English variety – an aspect of style


Following the theme of my last blog (also a theme in my first blog), here I deal with another aspect of style, namely, language variety. The term language variety covers aspects such as dialect, accent, spelling and punctuation, among others. While there are many varieties of English, such as,
Canadian English, Australian English and South African English, to name a few, British English and American English are the most-used varieties. At the end of this blog, I compare American English (AmE), British (BrE) English and South African English (SAE). In doing so, I focus on the main aspects of variety that apply to writing, rather than those that apply to speaking.

 


An important aspect of writing is considering your audience and the medium of delivery of your message, or text. This, in turn, will determine the language variety that you select. So, for example, if you are an academic based in the United States of America, writing an academic article that you hope to have published in a US-based academic journal, you will select US, or American, English as your language variety, assuming that the style guide of your target publication specifies this variety of English.

 


When you send your article to a copy-editor for editing, it would be useful for you to supply the style guide of your target publication, or to specify the language variety selected for your text.

In many respects South African English is similar to British English, but in others it resembles American English, for example, the -ize endings typical of American English (see ‘Spelling’, below). Because of this and their wide reading of American books, South African copy-editors are well positioned to edit texts in both British and American English. Furthermore, English is the native language of many South Africans.


These factors make South African editors an appealing option when choosing an editor for your text.

An added appeal of using a South African editor is the current favourable exchange rate for many countries. At the time of publication, the rand (ZAR) to dollar (USD) exchange rate is 10.7999:1; for the pound (GBP), it is 18.0070:1; and for the euro (EUR), it is 14.8457:1.  

 


With these factors in mind, it would be worthwhile for you to consider using a South African copy-editor for the next piece you write. 


Comparison of AmE, BrE and SAE
Here, I compare American English, British English and South African English under the headings ‘Spelling’, ‘Punctuation: quotation marks’ and ‘Diction’.

Spelling
Property
American English (AmE)
British English (BrE)
South African English (SAE)
Ending: -ize/-ise
organize
predominantly organise, but also organize
predominantly organize, but also organise
Ending: -ence/-ense
offense
offence
offence
Ending: -ize/-yse
paralyze
paralyse
paralyse
Ending: -ogue/-og
predominantly catalog, but also catalogue
catalogue
catalogue
Ending: -our
labor
labour
labour
Ending: -re
liter
litre
litre
Ending: vowel plus -l
traveler
traveller
traveller


Spelling: double vowels

maneuver
manoeuvre
manoeuvre

Punctuation: quotation marks
The most important difference among the three varieties discussed in terms of punctuation relates to the type of quotation marks used and the positioning of commas relative to the closing quotation mark.
In British and South African English, single quotation marks are used for quotes and titles of unpublished works, chapters of books, lectures, radio and television programmes, short musical works, short poems, short stories and songs. In American English, double quotation marks are used for these.
In British and South African English, single quotation marks are used for quotes, with double quotation marks used for quotes within quotes; in American English the reverse applies.
Concerning commas that form part of the punctuation of a passage – not of the quoted words – in British and South African English, these are placed outside of the closing quotation mark; in American English, these are placed within the closing quotation mark. 

Diction
The relative pronoun which is predominantly used in British English for both defining (or restrictive) and non-defining (or non-restrictive) relative clauses. In American English, the relative pronoun that is used for defining (or restrictive) relative clauses, and which is used for non-defining (or non-restrictive) relative clauses. South African English alternates between these two styles.


By Russell de la Porte
web:
www.writeart.com
email: russell@writeart.com

What is a style guide, and why have one?


In my last blog, I touched on the role of consistency and continuity in signalling a brand’s reliability. This, in turn, builds trust. In a fast-paced world, we tend to turn to brands that are reliable and that we can therefore trust. When organizations repeatedly deliver on their promises, this relationship is cemented.


For organizations, what is the means to establishing and maintaining this consistency and continuity in their written messages? It is the organizational style guide that sets out the various aspects of style – font type and size, language variety (British vs American spelling), and capitalization, to name but a few – for the organization. The style guide can have various names, depending on the environment. In a corporation, it could be called the corporate style guide; for a university department, it may be called the departmental style guide; for a magazine, it is often called the magazine style guide, or sometimes, the publication style guide.


A style guide may be derived from one or more style manuals. Style sheets are used to record new styles that have been required and applied. Thus, style guides are at a hierarchical level between style manuals and style sheets.


Organizational style guides are usually stored centrally, where they can be accessed by the staff who require them. Certain people are usually tasked with overseeing and updating the guide. Their responsibilities include implementing new styles and changes suggested by stakeholders, recorded in style sheets.


Training in copy-editing equips the style guide administrators with the with the necessary skills. WriteArt’s Core Copy-editing Course (with Emphasis on Electronic Document Editing) deals with style extensively and would be a good course for anyone implementing and administering an organizational style guide to take – see WriteArt’s Courses web page for information on this course and the News & Notices page for the next course dates.


Because the work of professional copy-editors involves using style manuals, style guides and style sheets on an ongoing basis, they are well suited to setting up an organization’s style guide, and to consulting on the processes – and with the staff – necessary to maintain it.


If you feel that your company could benefit from developing a style guide, or from having an existing style guide updated, perhaps together with implementing the necessary support structures and processes, contact Russell at WriteArt for more information. WriteArt, a company with years of experience in the copy-editing field, is ideally positioned to offer all of these services.


By Russell de la Porte
web: http://writeart.com.www27.flk1.host-h.net/
email: russell@writeart.com

2014 First-quarter Advanced Language Elective dates

Quarter-one course dates for the online Advanced Language Elective are as follows:

Mornings:
09:00-11:00: 11, 12, 19 April

Evenings:
18:00-20:00: 9, 10, 16 April

Quarter-one course dates for the venue-based Advanced Language Elective are as follows:

Cape Town:
7 February
21 February
28 February
14 March
28 March

To book your place on one of these courses, email info@writeart.com

2014 First-quarter Core Copy-editing and Proofreading Course dates

Quarter-one course dates for the online Core Copy-Editing and Proofreading Course, with Emphasis on Electronic Document Editing are as follows:

Mornings:
09:00-11:00: 4, 11, 18, 25 February; 4, 11 March
09:00-11:00: 18, 25 March; 1, 10, 15, 22 April

Evenings:
18:00-20:00: 4, 11, 18, 25 February; 4, 11 March
09:00-11:00: 18, 25 March; 1, 8, 15, 22 April

Quarter-one course dates for the venue-based Core Copy-Editing and Proofreading Course, with Emphasis on Electronic Document Editing are as follows:

Cape Town:
5-6 February
19-20 February
26-27 February
12-13 March
26-27 March

To book your place on one of these courses, email info@writeart.com

2014 First-quarter Core Writing Course dates

Quarter-one course dates for the online Core Writing Course are as follows:

Mornings:
09:00-11:00: 3, 10, 17, 24 February; 3, 10 March
09:00-11:00: 17, 24, 31 March; 9, 14, 21 April 

Evenings:
18:00-20:00: 3, 10, 17, 24 February; 3, 10 March
18:00-20:00: 10, 17, 24, 31 March; 7, 14, 21 April

Quarter-one course dates for the venue-based Core Writing Course are as follows:

Cape Town:
12-13 February
6-7 March
19-20 March

To book your place on one of these courses, email info@writeart.com

Advanced Language Elective in Cape Town, South Africa: 4 August ’13


Russell de la Porte will present the Advanced Language Elective on 4 August ’13 in Cape Town, South Africa. 

This elective equips participants with an advanced knowledge of the English language. It is aimed at both writers and copy-editors. It adds a level skill that will enable writers and editors to communicate confidently and effectively with their audiences. 

Completion of the Core Copyediting Course is a prerequisite for the Advanced Language Elective. 

For more information, visit www.writeart.com/courses. To make a booking, please email info@writeart.com or call Russell de la Porte on +2782 300 0993. 

Core Copy-editing and Proofreading Course in Cape Town, South Africa: 2-3 August ’13

Russell de la Porte will present the Core Copyediting and Proofreading Course (with Emphasis on Electronic Document Editing) on 2-3 September 2013 in Cape Town, South Africa.

This will be followed by the Advanced Language Elective on 4 September 2013, also in Cape Town, South Africa.

More info

The Core Copyediting Course is aimed at those who want to work as copy-editors or whose work already involves editing documents and publications.

It gives the background to professional copy-editing, explains how to use word processing software to edit, familiarises participants with the necessary tools and resources, and establishes a comprehensive framework for English grammar and punctuation, providing you with a system for developing your expertise in this area.

If you want to launch your career as a freelance copy-editor, this course will equip you with the tools to do so.

Completion of the Core Copyediting Course is a prerequisite for the Advanced Language Elective.

For more information, visit www.writeart.com/courses. To make a booking, please email info@writeart.com or call Russell de la Porte on +2782 300 0993.

Core Copyediting and Proofreading Course and Advanced Language Elective in Cape Town, South Africa: 22-24 July ’13

Russell de la Porte will present the Core Copyediting and Proofreading Course (with Emphasis on Electronic Document Editing) on 22-23 July 2013 in Cape Town, South Africa.

This will be followed by the Advanced Language Elective on 24 July 2013, also in Cape Town, South Africa.

More info

The Core Copyediting Course is aimed at those who want to work as copy-editors or whose work already involves editing documents and publications.

It gives the background to professional copy-editing, explains how to use word processing software to edit, familiarises participants with the necessary tools and resources, and establishes a comprehensive framework for English grammar and punctuation, providing you with a system for developing your expertise in this area.

If you want to launch your career as a freelance copy-editor, this course will equip you with the tools to do so.

Completion of the Core Copyediting Course is a prerequisite for the Advanced Language Elective, which equips course participants with an advanced knowledge of the English language. This elective will add a layer of skill that will elevate your professional value. 
For more information, visit www.writeart.com/courses. To make a booking, please email info@writeart.com or call Russell de la Porte on +2782 300 0993.

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