I am fascinated with the English language! It’s a passion I learned, late in life, not everyone shares. People enjoy different things for sure! Me? I thrive on researching grammar, spelling and language issues in general.
For the record, I do not confess to be an expert on the topic! I am merely an English language buff who has spent a substantial amount of personal time clarifying, in my own mind at least, the correct use of English in writing.
My vocation requires that I edit and write, and being a proud South African, I am continuously irritated at the inconsistencies in magazine and newspaper editorial, amongst others, in relation to the use of American and British English standards. Often – and to my utter dismay – any particular editorial can contain both language styles: the American English standard and the British or UK English standard – all in one writing sample!
- “It’s a beautiful and sunny day”, Lisa said. She emphasised, “I wonder when it will rain?”.
- ‘It’s a beautiful and sunny day,” Lisa said. She emphasized, ‘I wonder when it will rain?’
You see, my peers and I were educated to use the “s” and not the “z” – although both are correct in British English, while American English prefers using the “z” only. Yet the “z” creeps persistently into our writing! So which version is correct?
In my humble opinion, South Africans should stick with the following simple language guidelines:
- Using British/UK English spelling e.g. programme, cheque, kilogramme, metre, dialogue, neighbour, honour, archaeology etc.
- Using the “s” and not the “z” in spelling e.g. organise, analyse, capitalise, emphasise, standardise, urbanise etc.
- Using double quotation marks for direct speech and single quotation marks for a quote within a quote.
- Placing the comma or period outside the quotation marks unless the comma or period forms part of the quoted material, in which case the punctuation mark is placed inside the quotation marks.
- In body text which already contains direct speech using double quotation marks, single quotation marks should be used to highlight or emphasise specific words or to enclose slang and jargon.
- Use of hyphens to separate identical letters as in co-operate and re-introduce.
- Hyphenating compound modifiers, if used in adjectives before the noun e.g. full-time job, well-known expert, large-scale project. However, if used after the noun, a hyphen is not used e.g. the job is full time, the expert is well known, the project was large scale. Also, modifiers ending in “ly” do not require hyphenation (thanks to www.copyblogger.com for this easy to remember tip)
- Hyphenating compound numbers and fractions.
So there you have it! Use it or don’t use it – I’ve put it out there!
- Speaking Globish (ofwordsandworlds.wordpress.com)
- Is English an International Language? – Part 2 (techcommgeekmom.com)
- Use of English Language (everblazingwale1site.wordpress.com)
- Death to All Commas! (whatifyoucouldnotfail.typepad.com)
- Learn English: Seven Things You Need to Know About British and American English (tutoringtoexcellence.blogspot.com)
Tagged: American and British English differences, American English, British English, Copywriting, Editorial, English language, English standards, Grammar, Language, Punctuation, South Africa, South African English, United States, Writing