March 18th, 2014


help identifying Americanisms, American-style grammar

Since I've started writing Sherlock fanfic, I've been more conscious of, well, not sounding like an American. More precisely, not having modern-day Brits sound like they're from America. And I have some people who can work with me on this, but I'd also like to work up the kind of language that pulls people used to British language out of a story.

I've found a pretty comprehensive list of American terms that aren't common in the UK, things like cell phone vs. mobile, tylenol vs. paracetamol, that kind of thing. What's harder are the phrases and word choices that aren't obviously American but just don't sound right. There's a syntax, a way of saying things that I think can scream American to people not from around here. And it's harder for me as an American to spot.

So I was wondering: those of you from the UK or other places that learn UK-style English, are there certain language issues that make a character not seem British? Or if you're an American who's made use of a Brit-picker, have you been told to avoid certain things? (I know some of you who write hobbits probably have more familiarity with British English than I do, even if you're not British yourself; don't be shy.)

I'd like to come up with a list of things to avoid in y own writing, for when I can't work with a native British beta. So if there's something that seems more American than British and you can take the time to type up a list, I'd very much appreciate it. (If there's interest, I'll also make the list available once I'm done with it.)