Friday, July 19, 2013

Me, JA Rock, and the Culture Wars

Australian English is my default setting. 

It's kind of like UK English, but a bit more laid back. A bit rougher around the edges. A bit "she'll be right." 

My publishers so far have been in the US, and that's where I run into problems. And it's not always the obvious stuff that trips me up. The theaters and the colors and the centers. I've even been able to use the word "mom" without laughing recently, and believe me, that's progress. 

It's the trickier things. Did you know that in America, people don't go forwards or backwards or towards? No, they go forward, and backward and toward. Crazy stuff. 

Oh, American English, why are you so different? We both come from the same parent, right? We both come from UK English, except Australian English is like the kid who turned out okay, and American English is like the one who smokes cigarettes, drops out of school, and rides a motorbike. Which is not as cool as it thinks, given that it should have grown up by now. 

I am getting better at using American English. "Realize" will always be my bugbear though. Or, if you like, my drop bear

But I'm pleased to announce that JA Rock and I have finally managed to stop sniping at each other over our different types of English, and moved on to the bigger cultural misunderstandings. 

Here are some comments from our current WIP. All sparked by the moment where our Aussie character is having difficulty coming to terms with his move to America. Which gave JA and I the chance to recycle all of our old arguments about flat white coffees (they are a thing), driving on the wrong side of the road, and whether it's "math" or "maths". It's "maths", BTW. The line from the WIP is: Seriously, how this country had won a world war was beyond Mark.

And here are the comments:

LH: It was because you turned up late both times and everyone else was already tired!

JA: We thought everyone else was just joking when they said they needed help. Like when you see your friend out in the ocean flailing and shouting, and you're just like, "Oh, Dave. What a card." And then you realize that he's caught in the undertow.

LH: And then it happened again and America was all like, "Jesus, Dave, stay out of the fucking water, all right?"

JA: "Seriously! Dave, we won't always be around to bail you out."

LH: "Dave? Where's Dave? Has anyone seen Dave? Oh...oh my god, he's in the ocean again!"

JA: "No, stay back, Don't go in after him. He's never gonna learn for himself if we keep rescuing his ass every time it starts drowning."

So there you have it, guys. A brief history of the major military conflicts of the twentieth century, as interpreted by us.

And possibly a very scary insight into how both our minds work.


  1. We were doing so well being nice to each other on the language issue, but then you had to go and call ketchup and tomato sauce the same thing. Still, we're making progress, right?

    And I think calling Aussie English the kid who turned out okay is a bit of a stretch. I mean, that T-shirt you said I could get when I finally used "arse" correctly was unintelligible. Are you sure American English didn't grow up cool, handsome, and nonchalant, like James Dean, while Australian English became a drunken hobo muttering things nobody understands and stationing a shivering puppy beside its change cup to prey on peoples' compassion for dogs?

    1. Oh please. Aussie English doesn't beg. It charms.

      And look what happened to James Dean. I'm just saying.


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