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Brit-picking mental blocks - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
Brit-picking mental blocks
Chapter Seven of Shades ("Friends and Neighbors") is up at the Quill. I sent it in awhile ago and didn't realize it hadn't gone through. Oh, well. It's there now, in all of its Macarena-including glory. ;)

On the latest installment, antonia_east Brit-picked me on using "fall" for "autumn," which she shouldn't have had to do because I've been Brit-picked on that at least a dozen times. "Autumn" is not a word with which I'm unfamiliar, nor is its use in British English something of which I'm unaware. But I just keep missing it. I'm not emotionally attached to the word "fall" or anything. It's a total mental block. I also have a severe block on the got/gotten thing. Pretty much every time I write, I have to double-check for stray "gotten"s before I post, and I usually find them. And it's something I've given thought to, as I tried to figure out the logic of it and accidentally applied the same rule to "forgotten" last year, only to be told that the logic doesn't apply in that direction, but at any rate, it's something I've thought about. And although I've only made the mistake once, I know sooner or later, I'm going to mess up "holiday" again, because I can't divorce the concept of "holiday" from a specific day around which time off may (or may not) occur, as opposed to a vacation, which might occur at any time.

Anyway, I'm trying. Really. But I really should pick an American fandom next, so I can keep my brain from exploding. Though I noticed in my NaNo novel that my elevators have become lifts, if I'm not careful...
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Comments
starbrow From: starbrow Date: November 17th, 2005 07:32 am (UTC) (Link)
I have the same problem with "fall" and I've now lived through two of them in Scotland. *facepalm*
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 17th, 2005 06:14 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, but you're playing yourself in real life, so you don't have to get it right there... if you were playing at being someone who was born and raised there, it would probably raise a red flag.

Glad I'm not the only one it's a mental block for, though. And I don't even know why!
antonia_east From: antonia_east Date: November 17th, 2005 09:20 am (UTC) (Link)
I noticed in my NaNo novel that my elevators have become lifts, if I'm not careful... All that lift action in 'Shifts' had a lasting effect, then?

As a British reader I've had to get used to Americanisms in HP fanfiction. When I started reading I winced at every 'gotten' whereas now I only get upset when Dudley starts eating Milk Duds. It's just nice to have authors who make the effort to use British terms, and I love that you care about the 'fall's and 'vacations's.

I'm just so glad my fandom's British. My housemate writes Stargate and she can no longer write 'u's in 'colour' and 'favourite'.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 17th, 2005 06:28 pm (UTC) (Link)
All that lift action in 'Shifts' had a lasting effect, then?

All that chanting of, "write lift, write lift, write lift, write ele.. er, lift..." probably did it. ;)

I definitely care about getting setting details right. Truthfully, I wouldn't have guessed that Milk Duds aren't sold there, though. Lots of little holes to fall through over things you don't even think about. And people wonder why we don't then write them taking holidays in yet another country. There was rantage on the Quill about how American writers keep sending them on vacation in America instead of somewhere else... all those somewhere elses are really hard... of course, an American writing from Boston is just as likely to make stupid gaffes Los Angeles as she is about London.

Oh, and hey! on the spelling thing. Spelling is about who the writer is, not who the character is. Having grown up on the Canadian border--Canada uses the British spelling--I promise, "color" and "colour" are pronounced exactly the same way, and you can't tell by talking to someone whether he spells it with a "u." Same with "favor/favour," "flavor/flavour," or "glamor/glamour." If you wrote a Stargate script with the British spelling, the American actors would absolutely pronounce the words as "fayver, glammer," and so on, and it wouldn't take any mental adjustment to do it (unless for some reason they assumed they were supposed to be doing it in an accent, but that wouldn't be clued in by the spelling). "Aluminium," on the other hand, though spelled the same, doesn't even sound like the same word. (We pronounce it "uh-LOOM-uh-num.") There's no logic in it. ;) Your housemate should take pride in British spelling choices! That's just a matter of personal identity.
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From: (Anonymous) Date: November 17th, 2005 09:10 pm (UTC) (Link)
I read the holiday thread on SQ. It is a shame if writers are put off from using locations they can't possibly have visited. I read one piece that had Sirius's arrest set at Brimham Rocks in North Yorkshire. Of course, the chances of having a reader who actually grew up there were probably quite remote but I was totally thrilled that an American had taken the trouble to find out about such a perfect setting, well really for anything Harry Potter but especially for that story. There was something she wrote that a local wouldn't have said but I loved the fact she had done so well on a place she'd only read about and not visited. Anyway none of the characters involved were locals so they wouldn't necessarily have got it right either.

It does give me a bit of a mental jolt when a British character says "gotten" but on the whole I try to appreciate the USA writers who manage to get it right rather than bemoan the mistakes and I can let it go completely in the narrative. I would expect better of a published writer but I think that fanfiction isn't quite the same. Although there is fanfiction of a very high quality (better than some printed authors) it is done on an amateur level and I consider myself lucky that so many talented writers are prepared to share their work.
lilacsigil From: lilacsigil Date: November 18th, 2005 07:15 am (UTC) (Link)
There is an -or/-our pronunciation difference in Australian English, though. For example, the middle syllable in glamorous is shorter and a different sound to the last syllable of glamour. So it has some value somewhere!

People who care about where their characters come from write the best characters - the occasional "fall" when you've put so much effort into the essential nature of the person (including their Britishness) shouldn't bother anyone. Of course, that tiny flaw in someone else's work always looks like a huge gaping hole in your own - I've written American characters (not in HP fandom) and it's the little details that kill.
shake_n_shimmy From: shake_n_shimmy Date: November 17th, 2005 03:38 pm (UTC) (Link)
Pretty much every time I write, I have to double-check for stray "gotten"s before I post, and I usually find them.


I do that all the time. I just can't seem to remember!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 17th, 2005 06:32 pm (UTC) (Link)
I know. Chasing the "gotten"s is a pain. And I just found one in a finished chapter. Sigh. All that reading of Tolkien as a child and I never once noticed any lack of "gotten," though I have to admit, I wasn't looking. It's odd. I never noticed it in Dickens, either, though I read a lot of Dickens when I was little. It's almost invisible, I guess!
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fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 17th, 2005 06:33 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, I agree, and am not about to start "taking holidays" rather than vacations any time soon, but alas, if a character is born and raised thinking of vacations as holidays, then the etymology doesn't matter.
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From: (Anonymous) Date: November 17th, 2005 09:11 pm (UTC) (Link)
I forgot to add a name to my rather long-wided comment (the one with Brimham Rocks). I'm TDU.
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