Monday, August 13, 2007

British English

I'm in the throes of proofreading my Screen essay on the prestige film. Don't get me wrong: it's a gratifying thing to see one's writing in a semblance of its eventual layout. But it has raised a troubled question for me: how do I navigate the vastly different stylistic and punctuation rules of British English? It's not merely an issue of cosmetics or comfort: sentences just don't read the way I think they should. Comma splices and run-ons seem to pop of the page with frightening regularity now. I don't want to resist editorial changes or to be a high-maintenance author; at the same time I want the writing to make sense, and to say basically what I'd intended to stay from the start. It's surprisingly tricky.

2 comments:

als said...

Interesting. For whom do you want the writing to make sense?

Chris Cagle said...

Well, if it's not possible for it to make sense to British and American readerships alike (setting aside the other Anglophone countries), then it should at least convey to a British reader the sense I meant. For instance, putting a comma between the words "advertising executive" surely changes the flow of the sentence and the meaning of what an advertising executive is.