Pros and cons of adding a en-GB-oxford language tag

Mark Crispin mrc at CAC.Washington.EDU
Fri May 30 09:59:47 CEST 2003

On Fri, 30 May 2003, John Cowan wrote:
> "Different to" grates on American sensibilities as much as
> American spellings do on Brits -- it looks not so much foreign as
> plain wrong.

As someone who does technical support in academia, I encounter all sorts
of attacks upon the English language which are far worse.  It is truly
amazing how inventive native speakers of other languages are in the
torment of English grammar!

Nevertheless, I find all of these to be tolerable; these are honest
mistakes by non-native speakers.

What I find intolerable is the en-US-poser variant, where a native
American English speaker tries to use British English and fails miserably.

The issue is consistency.  It's equally jarring for me to hear a native
speaker of British English try to use American English (and make the
inevitable mistakes).

I believe that the same applies to writing.  When writing to British or
Canadian entities, I use American grammar and spelling throughout.  This
includes *changing* British (or Canadian) spellings to the American

This isn't an attempt at evil American imperialism.  Rather, it's to avoid
creating something that contains misspellings (and possible grammar
errors) in all variants of English.  I lack the skill to produce a proper
British or Canadian English document, and I won't try.

I suspect that attempts to shift a program's text messages depending upon
the variant will often underestimate the problem.  Converting an American
English program to British English (or vice versa) is *MUCH* more than
simply changing spellings.  All of that programs texts need to be
rewritten and reviewed by a native speaker, just as if it was a foreign
language translation.  Anything short of that will jar the reader.

-- Mark --
Science does not emerge from voting, party politics, or public debate.

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