communication for the real world

Going that extra mile with the two major Englishes

Spring bluebells in beech woodland, Dockey Woods, Buckinghamshire, England

It takes about 15 minutes to walk a mile. I’ve walked countless city streets, country lanes, and unmarked fields to go a mile. It’s 15 minutes, give or take. It’s not that far.

In the world of specialised writers—technical, scientific, corporate—few seem to be interested in improving their ability with the two major branches of English:

  • British or UK English
  • American or US English

For example, if work requires them to write in US English and their mother tongue is British English, many writers simply remove the u from colour and carry on. End of.

If the tables are turned, their mother tongue is US English and they write professionally in British English, they slip the u into colour and feel they have done their part. Nothing further.

Bluebell season is almost upon us here in Europe, and I love to walk in the bluebell woods. It does not have to be a long walk—say it’s 15 minutes—I feel refreshed and somehow enlightened by the experience.

You see where I’m going with this, don’t you?

Like a pleasant walk through bluebells, you can improve your ability with the two major Englishes in about 15 minutes a day.

There are lots of sources to choose from. These are just some of the ones I read.

Over time—not that much time, either—you can make a big difference in your ability with the two major branches of English.

That extra mile is only 15 minutes, but it takes you to another level.

What do you do to improve your skill with the two major Englishes?

1 comment

1 Joe { 03.09.11 at 9:28 AM }

I’m with you on reading UK papers – The Guardian is good, so is the Telegraph. Stay away from the UK tabloids if you want to retain your sanity, though.

Listening to Auntie Beeb also helps, though not as much as it used to. (I’m not looking forward to the shuttering of the shortwave World Service in Europe, let me tell you.)

Also: Read anything by Stephen Fry (Paperweight, his collection of newspaper essays from the 80s is particularly good) and just about any writer he recommends (Wilde and Wodehouse especially).

Having a British partner/flatmate also helps.

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