UK: Watch your language but don ’t be old-school

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at
Tue Sep 4 15:18:40 UTC 2007

Watch your language but don't be old-school

As newspapers increasingly open up to an international audience and a
'globalized' culture, they must respect their traditional style guides
while embracing contemporary talk. The Guardian's readers' editor
explains how the paper's policy has evolved towards Americanisms.
"One thing guaranteed to get people running around on their hobby
horses is the use of American English," wrote Siobhain Butterworth,
the readers' editor.

Improper use of language arguably hinders good text journalism. On the
other hand, Butterworth pinpoints the issue: "does it really matter if
we use this kind of "Americanism" when the meaning is plain to
readers, most of whom are familiar with television shows, films,
websites and literature that originate in the US?"

Good use of language privileges good journalism, but effective
communication of ideas is even more important for journalism than is
unconditional allegiance to a style guide. Should The Guardian, or any
paper, stick to a more 'antiquated' form of speech if it is less
meaningful to the reader? "The paper can be forgiven for giving up on
some British English words," wrote Butterworth. This doesn't mean that
a paper can renounce to its heritage and  traditional emphasis on
proper language, simply because audiences and vernacular speech are

"We are a British newspaper, US readers recognise this and seem
comfortable with what we do," said the editor of the Guardian's style
guide ('recognise and not 'recognize', quoted from the Guardian). The
end word in a new world is that newspapers should uphold literate
language, but also open doors to embrace its evolution. "Some American
English words have begun to sneak into the vernacular, but still don't
look right in the paper," wrote Butterworth.

Source: The Guardian

N.b.: Listing on the lgpolicy-list is merely intended as a service to
its members
and implies neither approval, confirmation nor agreement by the owner
or sponsor of
the list as to the veracity of a message's contents. Members who
disagree with a
message are encouraged to post a rebuttal. (H. Schiffman, Moderator)

More information about the Lgpolicy-list mailing list