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Dark Sim
04-21-2006, 05:00 PM
I'm not sure if this has been asked before. If you're submitting a manuscript to an American agent, would you be required to change any speech marks (" ") to a couple of these (' ') instead? If so, why is that? Is the convention different in the US to the UK? Does " " mean something different to ' ' ?

Similarly, what happens if a word is currently placed between a couple of ' ' as in the following example?: the alien showed his 'human' side (nevermind that that sentence is telling rather than showing here - don't concentrate on that - it's just the word 'human' within those inverted commas that I'm focussing on. Would the word 'human', when the manuscript is reformatted for an American agent, have to be changed to "human" instead?

So if the original sentence read like this: "the alien is showing his 'human' side," John said, would the American version have to be: 'the alien is showing his "human" side,' John said?

If I had to change it at all costs, can this be done using the 'replace' function on Word? The problem is that I tried this, and it only replaced the closing speech marks at the end of the word, not the opening speech marks at the beginning of the word. Is there some way to get Word to replace both sets?

I don't really want to have to go through the entire manuscript manually changing English speech marks to American ones. The problem is that it is really confusing for me as an English writer. If I began changing everything around manually (since my manuscript was written in UK English as opposed to American English) I could completely lose track of what's supposed to be in " " and what's in ' ' when going through it.

Would it be at all acceptable simply to submit the manuscript as it is with the English speech marks? Surely the agents could make sense of it still?

Julie Worth
04-21-2006, 05:12 PM
You don't need to change anything. You've written it to the American standard.

maestrowork
04-21-2006, 05:35 PM
"The alien is showing his 'human' side," he said.

That's already the American version.

reph
04-21-2006, 09:18 PM
Americans don't say "different to," though. We say "different from" (followed by a substantive) or "different than" (fol. by a clause or implied clause).

Carmy
04-24-2006, 07:46 AM
Dark Sim,

You may find that you have more to worry about than the quotation mark standards. Much of what I write is set in the UK but I've learned to use US spelling and certain colloquialisms for the US market otherwise editors become confused or demand changes. (Kerb and curb is only one example.) However, none of it would stop a US publisher from accepting your work if it's good enough and they think they will make money from the publication.

Are you able to get hold of a US version of Word? If you can, run your manuscript through the US grammar and spell checker. You'll be amazed at how much it will pick up.

Sorry if that's bad news.

Carmy

aruna
04-27-2006, 02:16 PM
I have a related question. I'm going to submit to both American and british agents, with my best hopes and chances with the US. Should I prepare two versions, with two different spellings, such as 'colour', 'centre', etc?

Also, my MC, the narrator who is not American, would naturally use the word 'torch', not 'flashlight', but I've often experienced that the word 'torch' confuses Americans. Should I keep it as 'torch' in the narrative (eg I put my torch under the pillow) for the US version, or change it to 'flashlight'?

Aconite
04-27-2006, 05:10 PM
I have a related question. I'm going to submit to both American and british agents, with my best hopes and chances with the US. Should I prepare two versions, with two different spellings, such as 'colour', 'centre', etc?

Also, my MC, the narrator who is not American, would naturally use the word 'torch', not 'flashlight', but I've often experienced that the word 'torch' confuses Americans. Should I keep it as 'torch' in the narrative (eg I put my torch under the pillow) for the US version, or change it to 'flashlight'?
What is the nationality of your character? I'd stick with the spellings and idioms your character would use.

aruna
04-27-2006, 06:01 PM
What is the nationality of your character? I'd stick with the spellings and idioms your character would use.

She is Guyanese, like me. We use English spellings, grammar and vocabulary.

CaroGirl
04-27-2006, 06:11 PM
I'd go ahead and use torch if that's the word your narrator would choose. Using English terms and expressions didn't hurt the success of Harry Potter and J.K. Rowling.

reph
04-27-2006, 09:35 PM
What is the nationality of your character? I'd stick with the spellings and idioms your character would use.Uh, wait a minute. A character's preferred spellings don't show in dialogue. They show only if you reproduce something the character wrote.

aruna
04-27-2006, 09:53 PM
Uh, wait a minute. A character's preferred spellings don't show in dialogue. They show only if you reproduce something the character wrote.

Well, yes. She is the narrator, 1st person POV And in the reality of the book. she is actually writing it. So she would use torch. The question of 'flashlight' only arises for the sake of American readers.
Ugh. I just remembered. In Guyana, we actually call the damn thing a 'torchlight'.

Sandi LeFaucheur
04-28-2006, 02:25 AM
It's difficult writing for transatlantic audiences. The Secret Shelter was written in English (as opposed to American), but was bought by an American house. I had to make a number of compromises, but I insisted that the characters would not sound like they're from New Jersey! (not that there's anything wrong with New Jersey....) For instance, they couldn't wear jumpers, they had to wear sweaters. Torch got to stay, thank heaven. An older person referred to a girl as "girlie" which had to go, because evidently "girlie" means "gangster's girlfriend" in America. Who knew? So the characters don't sound completely true to South London (which scored me a bad review from a UK reviewer); they sound sort of like someone from Antlantis might sound, if it existed! One thing that did amuse me was that "bleeding" had to go, (as in "stop that bleeding racket") because it was "too graphic; too much like real blood). Hmmm. (BTW, the novel is for Young Adults)

I did run the MS through a US spell-check before sending it off, which nearly broke my heart. It's insane how attached I am to the letter "u" in "colour". But I felt if it increased my chances of a sale, I could stand it.

Jamesaritchie
04-28-2006, 06:55 AM
It's difficult writing for transatlantic audiences. The Secret Shelter was written in English (as opposed to American), but was bought by an American house. I had to make a number of compromises, but I insisted that the characters would not sound like they're from New Jersey! (not that there's anything wrong with New Jersey....) For instance, they couldn't wear jumpers, they had to wear sweaters. Torch got to stay, thank heaven. An older person referred to a girl as "girlie" which had to go, because evidently "girlie" means "gangster's girlfriend" in America. Who knew? So the characters don't sound completely true to South London (which scored me a bad review from a UK reviewer); they sound sort of like someone from Antlantis might sound, if it existed! One thing that did amuse me was that "bleeding" had to go, (as in "stop that bleeding racket") because it was "too graphic; too much like real blood). Hmmm. (BTW, the novel is for Young Adults)

I did run the MS through a US spell-check before sending it off, which nearly broke my heart. It's insane how attached I am to the letter "u" in "colour". But I felt if it increased my chances of a sale, I could stand it.

"Girlie" doesn't mean a gangster's girlfriend in America. Girlie either means "like a girl," or it's used as in "girlie magazines," or it means a young, unladylike girl, or it's just another way of saying "girl," as in, "she laughed with girlie pleasure." It's also a term on endearment, and a term many old people here use to refer to young women or girls.

I've never, ever heard "girlie" used to mean a gangster's girlfriend.

reph
04-28-2006, 07:23 AM
I've never, ever heard "girlie" used to mean a gangster's girlfriend.Nor have I. Maybe it's used that way in New Jersey? The best-known U.S. slang word for a gangster's girlfriend is "moll," an old-fashioned word.

Sandi LeFaucheur
04-28-2006, 02:14 PM
I'm doubting myself now! I'm absolutely postive it was "girlie", and at the time I looked it up in a US dictionary and actually found it. But having just done a search on on-line dictionaries, the only definition is as in girlie magazines. Sadly, my original English version of the story was lost in a computer crash.

But getting back to the original point of this thread--punctuation differences--another one is the placement (or not) of periods after Mr. and Mrs. A UK editor told me NOT to put a period after Mr or Mrs, so I took them all out. Then when I started subbing it on this side of the Atlantic, I had to put them all back in! I did a "replace" on Mr, and ended up with Mr.s for Mrs, which was, as you can imagine, somewhat annoying!

I wonder if other languages vary as much from place to place as English? I mean in the written form, not accounting for accents. My heart goes out to anyone trying to learn English as a second language; it seldom makes sense.

Jamesaritchie
04-28-2006, 06:08 PM
I'm doubting myself now! I'm absolutely postive it was "girlie", and at the time I looked it up in a US dictionary and actually found it. But having just done a search on on-line dictionaries, the only definition is as in girlie magazines. Sadly, my original English version of the story was lost in a computer crash.

But getting back to the original point of this thread--punctuation differences--another one is the placement (or not) of periods after Mr. and Mrs. A UK editor told me NOT to put a period after Mr or Mrs, so I took them all out. Then when I started subbing it on this side of the Atlantic, I had to put them all back in! I did a "replace" on Mr, and ended up with Mr.s for Mrs, which was, as you can imagine, somewhat annoying!

I wonder if other languages vary as much from place to place as English? I mean in the written form, not accounting for accents. My heart goes out to anyone trying to learn English as a second language; it seldom makes sense.

It may have been "girlie." Editors don't always get it right, either. I've been an editor, and like anyone else, sometimes I have a brain fart and get some bit of knowledge about a word in my head that's dead wrong, but I'm so dead certain it's correct I don't bother to check.

As for English making sense, the glory and the trouble with English, at least with American English, is that it really isn't one language, it's several. We constantly take in words from other languages, create our own spelling and rule usage for these words, etc. This gives us a rich, lush, large, and vibrant language, but it makes learning it as a second langauge very difficult.

I'm not sure how much English in other countries changes, grows, and creates its own rules, but my guess is a good bit. It sometimes surprises me than English speaking countries can still converse.

As for "Mr." and "Mrs.," most often, any abbreviation gets a period. "Miss" isn't an abbreviation, so there's no period. "Ms." isn't an abbreviation, either, but it does get a period. The APA suggests no periods after degrees, even though they are abbreviations, but most other style and grammar guides say we should use a period. We don't even always agree with each other.

Ralyks
05-03-2006, 04:45 PM
I did run the MS through a US spell-check before sending it off, which nearly broke my heart. It's insane how attached I am to the letter "u" in "colour". But I felt if it increased my chances of a sale, I could stand it.

I'm American, but I often put the "u" in words like humour and colour and such. I don't know why--perhaps because I read so much English literature growing up. It's natural for me. I think both spellings are accepted in America, even if only one is normal "American usage."

I would think, when it comes to spelling, that an editor would simply correct English usage to American usage for American markets after the book has been accepted (or just leave it, if s/he doesn't assume Americans are too dumb to figure out the minor differences). I wouldn't think you'd have to prepare two different versions.

BardSkye
05-06-2006, 09:13 PM
There are a good many UK writers who have a large following on both sides of the pond (Dick Francis comes immediately to mind, as does JK Rowling) and I've never come across anyone in a bookstore refusing to read those books because they use British rather than American spelling.

I write as part of a trio that started in my own forum. Two of us are Canadian from British roots and one lives in the UK; we use the British forms. Occasionally our UK member will use a term we're not familiar with but that can make it even more fun to read.

veinglory
05-06-2006, 09:26 PM
Well, both of those authors are released in the US with US spelling and word changes elevator/lift, pavement/sidewalk etc...

Sandi LeFaucheur
05-07-2006, 12:36 AM
Well, both of those authors are released in the US with US spelling and word changes elevator/lift, pavement/sidewalk etc...

That is a shame. I've never read Harry Potter (shock, horror) but I'm sure the book is supposed to take place in England. And why would an English person say elevator and sidewalk? If a book takes place in England, then let the person speak English. We would never expect a Chicago gangster to speak in Cockney rhyming slang.

Mind, if you mean those words are used in the narrative, I suppose it's different. But I find it a shame that English people can understand American books, but Americans have English books translated for them. (It's like some English documentaries are overdubbed by Americans when shown in the US. Strange, that. There's a wealth of regional accents across the States, but they have to overdub an English accent, as if the general populace can't cope with it. But I digress.)

BardSkye
05-07-2006, 01:56 AM
I had to look through my library before replying as I was sure the Dick Francis books I had contained British phrases and spellings, but not sure enough to say anything without checking. Turns out all but one were printed in the UK. The single book not printed across the pond was printed in Canada, not the US, and has British spellings and phrases.

I've learned something today! :hooray: