Of US English and Television
I love English and I am not just saying that because I am a writer :). Of the three languages that I currently speak fluently, mother tongue and Swahili included, English is the one that comes most naturally to me; although this often depends on whom I am speaking with.
I also love movies and getting lost in somebody else’s story for a while. It is one of my favourite ways to get refreshed after being engrossed in work. Lately though, I have been getting mad at the movies that I watch because as every lover of movies will tell you, all good movies are from the US of A, save for a few that I can count on my fingers! You may be wondering why I am this worked up about this but as I have said, I love English. Specifically, the English that we were taught in school. UK English, where the word ‘meter’ is spelt as ‘metre’ and not ‘meter’ as I often find myself spelling it now. Where it was inaccurate to say, “I closed all the windows so mosquitoes wouldn’t come in.” because there had to be a “so…that” relationship in a sentence.
Now, I feel as though I am selling out as I write ‘theater’ when I really want to write ‘theatre’ (I am not even sure which is which anymore). The most irritating class of words for me is those of the –or (US) and –our (UK) variety. MS Word does not help either because it always automatically changes my ‘colour’ to ‘color’ when what I really mean is ‘colour’! Same goes for ‘favourite’, ‘behaviour’ and ‘honour’. And yes, I really do mean ‘analogue’ and ‘monologue’, not ‘analog’ or ‘monolog’. #just saying
For a while, I had not even noticed that the basic English Language skills I had learnt were being subtly eroded by my US English until I did a test on www.odesk.com. The test focuses on how well writers have mastered either UK or US English (or both). I did the one for US English and passed so well that I got a recommendation and now it is displayed on my profile that I passed in the 96th Percentile. It is a good thing, right? You would think so, but how I will fare on my UK English test is yet to be seen. I am somewhat apprehensive about taking the test because I feel like if I do not do as well as I did on the US English test, I will have let down Mr. Karanja who taught me English in Primary School as well as Miss Masya and Mr. Dre (I do not remember his real name), who taught me English in High School!
So what is a writer to do when they are not sure whether they are spelling words and constructing sentences correctly for both the US and UK clients? It can get confusing but I am grateful that for now at least, both US and UK English seem to co-exist peacefully in this writer’s overly-analytical mind.
When in doubt though, do what I do, use Google 🙂