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Why is Country-Specific Words Important to Bloggers?

I recently wrote a post about British versus American slang and terminology as a reference to help people understand the differences. A friend asked me why was this important to bloggers.

Good question. It is critical that you write as you and for you, but also for your audience, whoever and wherever they are.

If you are living and working in the UK and you are born and raised there, then you are probably writing like you talk and blogging about your life there, right? Then you are probably writing for your friends and neighbors and “folks from home”, though your words may apply to others. Still, it is part of your personal and unique voice to sound “English”. If you are from India, you may be writing in English, but you will be probably writing in your own country’s version of English using a mix of words an American probably might not understand every time. And if you are a true Southerner in the United States, I’m sure a few “ain’ts” and “y’alls” will pop into your writing. This is part of your writing voice and style.

Writing in the style and terminology of your region is important if your blog is personal. And it’s important for all of us to understand what is meant when someone in the government is called a “wanker” so we all know he’s a jerk. So learning the different terms for similar words helps us all understand what is being talked about.

It’s important to consider your audience. If you are writing for your region, write in a style they will recognize, especially if your blog is dedicated to a specific region, area, or culture. The more reflective the writing is of the local speech and dialect, the more “honest” your blog will feel when read. Even if this isn’t your “native” language, writing for the audience and subject matter of the blog keeps the material locked into a specific culture or community, adding to the style of the blog.

If you are writing about non-personal subjects, though the subject might be important personally to you, like technology or science, then you need to write with a “cleaner” voice free of eclectic and regional references so your writing appeals to the broadest audience. Take care to edit out “ain’t” and “y’all” and “wankers” from your writing to keep the language grammatically correct and…okay, I hate saying “dry” so let’s say “clean”. Free of colloquialisms and slang.

The words you choose in writing on your blog come from a combination of who you are and who your audience is, as well as your subject matter. The less formal the topic, the more slang is acceptable. The more formal the topic, the more stringent the language requirements.

Understanding the role the words you choose plays in what you write is critical to your success as a blogger. Think about the way you write, the phrases you use, especially common and frequently repeated phrases, and how they reflect who you are and what you are saying through your writing. Is it a good reflection? Is it really representative of what you want to say?

And then learn about the different words used in different cultures, even if they speak a form of English. It broadens your own language and opens up more word possibilities.


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Copyright Lorelle VanFossen

3 Comments

  1. Posted April 8, 2007 at 9:26 pm | Permalink

    I write my blog in British English but it would be good if, for example, a search for “favorite” (American spelling) would return any posts in which I’d used the word “favourite” (British spelling).

    Do you know of any plugins which can help with this, probably by converting all American-spelling words into British English before the actual search is performed?

  2. Posted April 9, 2007 at 11:14 am | Permalink

    I don’t know of any plugins that will enhance the language differences, but a word like “favourite” isn’t as important for searching as nouns. Most of the nouns tend to be spelled the same.

    And I believe that since I wrote this, Google has changed their search parameters to cover the broad spectrum of language difference. The point of this article is not being found by search engines but relating your origin and personality with your audience. I hope it helped in that regard.

  3. Posted April 10, 2007 at 8:18 am | Permalink

    Yeah, favourite was a bad example… I couldn’t think of a noun as an example, but maybe that just goes to prove your point :-)

    I found your post especially interesting because despite being British, I almost don’t notice whether something is written in American or British English now because I’m so used to reading both on the web – it’s only when a word is spelt very differently that I notice. Thought it was interesting to set people thinking about that.

    As for Google, yeah it seems to automatically check all the different versions of English. I know that in the past I’ve searched for key words with British spellings and the same key words appear in the top few hits, but spelt the American way.


2 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. [...] I covered similar international language and writing issues in “British Versus American”, “Global Awareness May Change The Way You Communicate on the Web”, “Why Are Country-Specific Words Important to Bloggers?”, “Cultural Colloquiums and Blog Writing”, which struck a nerve with many: Have you ever tried to explain American baseball to a Russian? Or anyone who has no familiarity with baseball? I did and it was a nightmare. Americans, even those who don’t understand the game at all, use baseball terminology as part of our daily dialog. [...]

  2. [...] This is important for bloggers as results returned from searches, both external and internal, are affected by this. It’s an issue with different spellings (e.g. American: “favorite”, British: “favourite”), different preferences (e.g. “oriented” is acceptable in British English, but “orientated” is much more commonly used) and the use of accents on words (e.g. “Guantánamo” as opposed to “Guantanamo”). From Lorelle on WordPress, here. [...]

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