harris. Same with British authors: Gaiman, Abercrombie, Rowling, Pratchett.  I could go on. With the exception of words like lift/apartment, or spelling differences, I haven't noticed anything that would make me feel I could guess where an author is from. Maybe it's because I read primarily medieval based fantasy. Or maybe its because as an American, I am immune to the Americisms and blind/ignorant of the Britishisms.
However, Terry Pratchett's books could only be British and J.K. Rowling books could only be British. It's something that is difficult to put my finger on, but their worlds they build feel a little cluttered and a well worn.
like the Name of the wind? ;)

Good point! The murky and filthy streets and alleys of Tarbean where Kvothe settled in when he became a feral street child, was almost Dickensian.
Title: Re: Very British or Very American.... what do these even mean?
Post by: ladybritches on November 08, 2013, 04:25:21 PM


While I don't disagree that in general there is more difference between the authors than between how much their nationalities influence their writing. However, Terry Pratchett's books could only be British and J.K. Rowling books could only be British. It's something that is difficult to put my finger on, but their worlds they build feel a little cluttered and a well worn.

I find this interesting, because when I read Rowling's "The Casual Vacancy", I thought she could have been using my town as her reference, and I live in the middle of the U.S.  :)
Title: Re: Very British or Very American.... what do these even mean?
Post by: DBASKLS on November 08, 2013, 05:21:09 PM
When reading medieval fantasy I prefer British words to American  if i came across an American word it throws me out of the story for a tiny bit but i don't mind it in anything else  :)

That's exactly what I was trying to say only Eclipse said it better!

It's funny there are some word differences I'm OK with, elevator - no problem, faucet - just can't be doing with that word, fag(got) - well that's just hilarious, isn't there a sellotape/durex difference as well or is that an urban myth?

Interestingly in The Dirty Streets if Heaven
there is a Brit reference as some of the minor characters are Brits and I really enjoyed that bit. It was done well and made me look up what nationality Tad Williams is (he's American).

Oh yeah and biscuits!!
Title: Re: Very British or Very American.... what do these even mean?
Post by: EricaDakin on November 08, 2013, 06:45:16 PM
This is a really interesting discussion! Kind of lost track of specifics, so I'll just throw in some general personal observations.

- When I first started reading The Lies of Locke Lamora I noticed that words were spelled the British way. This confused me a little, and made me wonder whether Scott Lynch was British. I have no idea why that would have surprised me, but obviously there was something to his writing that didn't strike me as British. Since he is American, I presume that Gollancz just chose to use the British spelling for the books for the British market. How many times can I put the word British in here? Sheesh...
- Cultural differences can be very pronounced, for all that people are much the same wherever they come from. Arry, you say you prefer sarcasm etc., but I'd say that makes you an unusual American, because in general (very general) sarcasm just isn't much of an American thing. My colleagues often remark on how direct I am, which they see as a very Dutch thing. When they first told me this I was very surprised, because it's not something I'd ever noticed or considered. We always have (good-natured) ribbing going on about how I feel the Brits are too polite and should stop apologising for everything and should learn how to take compliments, while they dismiss everything weird (to them) I do with 'oh, she's Dutch'. I also always tell them that you have to have been born in Britain to appreciate things like beans on toast and custard (ewwww on both counts).

It certainly isn't something that bothers me in books, and with someone like Robin Hobb I could have believed she came from anywhere, but there just is a specific feel to certain books that firmly puts them into a country camp.
Title: Re: Very British or Very American.... what do these even mean?
Post by: DBASKLS on November 08, 2013, 07:35:18 PM
I also always tell them that you have to have been born in Britain to appreciate things like beans on toast and custard (ewwww on both counts).

Seriously surely everyone likes beans on toast no matter where they are from? It's a staple! Admittedly custard can be bad if made wrong!

It certainly isn't something that bothers me in books, and with someone like Robin Hobb I could have believed she came from anywhere, but there just is a specific feel to certain books that firmly puts them into a country camp.

I think that is one of the things that makes Robin Hobb such a good writer, that she can distance herself from any language/cultural nuances and make her world the world.


Title: Re: Very British or Very American.... what do these even mean?
Post by: Arry on November 08, 2013, 07:50:29 PM
Arry, you say you prefer sarcasm etc., but I'd say that makes you an unusual American, because in general (very general) sarcasm just isn't much of an American thing.

I think I might disagree here. Sarcasm is very prevalent here. It's just some section of society considers it rude or crude …  That means it is not used quite as much when interacting with people you don't know well.  Also, there are definitely people that just do not get sarcasm at all. I have decided it's easier to not talk to a couple of my in laws because translating and explaining everything I say (and what I actually mean) to them is rather painful. But I think they are in the vast minority. There is a ton of sarcasm on TV and in movies and in real life.  The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, Curb Your Enthusiasm, South Park …

http://www.southparkstudios.com/clips/k9a8o3/how-about-we-call-it-sarcastaball

Also, I found this article:
 
"Two Brits-in-America discuss Americans and their use of sarcasm (or lack thereof)."
http://www.bbcamerica.com/mind-the-gap/2013/02/05/debate-are-americans-sarcasm-literate/

:)

Myself, I have rarely set foot out of the States, so I can't compare the level of sarcasm. But I can tell you that it exists here. Oh, and its in books. Surely someone has noticed the sarcasm in ASoIaF, Gentleman Bastards, The Magicians, Joe Hill's books and if not his books, then perhaps his tweets.

Title: Re: Very British or Very American.... what do these even mean?
Post by: Arry on November 08, 2013, 07:51:37 PM
Seriously surely everyone likes beans on toast no matter where they are from?
???
Title: Re: Re: Re: Very British or Very American.... what do these even mean?
Post by: joshfishkins on November 08, 2013, 08:37:02 PM
Oh and there is no extra 'u' in humour. There is one....

Hmmm.... ;)

Damn your mathematically accurate post...
Title: Re: Re: Re: Very British or Very American.... what do these even mean?
Post by: Arry on November 08, 2013, 08:38:44 PM
Damn your mathematically accurate post...

 ;D
Title: Re: Very British or Very American.... what do these even mean?
Post by: DBASKLS on November 08, 2013, 09:11:30 PM
I love this thread!!!

One thing I mentioned at the time when reading The Folding Knife was the use of the word disabled rather than the more politically incorrect crippled which you usually find in fantasy novels. I assume disabled is a word used in America, it certainly is in Britain. I found this just as strange as using very American words because it didn't seem to fit with a fantasy novel.

Also different publishers, I imagine, will change language for their audience. If they go around changing titles of books at the drop of a hat they are going to re-word bits they don't think their audience will understand too. So maybe that accounts for some people not finding books to be specifically British or American?
Title: Re: Very British or Very American.... what do these even mean?
Post by: Arry on November 08, 2013, 09:32:37 PM
I love this thread!!!
;D Me too.


Quote
Also different publishers, I imagine, will change language for their audience. If they go around changing titles of books at the drop of a hat they are going to re-word bits they don't think their audience will understand too. So maybe that accounts for some people not finding books to be specifically British or American?

The do change words. I know when I read Neverwhere I was shocked to see the word soccer. Especially as it is set in London. When I brought it up, someone referred to this (Taken from Slashdot interview with Neil Gaiman (http://news.slashdot.org/story/03/11/03/1349252/neil-gaiman-responds))

Quote
6) As a Brit living in the US I feel very aware of... - by exp(pi*sqrt(163))
....how you tailor your writing to which side of the Atlantic your intended audience is on. When I read Neverwhere it was the US edition and clearly contained language and explanations that would seem a little inappropriate to readers in the UK. Do you carry out your own 'translations' of your books? What differences do you see between American and British audiences to which you need to adapt? And how involved are you in the translations to other languages and hence cultures?

Neil:
I try to stay on top of the US and the UK editions of books (sometimes I fail). Neverwhere needed quite some work for the US readership, which I did 98% of, and the other 2% was done without my knowledge. (For example -- I kept the word "flat" for where Richard lived, in my US version. It's not a universally common US word, but it's comprehensible. The US editors unilaterally decided to change the word to "apartment" and did a universal find-and-replace, and in the bound galleys that were sent to reviewers there were people who believed the Earth was apartment and people started to say things apartmently.)

I'll happily change words when they mean different things -- a pavement in the UK is what an American would call the sidewalk, while the pavement in the US is what Brit would regard as the road. If I have a girl bleeding on the pavement in the US edition, the meaning has changed, so I'm happy to move her to the sidewalk.

A phrase like "It's all a bit of a pantomime," would mean something very different in the US to the UK -- and not in a way that would make a reader stop and realise that English Panto is a long way from "mime".

The first time it happened was with Terry Pratchett, when the US editor wanted us to explain things like Firelighters and English Currency in Good Omens, but we had so much fun with all the extra footnotes and things they crept back into the UK edition. So the Gollancz first edition hardback has fewer footnotes and a slightly darker plot than the current paperback versions on either side of the Atlantic. There were other differences -- Terry changed my Cheers joke to a Golden Girls joke, because he didn't watch Cheers but quite liked the Golden Girls, and I changed my demons dance like the English band in the Eurovision Song Contest line to one about demons dancing like a white band on Soul Train because I suspected Eurovision Song Contests gags might not play in Des Moines.

Stardust I worked hard to keep the same -- even down to the spelling of grey. The UK edition of American Gods isn't the same as the US edition -- partly because I got the galley proofs back a week apart and I was fairly punctilious about making sure that the US version contained as few anglicisms as possible, but much less bothered if the occasional stray "car park" instead of "parking lot" crept into the UK text.

As for other countries -- I'll answer questions from the translators, but with the exception of the French, I'm not up enough in any other language to have any idea of whether or not it's a decent translation, so I'll rely on reader feedback. (Mostly it's pretty good. I keep hearing that the Spanish version of American Gods is a fairly problematic book, though.)

A lot of the time the translators are the unsung heroes, as they take enormous pleasure in pointing out to me when I meet them in person and find myself apologising for hinging so much of American Gods on the several meanings of the word "trunk", or starting all the names of the Endless with D.

I can be fairly certain that when I win awards in other countries for the fiction I owe my translators a great deal.

So … am I suppose to be spelling grey "gray"? Not doing it. Grey has an e. (I don't think there is consistency here. People seem to spell it different ways and both are technically acceptable).

Oh … and changing a Cheers joke to a Golden Girls joke? That makes me sad.
Title: Re: Very British or Very American.... what do these even mean?
Post by: Eclipse on November 08, 2013, 09:55:29 PM
I didn't know that about grey

Earl gray tea doesn't have the same ring to it  :)

I guess pantomime is very British  :)

ok i googled gray and gray are a different shade of umm grey? http://www.greyorgray.com/
Title: Re: Very British or Very American.... what do these even mean?
Post by: Elfy on November 08, 2013, 11:52:29 PM
Admittedly custard can be bad if made wrong!


And when eaten with fish fingers, or is that a Time Lord thing only?
Title: Re: Very British or Very American.... what do these even mean?
Post by: EricaDakin on November 09, 2013, 09:01:32 AM
Beans on toast is vile (baked beans in general are vile!) and custard is the Devil's sperm.  >:( My husband has to smuggle it into our shopping cart if he wants any.
Title: Re: Very British or Very American.... what do these even mean?
Post by: ScarletBea on November 09, 2013, 09:49:53 AM
No no no: I love baked beans AND custard :D

(Edit: deleting the rest, realised not very relevant after all)
Title: Re: Very British or Very American.... what do these even mean?
Post by: Nighteyes on November 09, 2013, 11:58:51 AM
Well Britain a couple of generations ago was the most powerful nation in the world and had an empire that covered a big part of the world. Now we are a tiny Island nation trading on past glories. We invented pop music with the Beatles you know. On the other hand the USA is for the time being the world's most powerful country.  As a result we have slightly different mind sets. Us Brits are cynical and jaded, while Americans tend to be more gung ho and patriotic.   Sweeping generalisations I know but a good example of the differences is in the two versions of the Office. There is no redemption for anyone in the UK version.  They are all horrendous prats that are put on screen purely for us to laugh at. In the American version though the show is no where near as black. Michael Scott might be a bit of a plonker but he is usually given some form of redemption by the end of each episode and has grown a bit as a character. 

My final thought to add is that I can simply never imagine Abercrombie as American nor Sanderson as as British.
Title: Re: Very British or Very American.... what do these even mean?
Post by: Justan Henner on November 09, 2013, 05:17:01 PM
Beans on toast is vile (baked beans in general are vile!) and custard is the Devil's sperm.  >:( My husband has to smuggle it into our shopping cart if he wants any.

If you don't like baked beans, then you haven't put enough bacon in them.

I think I notice Britishisms much more on British TV than I do in books. The only one I remember off the top of my head from a book is 'snog' in Harry Potter books, which, maybe because it's too close to snot, or maybe it's the hard 'og' at the end, but it has always sounded disgusting to me. The picture I get when I hear that word is Ron blowing his nose into Hermione's hair.
Title: Re: Very British or Very American.... what do these even mean?
Post by: Elfy on November 09, 2013, 10:52:55 PM
There's actually a British reality show called 'Marry, Snog, Avoid' and I think there was also a YA book that had the word snogging in the title. Is it still used? It never took on here. We preferred the word 'pash', which is also pretty stupid. Americans used to use petting, which always made me think of a dog and I often wondered why it was frowned upon in public and don't even get me started on jelly instead of jam. I used to watch US sitcoms and the kids always had peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and I'm here in Australia thinking 'how does the jelly not melt?' Down here we call jelly what American call jello and what they call jelly we call jam.
Title: Re: Very British or Very American.... what do these even mean?
Post by: Elrook on November 10, 2013, 02:04:06 AM
I dont notice it as much in books but in movies.....

American movies are heavy on violence patriotism (merica), are pretty prudish i.e. they don't have a lot of sex and nakedness and they always have to spell out the message of the film at the end for the audience. Also a completely different sense of humor.

British movies not so much violence they tend towards the opposite of patriotism, there is loads more nakedness bums willies and fanny's everywhere (but not necessary in a sexualised way) and they let the viewer think about what the movie was about. Also a completely different sense of humor.

Title: Re: Very British or Very American.... what do these even mean?
Post by: Doctor_Chill on November 10, 2013, 03:20:18 AM
American movies are heavy on violence patriotism (merica), are pretty prudish i.e. they don't have a lot of sex and nakedness and they always have to spell out the message of the film at the end for the audience. Also a completely different sense of humor.

Somehow I see nothing wrong with this, 'cept maybe the interpretation of the humor. ;)
Title: Re: Very British or Very American.... what do these even mean?
Post by: DBASKLS on November 10, 2013, 11:42:08 AM
British movies not so much violence they tend towards the opposite of patriotism, there is loads more nakedness bums willies and fanny's everywhere (but not necessary in a sexualised way) and they let the viewer think about what the movie was about. Also a completely different sense of humor.

Suppose it depends which films you watch! You get a lot more of this in continental European films!
Title: Re: Very British or Very American.... what do these even mean?
Post by: Arakasi on November 10, 2013, 01:55:13 PM
Much of how we see these books are down to our preconceptions and expectations. For example when I read the Witcher for the first time I couldn't forget I was reading a book from Eastern Europe and that colored my perception of the book. Rightly or wrongly, I would say the same in regards to male or female authors as well as their nationalities and period it was written in: When comparing a American sci-fi novel from the 1960's with a modern day sci-fi written by someone such as Ian Banks I will have different expectations from of both.

However, many of our preconceptions of the U.S. and the U.K. are generally wrong. You may even live in one of these countries but I guarantee that most people don't have a grasp of the profound changes that have happened within their own country over the last 20 years. Many peoples views and opinions of the place they live and of the world at large were formed when we were much younger and have remained very much the same. I left the UK to work abroad and came back to find the place had changed a ridiculous amount in the 12 years I was away. But for those living there little had changed. But in truth their ideas and images of the UK where already out-dated.

I think that just perhaps, that our ideas of what makes an a American or British book have a particular accent in a more globalized and hegemonized world, may be due to our expectations rather than reflecting cultural traits. If JK Rowling decided to write a book set in NY rather than London and used the pen name Randy Williams I doubt many of us would spot that she was a British writer writing about America.
Title: Re: Very British or Very American.... what do these even mean?
Post by: Sean Cunningham on November 10, 2013, 06:06:01 PM
Look at the way apocalyptic scenarios are depicted in American and British fiction. American fiction will give you World War Z. British fiction will give you 28 Days Later.

(And Australia will give you Daybreakers (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0433362/) and Undead (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0339840/).)
Title: Re: Very British or Very American.... what do these even mean?
Post by: HAnthe on November 12, 2013, 06:27:09 PM
As an American, writing things like distances and heights, I worry about using inches, feet, miles...  The U.S. being one of only three countries that don't use the metric system, it feels a little internationally awkward.  Will all you non-Americans understand what I mean?!  At the same time, I'm terrible at visualizing anything in metric.  I think a meter is around a yard long....

Also, pants.  My beta reader Erica, being over there in Britain (hi Erica!), would laugh at me if I used pants for what I actually mean when I say pants.  So I try not to use them.

Does anyone else agonize over how things will be translated into other languages/regions, if they ever do get there?  Like worry that your puns or other jokes won't make sense, or that you've tripped into a name that means something awkward?  I was most amused when I learned that Joe Hill's NOS4A2 is NOS4R2 in the U.K....
Title: Re: Very British or Very American.... what do these even mean?
Post by: Elfy on November 12, 2013, 07:43:50 PM
I get Imperial measurements more than I get the metric system. I mean I know both, because we've been using metrics for years, but I grew up with parents who were totally immersed in the Imperial system, so I understood it better. Somehow saying someone is 6 feet 4 inches tall makes more sense to me than saying the same person is 194 cm's. Even now in Australia we seem to use both systems. It's an interesting thing to explore in a fantasy, having a system of weights, heights, distance, etc...
Title: Re: Very British or Very American.... what do these even mean?
Post by: ScarletBea on November 12, 2013, 08:22:26 PM
It's an interesting thing to explore in a fantasy, having a system of weights, heights, distance, etc...

Definitely, but then how would the author transmit the scale to the reader without a baseline?
Rothfuss did that with the currency system, and I believe other authors have done the same, but currency is easier to create because it doesn't require the reader to imagine it against something 'real'. With a few choice sentences you can set up the whole system, by saying how much normal items cost (for example food, or a sword, or a ransom...).

Oh wait, maybe the same could be used for weight, height, distance - "he was a short man, only 8 flibbets high" or something like that, so that when next the author writes "she saw a horse coming towards her, fully 20 flibbets high" you can see in your brain something huge.
Title: Re: Very British or Very American.... what do these even mean?
Post by: Vincent_Quill on November 12, 2013, 11:44:06 PM
As an Irish person who's only ever used the metric system, I can say that without exception the most annoying Americanism is temperature.

Any time in American television, books, movies, anything, where they mention a temperature I automatically think in Celsius and the figure is ridiculous, and because they also say 'degrees' I usually forget that it's in Fahrenheit! 
Title: Re: Very British or Very American.... what do these even mean?
Post by: Justan Henner on November 12, 2013, 11:51:08 PM
As an Irish person who's only ever used the metric system, I can say that without exception the most annoying Americanism is temperature.

Any time in American television, books, movies, anything, where they mention a temperature I automatically think in Celsius and the figure is ridiculous, and because they also say 'degrees' I usually forget that it's in Fahrenheit!

As an American, I have the same problem with Celsius, except the amount is always absurdly low. Like when they say, its 21 degrees, and I'm like, "Wow that's cold, where's the snow/ice?" and then realize that is like mid seventies Fahrenheit, and not even close to the freezing point.
Title: Re: Very British or Very American.... what do these even mean?
Post by: graveyardhag on November 13, 2013, 11:05:15 AM
Here is a tangently related thing
I read a series last year, written by an Australian author, set in an Australian city, the protagonist and everyone else in the book was Australian. I am Australian, I purchased the book from an Australian bookshop.
She called her mum, mom.
She walked on a sidewalk.
She lived in an apartment.
and there was so much else that was all americanised.
Frankly I am surprised they didn't have her driving on the right (which is to say, the wrong) side of the road.

Publishers, if you are reading this. Don't do that.
Title: Re: Very British or Very American.... what do these even mean?
Post by: DBASKLS on November 13, 2013, 11:41:51 AM
I picked up a Dick Francis book in San Francisco once as it was in the bargain bin for $1. Dick Francis is quintisentially English and it was hilarious reading a book that was published for the American audience. I'd have probably been annoyed if I'd paid more than $1 for it!

Saying that, publishers will change books not just for nationality reasons. I remember reading Enid Blyton books as a child when all the currency was £sd and then picking up the modern version to find it was £p. I find that annoying as surely the currency should be consistent with the time that the story is set. It's interesting social history for the children of today to learn about pre-decimal currency. In fact with The Magic Faraway Tree series the modern versions have the name of some of the characters changed  >:(
Title: Re: Very British or Very American.... what do these even mean?
Post by: DBASKLS on November 13, 2013, 11:56:12 AM
A friend just posted this on FB. It may go some way to explain differences!

http://www.boredpanda.com/fun-maps-they-didnt-teach-you-in-school/
Title: Re: Very British or Very American.... what do these even mean?
Post by: Elfy on November 13, 2013, 07:45:48 PM
Here is a tangently related thing
I read a series last year, written by an Australian author, set in an Australian city, the protagonist and everyone else in the book was Australian. I am Australian, I purchased the book from an Australian bookshop.
She called her mum, mom.
She walked on a sidewalk.
She lived in an apartment.
and there was so much else that was all americanised.
Frankly I am surprised they didn't have her driving on the right (which is to say, the wrong) side of the road.

Publishers, if you are reading this. Don't do that.
That would turn me off. I know of a few Australian authors, mostly they set their books elsewhere, so they don't have this pop up. Catherine Jinks is one that doesn't and I don't believe she does the above. It is possible that the publisher made changes for the foreign market. I know the word rissoles in the film The Castle was overdubbed to say meatloaf when it was released in the US, because there was a belief that the film goers over there wouldn't know what rissoles were.
Title: Re: Very British or Very American.... what do these even mean?
Post by: Arry on November 13, 2013, 08:00:19 PM
I know the word rissoles in the film The Castle was overdubbed to say meatloaf when it was released in the US, because there was a belief that the film goers over there wouldn't know what rissoles were.
I don't know what rissoles are. But I would think I could gather enough from context for them to not have to change the word. I was perplexed when I read Neverwhere, set in London, and they kept saying 'soccer'. I know I call it soccer, but that doesn't mean that I can't understand that not everyone calls it that.

I found it interesting to read some of David Walliam's books to my son. They have only released e-book versions in the US and have not updated any words in it. I actually liked this as it was an opportunity for him to learn a bit about differences in language between countries/cultures. Personally I wish that was the standard (although, it is trickier when the same word has different meanings)
Title: Re: Very British or Very American.... what do these even mean?
Post by: xiagan on November 13, 2013, 08:54:15 PM
As an American, I have the same problem with Celsius, except the amount is always absurdly low. Like when they say, its 21 degrees, and I'm like, "Wow that's cold, where's the snow/ice?" and then realize that is like mid seventies Fahrenheit, and not even close to the freezing point.
At least you only have to remember that 100 is water cooking and 0 water freezing to get an idea what a °C means. ;)
Title: Re: Very British or Very American.... what do these even mean?
Post by: EricaDakin on November 13, 2013, 10:47:04 PM
As an Irish person who's only ever used the metric system, I can say that without exception the most annoying Americanism is temperature.

Any time in American television, books, movies, anything, where they mention a temperature I automatically think in Celsius and the figure is ridiculous, and because they also say 'degrees' I usually forget that it's in Fahrenheit!

God, yes! After 14 years in Britain I can handle imperial measurements (though metric is still far more logical to me), but Fahrenheit? Never managed to get my head around it. Glad they've mostly abandoned it here.
Title: Re: Very British or Very American.... what do these even mean?
Post by: graveyardhag on November 13, 2013, 11:38:51 PM
I know the word rissoles in the film The Castle was overdubbed to say meatloaf when it was released in the US, because there was a belief that the film goers over there wouldn't know what rissoles were.
I don't know what rissoles are. But I would think I could gather enough from context for them to not have to change the word.
Really big meatballs, with onion and other yummies,  in yummy yummy sauce. Not generally eaten with any kind of pasta.
I prefer porcupines myself.
Title: Re: Very British or Very American.... what do these even mean?
Post by: DBASKLS on November 14, 2013, 04:46:18 PM
I thought rissoles had rice in them or am I thinking of rissotto?
Title: Re: Very British or Very American.... what do these even mean?
Post by: ScarletBea on November 14, 2013, 05:48:27 PM
Yes, you're probably thinking of risotto.

And funny, because "rissol" in portuguese is nothing like meatballs, it's a sort of fried pastry-thingie with fillings, usually shrimp or meat. I've never found them anywhere else in the world (it's one of those things I always ask my mum to cook for me when I go visit parents in home country hehe) and I had no idea there were "rissoles" in America :)

Title: Re: Very British or Very American.... what do these even mean?
Post by: Justan Henner on November 14, 2013, 05:53:55 PM
At least you only have to remember that 100 is water cooking and 0 water freezing to get an idea what a °C means. ;)

that is convenient, but I'd have to know boiling temperature in Fahrenheit for that to work, which I'll admit, I do not. (I think it's the very high setting on my stove, however hot that is.)
Title: Re: Very British or Very American.... what do these even mean?
Post by: Eclipse on December 09, 2013, 05:21:06 PM
As it's near Christmas do you eat mince pies like we do in the UK  in America/Australia?

Title: Re: Very British or Very American.... what do these even mean?
Post by: Dan D Jones on December 09, 2013, 06:11:22 PM
A difference that bugs the heck out of me is that British writing uses the plural verb form for collectives, like a company or a team.  ("Cambridge are winning the boat race" rather than "Cambridge is winning the boat race.")  It simply grates on my ear and tends to pull me out of whatever I'm reading.  To be clear, I'm quite aware that this is simply a matter of convention - there is no right or wrong way to do it except within the context of a particular culture.  A collective is a singular thing made up of multiple components and one can provide a cogent argument for either choice.  I'm sure that British readers find the American tradition of using the singular verb form just as jarring.  But knowing this abstractly doesn't stop me from cringing every time I read such a sentence.
Title: Re: Very British or Very American.... what do these even mean?
Post by: HAnthe on December 09, 2013, 06:27:47 PM
Pretty sure mince pies are not a thing most Americans know of, let alone eat.  Savory pies aren't very common here, and mixed meat and fruit is not a frequent combo.  Seems like in America, meaty things are very meaty; sweet things are very sweet.  Unless you have a pretty international palate, they stay separate.

We are also terrified of fruitcake, apparently.
Title: Re: Very British or Very American.... what do these even mean?
Post by: Dan D Jones on December 09, 2013, 06:51:13 PM
We are also terrified of fruitcake, apparently.

Aren't all rational people?
Title: Re: Very British or Very American.... what do these even mean?
Post by: DBASKLS on December 09, 2013, 08:02:57 PM
mixed meat and fruit is not a frequent combo. 

There isn't any meat in mince pies :)

http://www.deliaonline.com/recipes/main-ingredient/mincemeat/home-made-christmas-mincemeat.html

A difference that bugs the heck out of me is that British writing uses the plural verb form for collectives, like a company or a team.  ("Cambridge are winning the boat race" rather than "Cambridge is winning the boat race.") 

Hmmm interesting that. I'm currently doing a Business Studies course and when writing essays I have to be careful to use the third person singular when referring to a specific company, e.g. Tesco is hoping for a bumper Christmas rather than Tesco are. As this was pointed out to me as part of my course, one could suggest it is bad grammar on our part. I do frequently find myself correcting my work for that, so it certainly doesn't come naturally.
Title: Re: Very British or Very American.... what do these even mean?
Post by: EricaDakin on December 09, 2013, 08:19:13 PM

There isn't any meat in mince pies :)


Which was a bit of a shock when I first tried one! 'Would you like a mince pie?' someone innocently asked me. 'Why, sure!' I replied, delighted, for I love savoury snacks. Disappointment ruled that day...
Title: Re: Very British or Very American.... what do these even mean?
Post by: Elfy on December 09, 2013, 09:34:35 PM
The things we eat down here for Christmas are often odd, because it takes place in summer. Some people do make concessions to the weather and alter their Christmas menu accordingly, but most of us go with the old fashioned roast Christmas dinner. There's a song by Australian singer Paul Kelly called Making Gravy, which is a story about someone who has been imprisoned and is going to miss Christmas dinner with his family, it contains the line: 'They say it's gonna be a hundred degrees, even more maybe, but that won't stop the roast.'
Title: Re: Very British or Very American.... what do these even mean?
Post by: HAnthe on December 10, 2013, 05:22:43 AM
My web search to find out what was in a mince pie lied to me!  Or else I just didn't read closely enough (granted, I was skimming and most interested in the historical stuff like this: http://whatscookingamerica.net/History/PieHistory/MincemeatPie.htm (http://whatscookingamerica.net/History/PieHistory/MincemeatPie.htm)).

So...American ignorance plus internet vagaries = I will never try to write anything that requires me to think like a Brit.
Title: Re: Very British or Very American.... what do these even mean?
Post by: graveyardhag on December 10, 2013, 07:55:20 AM
The things we eat down here for Christmas are often odd, because it takes place in summer. Some people do make concessions to the weather and alter their Christmas menu accordingly, but most of us go with the old fashioned roast Christmas dinner. There's a song by Australian singer Paul Kelly called Making Gravy, which is a story about someone who has been imprisoned and is going to miss Christmas dinner with his family, it contains the line: 'They say it's gonna be a hundred degrees, even more maybe, but that won't stop the roast.'

It's cold seafood and cold meats here lol. Mind you it is a fair bit hotter up my way!
Title: Re: Very British or Very American.... what do these even mean?
Post by: DBASKLS on December 10, 2013, 04:44:42 PM
My web search to find out what was in a mince pie lied to me!  Or else I just didn't read closely enough (granted, I was skimming and most interested in the historical stuff like this: http://whatscookingamerica.net/History/PieHistory/MincemeatPie.htm (http://whatscookingamerica.net/History/PieHistory/MincemeatPie.htm)).

So...American ignorance plus internet vagaries = I will never try to write anything that requires me to think like a Brit.

LOL! To be fair I suspect there was meat in them at one point but not nowadays  :)
Title: Re: Very British or Very American.... what do these even mean?
Post by: Elfy on December 10, 2013, 11:35:06 PM
The things we eat down here for Christmas are often odd, because it takes place in summer. Some people do make concessions to the weather and alter their Christmas menu accordingly, but most of us go with the old fashioned roast Christmas dinner. There's a song by Australian singer Paul Kelly called Making Gravy, which is a story about someone who has been imprisoned and is going to miss Christmas dinner with his family, it contains the line: 'They say it's gonna be a hundred degrees, even more maybe, but that won't stop the roast.'

It's cold seafood and cold meats here lol. Mind you it is a fair bit hotter up my way!
On the beach?
Title: Re: Very British or Very American.... what do these even mean?
Post by: Eclipse on April 26, 2014, 01:55:02 PM
I've just come across the term Bow-head never heard off it before is it an American term? I've searched google lt means

woman who wears a bow in her hair, who often has an annoyingly perky personality and may be overly intersted in things like her sorority
Title: Re: Very British or Very American.... what do these even mean?
Post by: Arry on April 26, 2014, 01:57:30 PM
I've just come across the term Bow-head never heard off it before is it an American term? I've searched google lt means

woman who wears a bow in her hair, who often has an annoyingly perky personality and may be overly intersted in things like her sorority

Ha! I'm American and can't say I have heard it before, but I can appreciate the need for the term  ;D
Title: Re: Very British or Very American.... what do these even mean?
Post by: Elfy on April 28, 2014, 12:52:01 AM
I've just come across the term Bow-head never heard off it before is it an American term? I've searched google lt means

woman who wears a bow in her hair, who often has an annoyingly perky personality and may be overly intersted in things like her sorority

Ha! I'm American and can't say I have heard it before, but I can appreciate the need for the term  ;D
Sounds a little similar to 'bun head' which is a term for ballet dancers due to the way they wear their hair in a bun. I came to it through the TV show of the same title.
Title: Re: Very British or Very American.... what do these even mean?
Post by: Roxxsmom on May 03, 2014, 08:19:01 AM
Hmm, well, I'm an American. I don't think I've ever rejected a book because it was "too British." Actually, some of my favorite fantasy authors are (and always have been) British. I've enjoyed books in other genres by British authors too, and I can nearly always figure out what things mean from the context. British spellings and punctuation don't bother me at all.

But I may be better versed in Britishness than some of my fellow Yanks, because I've been to the UK a few times (we have some close family friends who live there), and I dated a guy for many years whose dad was British (and who had spent some time living there himself).

The only time I remember feeling like I didn't relate at all to something that was in a book written from the pov of a British character was one where (I don't even remember which book it was now) where everyone was very disapproving that a widow had fallen apart at her husband's funeral. That just seemed odd to me. If you can't break down at your husband's funeral, where can you? It occurred to me that it was about that "stiff upper lip" thing Americans are always hearing about. And the book had been written a fairly long time ago, so maybe it was as much an old-fashioned thing as a British thing?
Title: Re: Very British or Very American.... what do these even mean?
Post by: Eclipse on November 04, 2017, 07:36:19 AM
Anyone read a too American or British book lately? ????

I read a review of K.J Parker where the reviewer liked the book once there got past the British sarcasm/humour of the characters.
Title: Re: Very British or Very American.... what do these even mean?
Post by: Eclipse on January 02, 2020, 08:59:42 AM
Jackass topic Reminded me of this topic.
Title: Re: Very British or Very American.... what do these even mean?
Post by: isos81 on January 02, 2020, 09:17:51 AM
The only difference I'm aware of is the letter "u" in the words. BTW, i prefer to use the letter u even though my pronunciation is more like American.

Oh, and there some distinguishable words like "Bloody" :)
Title: Re: Very British or Very American.... what do these even mean?
Post by: Eclipse on January 02, 2020, 09:26:26 AM
How we laugh at  Americans using the word fanny bags
Title: Re: Very British or Very American.... what do these even mean?
Post by: The Sword in the Tome on January 02, 2020, 06:23:57 PM
Anyone read a too American or British book lately? ????

I read a review of K.J Parker where the reviewer liked the book once there got past the British sarcasm/humour of the characters.
I've only read The Folding Knife by Parker and that was too comedic for me.
Title: Re: Very British or Very American.... what do these even mean?
Post by: NedMarcus on January 03, 2020, 03:32:10 AM
For me very British/American/Any Nationality means the person strongly personifies some of the characteristics/stereotypes of the country. It could be good or bad, and it's usually when they don't see things from the point of view of another culture. Every country has these people; I meet lots when I travel back to the UK.