Sunday, November 20, 2011

On Editing: British Spelling

I'm in the middle of the penultimate proofs on our second book, entitled The Cinema of Terry Gilliam: It's a Mad World

(Again, co-edited with my dear friends and colleagues, Anna Froula of East Carolina University and Karen Randell of Southampton Solent University, UK.  You may remember us from such first co-edited books as, Reframing 9/11: Film, Popular Culture, and the "War on Terror".)

Working on the book (l-r, American, American, Brit), Ocracoke Island, North Carolina, February 2011
We are fortunate to have this book coming out (probably in 2012) from Wallflower Press, an imprint of Columbia University Press.

So far so good...

Here's the catch: Wallflower is in the United Kingdom and their style sheet is in English

Some light shopping at the December '10 San Francisco Dickens Fair(e).
 "But, what's the problem," you ask? "You speak English, Birkenstein, you num(b)skull.  You even dare to teach it, whatever that means," you say.

"Good point," I say.  "Well, I mean, yes and no.  That is, you see, I, uh, usually speak and write American.  And I spell that way, too" 

Something Mark Twain helped us sort out all those years ago in the "Explanatory" to begin Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884 in England; 1885 in the U.S.; h'mmmm, curious):

IN this book a number of dialects are used, to wit: the Missouri negro dialect; the extremest form of the backwoods Southwestern dialect; the ordinary "Pike County" dialect; and four modified varieties of this last. The shadings have not been done in a haphazard fashion, or by guesswork; but painstakingly, and with the trustworthy guidance and support of personal familiarity with these several forms of speech. 

I make this explanation for the reason that without it many readers would suppose that all these characters were trying to talk alike and not succeeding.

So, where was I?  Oh, yes, our penultimate proofs... 

(That's what I'm calling them anyway, which means that they have been edited by our publisher, have been put in book order, and page numbered.  But the manuscript has not yet been put into final proof status, where it looks like the book will actually look--moving from MS Word to Adobe pdf file, to put it simply.)

And these British spellings are driving me crazy (all apologies, Karen; I apologize/apologise).  It's just amazing how different are our two languages, Brit and 'Merican, especially the spelling.  And I'm not even getting into our various words for the same damn things! 

This is something we all know, of course, but until you really get into the weeds...

So, without further ado, here are some of the words I've been dealing with (full disclosure: our editor seems to have caught all of these ahead of time, but I constantly find myself questioning their spelling.  For example, since when does "aging" have "e" in it?)

This whole process, in fact, is ageing me, and I remain sceptical about it all...


Karen says I must remembour that Brits just love extra vowels.

Anyway, I don't have any great points to make, which is no doubt typical of me.  I just love words, all words, despite my pretend frustration, and this process is a joy to be involved in.*


*in which to be involved

1 comment:

  1. Extra Info:

    Here, a fun website on the topic with a lot more spelling differences (and also with Canadian!):