ON BEING TRANSATLANTIC
I was overjoyed to get the chance to create a US version of Bone Song. The city of Tristopolis is such a Gothamesque setting that it deserves a proper US-English text.
When I tell Brits that I write my short fiction in American English when it's for a US market... they're horrified. Hmm. And the thing is, most people underestimate the differences. Change 'colour' to 'color' or vice versa, and they assume that's it. So how about examining the following story fragment.
First, in British English...
Jack ground out his fag beneath his heel, and looked around the darkened car park.
‘Good enough,’ he muttered.
Opening the boot of his car, he pulled out a jumper. Despite the chill autumn night, he was wearing just a vest, no shirt. He pulled the jumper on.
There was a sound behind him, and he span.
A motorbike, looking as if it had travelled far, had just pulled up. Beyond, on the street, a few pedestrians were walking on the pavement, but the tarmac was empty.
As the biker dismounted, Jack began to rethink his policy of ‘one hit, one kill’. This bloke was a big bugger. Some day, Jack might get to fight someone his own size. But not today.
And now, in US English...
Jack ground out the cigarette beneath his heel, and looked around the darkened parking lot.
“Good enough,” he muttered.
Opening the trunk of his car, he pulled out a sweater. Despite the chill fall night, he was wearing just a tank top, no shirt. He pulled the sweater on.
There was a sound behind him, and he spun.
A motorcycle, looking as if it had traveled far, had just pulled up. Beyond, on the street, a few pedestrians were walking on the sidewalk, but the pavement was empty.
As the biker dismounted, Jack began to rethink his policy of “one hit, one kill.” This guy was a big bastard. Someday, Jack might get to fight someone his own size. But not today.
You'll notice that period (full stop) immediately follows the word "kill" in the US version (following the same rule as for dialogue) but follows the closing quotation mark in the British version. And there's "someday" vs. "some day" and lots of other stuff.
In Britain, as in other European countries (!), a three-storey building consists of the ground floor, the first floor and the second floor. In the US, a three-story (note spelling!) building has a first, second and third floor. And so on.