SETUP: As if I didn't get enough rejection by "placing" as a quarterfinalist in WOTF (with the good company of hundreds of others), I decided to try to send it out again.
Out of laziness, I noticed that Interzone is taking email submissions this month, so I sent it there yesterday. I didn't mention anything about being a quarterfinalist in the email cover as an unpublished 'credit', I figure, it's better NOT mentioned.
QUESTION: Today it hit me. Interzone is a British SF&F magazine. My story is set in North America, with Americanized spellings, punctuations, not to mention use of double quotes for dialog, instead of single quotes. Who knows what other sensibilities I'm stepping on?
Is that a big deal? Should I have revised it for a British market?
My guess is that the editors/readers will take this into account. They may or may not ask for it to be edited (they may even do it themselves).
Puzzled by your mention of double quotes for dialogue - I've always used them, and always been taught to use them, and I'm a Brit.
However, were you the one who mentioned in another thread about not wanting your US speelings etc. to be "adjusted" for British publication? I'm sure I read that somewhere recently, and it struck me as a really odd thing to be concerned about. Why would you be concerned that you'd written "favor" and the book had the word "favour" in it? I just couldn't get my head round that. Now, translation is a different matter - I've often wondered how authors feel about translations, particularly "literary" authors whose works might be full of references and allusions that a translator might miss - but the adjusting of American to English spelling? Just seems way too minor to get bothered over.
IF they accepted it (a very big IF), I'd have no problem with them adjusting it. Of course, I wouldn't have a clue where to begin adjusting it myself.
The reason I mentioned single quotes may be a misunderstanding. I also critted an entire novel with single quote dialog where the writer was British. So when I read Talon Of The Silver Hawk (I think it was that) and encountered single quotes in dialog, I took that to mean it was British.
Spellings corrected to British usage, in works written by Americans but published in the UK, irritate me. I've picked up a fair amount of British books over the years, often of things I can make a comparison with in American editions. I don't think I've run across any books where this has not been done.
It all seens wasted effort---some kind of sinister conspiracy on the part of British publishers to claim spelling superiority over the people of their former colony.
It hardly thrills me to have it work the other way, either, and more often than not, it isn't done. (I understand there's been a good deal of working over the "Harry Potter" books---pointlessly, in my view.)
Chances are, on eventual publication (after presumed acceptance), a story would come through with everything corrected according to British usage. Not that there's anything you can do about it...
quote:Spellings corrected to British usage, in works written by Americans but published in the UK, irritate me.
Why in the world would that bother you? Words that are spelled incorrectly are jarring, and tend to pull the reader out of the story...regardless of whether the spelling is correct in another country. Even if you KNOW intellectually the spelling is correct elsewhere, your brain still stutters on those words. The publisher is merely making the reading experience smoother for their audience. As an author, I would be grateful to have a publisher spend their own time and expense to eliminate any potential to disrupt the flow of the story for the reader.
Too many times we see conspiracy in a corporation's actions, when there is really only one issue at hand... it's business. It makes them more money. If they choose to make a change, it's because they feel it will influence sales in a positive manner.
No, it's a matter of American pride and patriotism, to know that an American writer will write a word one way, and the British will always "correct" it, and to also know that a British writer will write a word one way, and the Americans will usually not change it. Should a British copy checker have this kind of control over the intellectual property of Americans? Is it proper? Would they like it if it were done as regularly and inevitably to them?
I certainly don't have this trouble with British works and British authors.
Eh, it's just the way things are. The Americanism of accepting both spellings as correct is just part of what makes the real English language the robust, all encompassing tongue that nobody really speaks fluently.
I just read a Partially Clips in which the term "Sanbai-Otaku" was coined. When it was written (over three years ago) I wouldn't have had the least idea what that meant other than that it was supposed to be Japanese. Reading it in 2006 I understood it instantly. That's the power of having a non-formalized language. The cost is that people "translating" that into a formalized language will always lose much of the point.
quote: No, it's a matter of American pride and patriotism,
That's hilarious, or hysterical, can't figure out which.
This from a nation that still use IMPERIAL measurements. You would think it would be a matter of national pride to show the world they can get it together enough to make the switch. But they can't -- so it's moot.
TEACHERCHERNOBYL: Single quotes is standard in British text, double quotes indicate someone quoting someone else in dialogue for instance:
'I asked Tom and he said, "Get lost turkey." So I left him alone.'
But double quotes is considered okay.
CHRISOWENS: It will not be a problem.
I don't care if Americans change the spelling or not, what bugs me is when they dumb-down a reference and change its meaning. To use a simple example already cited, didn't the Americans change HP and the Philosopher's Stone to HP and the Sorcerers Stone? That changes the meaning and allusion and renders the references to Nicholas Flamel meaningless. Most 'british' readers just roll their eyes at stuff like that and think, 'too bad -- their loss."
[This message has been edited by hoptoad (edited January 11, 2006).]
Growing up in Canada I have always followed British spellings for words. I find it quite jarring now that I live in Japan and I see the words "color" "favor" "neighbor" etc. Interestingly, even when typing this message, I initially typed "color" with a "u".
Personally, if I wrote a story using my Canadian/British spellings and an American publisher took out the "u" when printing a story, it wouldn't bother me in the least. I'd just be happy to sell a story.
Changing titles though, is another matter. The US title of the first HP book is different from the British title (they changed "Philosophers Stone" to "Sorcers Stone").
Interesting that British publishers would make the switch and not American publishers when you consider the size of the book markets of either nation. American spellings use less ink, too.
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By the way, hoptoad, your point was the dumbing down. Rcoporon's point was the title change, and my point was that not only did they dumb down with the Sorcerer instead of Philosopher stone, but they also changed the spellings and replaced British words for things with the American words for those things.
Same example, different points.
But your point is taken. We should have worded things differently and acknowledged that you mentioned the book first.
I'm British, but whenever I'm on holiday in the US I tend to buy huge quantities of books to read on my travels. The ones that spring instantly to mind as having American spelled editions, from my recent reading, are Terry Pratchett's 'The Color of Magic' (look at the title)and Monica Ali's 'Brick Lane' (gotten, color, favor). The title of the first in Philip Pullman’s ‘His Dark Materials’ trilogy, as well as the spelling, was also changed for the American Market - although I have no idea why.
However, my copy of Ender’s Game, published in Britain, retains the American spellings. So basically, there doesn’t seem to be a problem with one country doing something that the other is not, or vice versa. Americans probably don't notice that British spellings have been changed because it's so natural to read what you're used to. Which is exactly how it should be.
Maybe the problem is fading. Most of the British books I have to hand are about ten years old or older...I'll have to see if I've got anything more recent, or can turn up something for comparison.
As for "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone"...I don't understand why Rowling put up with changes of that order, or even a pointless change of title. (I wonder if "lack of commercial clout" played into it---can anybody enlighten us as to changes or lack of changes of this kind in the last volume?)
As for metricism---the United States expended its effort by seeing that it had a hundred pennies to the dollar long before the British switched off pounds-shillings-pence. Also the US government has bent to the wishes of its people rather than force on them a measurement based on a perceentage of the meridian that runs between London and Paris.
Despite protestations to the contrary, virtually all Americans who actually know what a mile (or inch, foot, yard, whathaveyou) is also know what a kilometer is (and therefor all the other metric units).
We're just incurably multicultural, that's all. Some of us even know what a li is.
WARNING: a little bit of naughty banter ensues.
quote: As for metricism---the United States expended its effort by seeing that it had a hundred pennies to the dollar long before the British switched off pounds-shillings-pence.
Such a shame the united states didn't expend enough effort to finish the job, isn't it?
Metricism is a cool new word, may I use it? It happifies me. . . Lack of thoroughness and consistency aside, did you know that I like americans? I like to stand near them --they make me look skinny. That reminds me, the yard used to be the length of a man's belt, but in the 12th century, King Henry I of England fixed the yard as the distance from his nose to the thumb of his out-stretched arm — 36 inches. Use it as much as you like, pay homage to good king Henry with every foot race your kids run, with every dress your women make, and every football game your men play. . . . Survivor, is that true? Just because I know what a gallon is, does not mean I know what a gill is. Do americans use gills? Are most americans really incurably multicultural? I understand a society being multicultural, but how can a person be multicultural? Multiracial--yes, polyglot--yes, but a multicultural individual?
Surely it is more likely that someone from a multi-cultural home would develop a synthesised personal culture manifesting aspects of itself in varying intensities depending on circumstances, whether they were operating within the cultural context of one parent or the other and differently within the home, and diffferently again in other, unrelated cultural contexts. Even if this is true, surely it is not true of most americans?
REAL QUESTION: Why do they call it "U.S. Customary System"? Does that mean it is not the "Official" system?
[This message has been edited by hoptoad (edited January 12, 2006).]
"We" isn't a singular pronoun, it isn't usually applied to individuals. Of course, as I was the one using it, you could read it that way, and yes, we are most assuredly an incurably multicultural individual.
While it isn't necessarily true that a person who really knows how long a mile is will also know how long a kilometer is, it is true of all Americans who know, in practice, how long a mile is. That is, in fact, all those Americans who really know what a mile is also know what a kilometer is. Also, most Americans can keep the metric system (which they were taught in school) straight, so most of them do know their meters/liters/grams at least as well as they know their pounds/yards/gallons. So it is basically true either way you look at it.
As for multi-cultural homes...non-multi-cultural homes are a definite minority here in the U.S., it's one of the things that makes our society fundamentally different from others, to an extent that people from other nations do not understand and frankly cannot even imagine. I'll leave that alone, because to most Americans these days it seems totally natural that such should be the case, while most non-americans it simply doesn't make any sense to even say it. But that is the way it is. More importantly, "American" culture is fundamentally multi-cultural, and has been for a long time.
As for your final question, yes, that is correct. It is defined, in law, as not being the "official" or even "preferred" system. It is composed of units, recognized as "customary", which are in common use and are defined by law so as to prevent fraud.
Hoptoad, you can continue being naughty. It's why we like you.
quote:Do americans use gills?
Fish use gills. As an american, I wouldn't have a clue what else the term might mean.
quote: Are most americans really incurably multicultural? I understand a society being multicultural, but how can a person be multicultural? Multiracial--yes, polyglot--yes, but a multicultural individual?
One of the things that happens between different English-speaking nations is that different words have differing levels of intensity and nuance of meaning. I hadn't ever thought of this particular one before, but I thought I might make a stab at explaining the American thought process about the word "multi-cultural."
I spent about a year and a half working in the Violence Prevention Program for the health department of a government (county) agency. There are federal laws in America that require equal treatment regardless of race. In order to provide measurements of compliance, non-compliance, government and non-profit social service agencies are very attentive to gathering statistics about race.
The Health Department I worked for was, like all other government programs of its kind, highly attuned to the fact that different RACES come from different cultural backgrounds. All county personnel were given mandatory "Cultural Competency" training, so that we became aware of cultural differences.
In the Health Department we had many visiting home nurses and community workers who went into people's homes to provide social services. If you didn't have multi-cultural training, you might accidently do something highly rude without meaning to, and cut off any possibility of building trust and rapport with that client.
For instance, it is perfectly normal, as a white person, to refuse any offer of food or drink if you are on a business call and only going to be at the house for a short while. We white folk are taught from the time we are small children to not impose on our host/hostess. It is an act of respect and politeness to refuse food. But in a HISPANIC household, if you refuse an offer of food and drink, you are sending a different message. It is considered very offensive, like you are too "high and mighty" to lower yourself to partake, or like their food isn't good enough. That would be a bad message to send to a new client, wouldn't it? Without the training, you would have no way of knowing you had stepped into a minefield of cultural inappropriateness.
If you are having a heart to heart talk with a Native American, you should make sure the person has a glass of water to drink. Water is sacred, and it is an act of respect for the other person to provide the water for them. If you are meeting with a black person (especially someone older than you) and you don't know them well, you had better use their last name: Mr. Johnson, Mrs. Jackson. It's a sign of respect. If you show disrespect, even unknowingly, you may never gain their trust.
There are hundreds of little nuances in behavior dependant on culture. America is truly a melting-pot, and we have to work hard at it to understand each other's cultures. We are proud to be a multi-cultural country. Those of us who recognize, understand, and respect the various nuances of cultural tradition are proud to call ourselves multi-cultural.
[This message has been edited by Elan (edited January 13, 2006).]
See, a good example of an American who doesn't really understand the underlying multi-culturalism of her country, but in many ways exemplifies it
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I was merely trying to give some concrete examples of what I meant. The above information was collected from a series of meetings with the Executive Directors of several organizations dealing with domestic violence. The conversations in those meetings were centered specifically around the challenges of delivering "culturally competent" and "culturally specific" services (those phrases are government lingo, btw) to women of color. The comments about how you should treat women of a particular race/culture were made BY the women of that race/culture. I am just repeating the information.
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I'm not saying the information was incorrect, I'm pointing out that you're focusing on what you notice, and what you notice isn't the same as what is ubiquitous. At the same time, what you don't notice (or, more precisely, fail to emphasize) is far more telling.
In other words, you implicitly demonstrated American multi-culturalism, while explicitly failing to explain it.
quote:'Gotten'? What is 'gotten'? Is that an Americanism?
"Gotten" has exactly the same relationship to "got" as "forgotten" has to "forgot", the latter being a transformation still extant in British English. "Gotten" is the older form of the past participle. This is one case where the Americans have retained what the Brits have dropped, rather than the reverse.
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In a write-up on the Beatles, there were comments on how "penitentiary" wasn't a current term in Britain (or maybe just Liverpool), though it did seem to come up a lot in blues songs...
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The following is my opinion only and I am not precious about it so blast away.
I think Elan hit on something, maybe we are focussing on different aspects of the word.
You see culture means:
cul·ture P Pronunciation Key (klchr) n. The totality of socially transmitted behavior patterns, arts, beliefs, institutions, and all other products of human work and thought.
mul·ti·cul·tur·al P Pronunciation Key (mlt-klchr-l, -t-) adj. Of, relating to, or including several cultures.
It is true that a person's culture may have many influences, but a person can only have one personal culture. Because 'culture' refers to the total or combination of all the aspects at any given time. Clearly one's culture can change over time and throughout our life.
For me, the concept of a 'multi-cultural individual' seems illogical because a personal culture is a synthesis of ALL the influences and choices, not a collection of fragmentary traits uninformed by the others.
But the word 'multicultural' referring to a group is perfectly okay. It can incorporate a number of seperate (total) personal cultures. However a personal culture is only a representative of a broader social culture. A multicultural group, society or event will therefore always be generalised because addressing specifics will always provoke the question, 'WHO decided that THAT THING is part of MY culture?' So to be fair, a 'multi-cultural' thing, can only indicate the predominating attitudes and behavior that characterize a group.
Therefore it will always be prone to accusations of superficiality and stereotyping.
So 'multicultural' -- indicates something that is generalised and superficiaI.
quote:As for multi-cultural homes...non-multi-cultural homes are a definite minority here in the U.S., it's one of the things that makes our society fundamentally different from others, to an extent that people from other nations do not understand and frankly cannot even imagine.
It is a fundamentally unstable postion to accept the uniqueness of one's own personal culture, its influences and intricacies, but deny the same courtesy to people other than ourself by accepting generalised stereotypes of them. The above statement is such a great illustration of this position that I had to quote it, but I don't believe it is really your postion. I could be wrong.
So what defines a person's culture? My understanding is that it is a TOTAL of all behavioural patterns, beliefs and practices they have received from their forebears coupled with those that have incorporated throughout their life derived from their influences and their choices.
To be fair, you could talk about America as multicultural, but not Americans. You would be within your rights to refer to an 'American culture' however to define it would be like juggling mercury. The moment you think you have it, it changes shape and is gone.
Edit: Here is a (stupid) question: Would an alien observing Earth be correct to refer to the 'Human Culture'? If so, I wonder how would they define it.
quote:As for your final question, yes, that is correct. It is defined, in law, as not being the "official" or even "preferred" system.
So what is the official system?
[This message has been edited by hoptoad (edited January 15, 2006).]
To be honest, I don't think the idea of a "personal culture" makes any sense. A culture is a social phenomenon. One person may receive the "totality of socially transmitted behavior patterns," etc., from their society, but he can't have a culture of his own. Therefore, if an individual receives this input from two parents of different cultures, he WOULD be a multicultural individual. That is, he has internalized all or parts of the socially transmitted behavior patterns of two (or more) sizable, distinct groups--each of which continues to exist on its own, with its culture intact. Now, if this country were truly a melting pot, after a while everybody would be inheriting the same mix. The original cultural groups would no longer exist, and the result would be a single American culture. But I don't see that happening anytime in the near future.
[This message has been edited by rickfisher (edited January 15, 2006).]
Don't make me explain 'society' to you. ie so·ci·e·ty B: A group of humans broadly distinguished from other groups by mutual interests, participation in characteristic relationships, shared institutions, and a common culture.
(This definition -- apart from implying that a multi-cultural society is not a single society because it does not have a common culture -- implies that a so-called 'multicultural society' must actually be a number of 'culturally diverse groups' associating one with another).
Of course people can have a personal culture. If it were not so there would be no cultural transmission of their new or peculiar beliefs, practices etc to their kids, friends or associates.
It is the process of TRANSMISSION that makes it culture.
We had a situation here in Australia where a dingo killed a kid on an offshore island. The dingoes had learned to come too close to humans to feed off rubbish. The Parks Rangers went and shot them all. Only the ones who would not come near humans were spared. Do you think that we continued to have a problem? No.
Why? Because the rubbish-eating dingoes did not pass on that behaviour/practice. Could an individual dingo in the future develop a rubbish-eating behaviour capable of being transmitted to their offspring and others? Of course. At that point, the dingo is generating a new culture, different from those that preceded it and probably from those that will follow.
It is similar to the spread of corruption in police service. The old dingoes teach the new dingoes how to eat rubbish-- so to speak. How can this culture, once established, be changed? Prevent the transmission. By assessing the old cops and isolating the ones you suspect may be corrupt. Ensure that the straight cops you have identified train-up the new recruits.
Does this mean that corruption will never reemerge? Of course not, because recruits bring in their own personal cultures to the job, right? Culture is about TRANSMISSION of those beliefs and practices, so even if they bring that trait to the job, you have created an environment designed to discourage the emergence, and retard the spread, of corruption.
You can't tell me that your folks didn't teach you a set of principles , beliefs, practices etc that is pretty much unique and combines to help create who you are. You do not have the same set of beliefs and practices etc as either of them, but rather a syntehesis of both plus a collection of others you have chosen for yourself along the way. You are wholly you. A totality of traits.
All forms of society have a culture. I am a family man, a son and father, I am also a church goer, I am also a designer, I am also a worker, and I am also an executive, I am also scots-descended Australian and a Queenslander, I am also a husband and partner etc etc etc Each of these social organisations has its own particular culture, different from other similar organisations around the world. The only place in the world where all these specific societies meet is in me. Each has influenced me in profound ways that I did not choose, but I have also changed my beliefs, practices etc by choice and with an attempt at fairness and integrity. Does that make me multicultural?
No. Like everyone else, I am influenced by many and various cultures but I do not possess many cultures. I have a personal culture derived from these influences and from my own choices.
My wife is Chinese/Samoan raised in New Zealand and living in Tasmania and my children are Chinese/Samoan/Scots/Australian. Does this make us a multicultural family? Maybe, but we also have a common culture, because we are a family. Does it make ME multicultural? Certainly not.
In a nutshell, you can't have a multicultural person because how can a person have two separate sets of attitudes and behaviours that they do not have in common with themself?
[This message has been edited by hoptoad (edited January 15, 2006).]
Culture and society are, indeed, closely related. A society has a common culture, yes; likewise, a culture is shared by a society. What's absurd is to call one person a society, so that they could be said to have their own culture. What you seem to be calling a "personal culture" is (I think) what I would call a personality--not just the innate tendencies, but how that material has been worked and modifed by my experiences and culture. My own culture is one aspect--only one, though a complex one--of my personality.
And of course culture is transmitted one person at a time (i.e., on an individual basis). That is how each person comes to share in the culture. Because every person is different, no one adopts all of their birth culture (or subsequent cultural exposures); and even if they did, they'd be unlikely to pass along all of it successfully. Because of this, a culture would die out or change beyond recognition very quickly--unless the society were there to help fill in the transmission holes of the parent(s).
quote:This definition -- apart from implying that a multi-cultural society is not a single society because it does not have a common culture -- implies that a so-called 'multicultural society' must actually be a number of 'culturally diverse groups' associating one with another
Exactly. I wouldn't claim that the US is the only place like this, but it is most certainly true of the US.
quote:cul·ture P Pronunciation Key (klchr) n. The totality of socially transmitted behavior patterns, arts, beliefs, institutions, and all other products of human work and thought.
Again, exactly. Culture is not the totality of your own personal behavior patterns that you got from your parents, but of the socially transmitted behavior patterns, etc. That means that it includes even the aspects that you might not have picked up, the things that all your neighbors do even if you don't. The totality. You need a society for that.
Multiple societies within a single geographical region make for multiculturalism. And a single individual who inherits the culture of more than one of those (still existing) societies is a multi-cultural individual.
[This message has been edited by rickfisher (edited January 16, 2006).]
Spaceman - having travelled to five continents and visited many countries....
...you're absolutely right. Ultimately, as humans, we have such a shared set of core values that I sometimes wonder just who we manage to get along so badly a lot of the time.
Individual concerns seem to be pretty much the same, the world over, and arguably could be boiled down almost to one single fundamental human desire; wanting to improve things for your children's sake.
The fact that I neither have nor want children clearly makes me an alien
Aliens aren't exempt from the rules of natural selection. That is to say, a human that doesn't want to reproduce is simply a (biologically) maladapted human. That's completely different from being a non-human.
quote:Of, relating to, or including several cultures.
I'll be quick with this one. I never said that individual Americans were generally multi-cultural (though I do make that claim for myself, or ourselves, as an individual, depending on how you define that term). I just said that Americans as a group had that quality to a degree that non-Americans don't believe possible and Americans themselves rarely truly notice.
On the other hand, looking at the definition above, there isn't any problem with saying that most individual Americans are "of [or] relating to...several cultures." And, to a degree that non-Americans simply don't understand. Believe me, I'm not making a paradoxical statement here. Simply stating a general fact about another culture, even a comparative fact about it, doesn't mean one doesn't relate to other cultures. It just means that one can state facts.
Like I (also) mentioned, I don't expect non-Americans to be capable of understanding or believing the degree to which Americans (here a plural refering to a group of people as a whole) are multicultural. I don't really mind being proved right...but it is getting a bit redundant by now
I know a number of Americans who are "cultural blends", and it's hard to imagine cities more effectively multi-cultural than New York or Los Angeles.
However, in my experience, many Americans are utterly hopeless in knowing what to do or how to act when actually faced with non-American cultures, and end up coming across as extremely boorish and superior, so I'd counsel caution about getting too carried away about championing the multicultural nature of American society.
But, of course, all my evidence for this is purely based on personal experience.
I'm not saying that I don't believe it possible that other populations could be as multi-cultural as Americans, I merely noted the fact that there isn't another comperable human population.
And tcher, did it occur to you that you were the hopelessly non-multi-cultural person in those particular encounters? Because that thought definitely crossed the minds of those boorish Americans you met (meaning that they worried that they might be at fault, and probably had to intentionally suppress their multi-cultural impulses).
As the above paranthetical comment might indicate, I'm not "championing the multicultural nature of American society." I think that some of the underlying causes of the complex might be good things, but by and large I think it's silly.