No one understands me. No, really, they actually don’t.
American English and English, I am discovering, are two different languages. Here are some journalist-focused examples.
Press night = Close
Subs = Copy
Print/Photocopy = proof
Adds = questions??
And the grammar thing is even trickier, particularly considering I’m meant to be an editor and have a refined grasp of the language.
They put commas in front of but and and.
They use a thing called an em dash, which fulfils the function of a dash but is about five million times as long as the stunted (technical term) dash.
They put names of books, films, dishes in quotation marks.
They don’t use articles in front of place names. eg ‘She is playing Rockefeller Center’ as opposed to ‘the Rockefeller Center’.
They don’t use the word practise for the verb. It’s practice for both noun and verb.
They put full stops outside a quotation or brackets rather than inside. In fact I still haven’t quite mastered what the rule is here, but I do know it’s not the same as ours. I’ve started collating an American/Anglo dictionary to try to get myself up to speed, quickly.
Unwittingly, and I presume to try to blend in in the face of my loose hold in the nuances of American English, I have noticed myself speaking in a faux American accent. Not in the office, that would be weird – they all know I’m British. But in cabs, in supermarkets and in bars. Yup, I know, still weird. And I don’t think it works. The other night I nearly got fleeced by a rogue taxi driver who, having switched off his meter unbeknownst to me, tried to charge me $15 for a 3 minute cab ride. Having realised my fake American drawl wasn’t working, when I raised my voice, I raised it in English. It seemed to work. He charged me $5 instead. Shouting, it seems, is the global language.