Quick Tip:
Using the "English" Language

You probably think that English is English – whether you're writing copy aimed at people in England, Canada, America, or any other "English-speaking" country. Right? Wrong!

Since I moved from England to Canada a year ago, trousers have become pants, pants have become shorts, bonnets have become hoods, hats have become toques, boots have become trunks, and a jumper is now a dress. Even some of the stuff that's stayed the same is now spelled differently – or not – depending on which side of the Canadian/American border I'm dealing with.

It all gets very confusing.

So, what do we do to make sure we're being understood by our target audience? Two things:

  1. Set your computer to the form of English spoken by the audience you're writing to. Go to "Tools," "Language," and then "Set Language."
  2. Ask a "native" speaker – of Canadian English, Australian English, etc. – to read your copy. If you don't know such a person, try the AWAI message boards in the Student Forum.
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Published: October 20, 2003

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