Sometimes I Like to Be a Wee Bit British

English: British versions of the Harry Potter ...

Bloomsbury editions of the Harry Potter series

When my husband and I saw the movie The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, we joked that if we ever had a daughter, we’d have to teach her to speak with a British accent because Lucy Pevensie was just so darn cute. As fate would have it, we had two boys instead, so I guess we’ll never know if we would have stuck to the plan. But there are still many things British that we love.

We’re Harry Potter geeks, so much so, in fact, that when I found that some of the language was Americanized in the Scholastic editions, I searched far and wide and finally purchased the Bloomsbury (British) editions of all seven books. There’s something about reading the words the way J.K. Rowling wrote them (not to mention that the title of the first book was changed in the American version) that makes me feel like I’m getting a more authentic experience.

I have to extend my love to the entire United Kingdom. I recently saw Disney Pixar’s Brave, and anything with bagpipes stirs my soul. (And I still say that real men wear kilts.) Being Presbyterian, I am Scottish by denomination, although my heritage is mostly Irish.

I guess the biggest give-aways about my occasional British affinity are a couple spelling choices that I make. I cannot make myself write “gray” or “theater,” unless, of course, those spellings are used in proper nouns. I’m more of a “grey” and “theatre” kind of girl. I can’t ever remember a time when I chose to write these words the preferred American way, nor did any teachers ever try to correct me—nor should they. I suppose I’m inconsistent, since I still write “color” and “labor” instead of adding the optional “u,” but I’m not the only one out there doing these kinds of things, am I? Come on, somebody, admit you like to break out of the mold a little, too. (And not capitalizing doesn’t count! e.e. cummings already took that one.)

14 thoughts on “Sometimes I Like to Be a Wee Bit British

  1. I punctuate more like the Brits. Not to the point of using single quotation marks instead of double, but I use more commas than Americans do and follow a more classic punctuation style still used by the Brits. Did you read “Eats Shoots & Leaves”? (And there’s another example; I put my punctuation to end the sentence outside the quotation marks when it belongs there, not always inside like the Americans now say is preferred.) Comes in handy when I’m editing for someone using British English!

  2. Chrissy says:

    I always write grey. 🙂

  3. amyfquincy says:

    So you have to be watching the Olympics! Accents aplenty!

    Sorry, have to disagree with you about Brave. I was so excited to have a strong, independent heroine, but I didn’t think it lived up to Pixar standards.

    Love the book review idea. I’ll look forward to learning about some good picks!

    • Am I a terrible person to say that I haven’t watched the Olympics since 1996? Not a bit. But, Amy, I will actually blame that on you and your blog about not watching as much TV–it’s the best thing I’ve done in a while:)

      You have to agree with me about kilts, right? Still, somehow I can’t convince Thomas to wear one. . .

      And I want to review your book! I already know that it’s going to be a smash-hit.

  4. jolafson says:

    Sarah, I am smiling at your conversation re punctuation. After ALL those lessons we spent on punctuation! And I have to say that I cannot read ANYTHING without editing the grammar and punctuation. 🙂 Way to go, girl! (or should I say, m’lady?)

  5. You should watch Doctor Who. You’d like it. I don’t recommend the older series, though. A lot of folks swear by them, but they’re very hard to watch. I strongly suggest beginning with the tenth Doctor (Christopher Eccelston) and going from there on. It’s fantastic!

  6. Julie Miller says:

    My personal rule (which I MAY have made up) is that I use “theatre” when it’s a live performance of a play or musical, but I use “theater” when I am referring to the cinema.
    As far as Brit love is concerned, I’m definitely also an Anglophile. I can’t wait until the day comes that I can return to London!
    On a side note, please teach Ian to speak in a British accent! That would be so amazing! (Boys with British accents are adorable too.)
    Last thing: I used Caught Ya’s in my classroom on a daily basis, and they kids loved them!

    • Well, even though you say use “theater” in the latter situation, it’s obvious you’re an Anglophile if you say “cinema” :o) I’ll let you know how the accent thing goes.

      Glad you did Caught Ya’s–they are an excellent tool, and I owe the beginnings of my editing experience to them.

  7. I’m an anglophile as well, writing “grey” instead of “gray” — Brit Lit is my favorite! If you want to see just how bad it is, read this post on my character models, ( I got embarrassed because I looked like such a WASP! Thanks for reblogging my post:) I’m glad I found a fellow writer mom. It’ll be so good to talk “shop”.

    • I love it! It certainly sounds like we have a lot in common. I have become a friendly introvert (in self-defense, I think), due to my day-job. I, too, am very uncomfortable in social situations–my husband and I are happy homebodies. I was homeschooled for four years, and my parents forced me to get involved with a choral program because I was too reclusive–and it’s a good thing because that’s where I met my husband.

      I’m glad to know someone else who’s read and loved the Space Triology–I recommend it often. Also, I read Madeleine L’Engle’s “Herself” (excerpts of her writings and whatnot) when I was pregnant with my first son, and it inspired me to start journaling again–still at it every day.

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