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British and American Dictionaries Really are Different

Ross at Play

I sent an enquiry to Oxford University Press when I discovered a difference in the "citation form" used by British and American dictionaries.

This is their reply (with minor format changes)

Dear Ross,

Thank you for your query about hyphenation in British and American dictionaries.

There are no hard-and-fast rules on which words should be hyphenated, but because this is fluid, publishers tend to set up guidelines to ensure consistency within a text.

OUP's New Hart's Rules (Oxford, 2014) states:

Compound modifiers that follow a noun do not need hyphens:
the story is well known
the records are not up to date
an agreement of long standing
poetry from the nineteenth century


but a compound expression preceding the noun is generally hyphenated when it forms a unit modifying the noun:
a well-known story
up-to-date records
a long-standing agreement
nineteenth-century poetry


In Oxford dictionaries, the form without the hyphen is given as the headword, as you point out, although some expressions are always hyphenated (e.g. middle-class). It does seem to be the case that some American publishers have a preference for the hyphenated spelling as the citation form in their dictionaries. To quote Hart's Rules again:

Since hyphenation often depends on the word's or phrase's role and its position in a sentence, and because it is to an extent dependent on adopted style or personal taste, it cannot be covered fully in a dictionary.


So, it is true:
* British dictionaries list some compound adjectives as hyphenated and others open (separate words). They expect users to change all to the hyphenated form when they ARE being used before a noun.

* American dictionaries list all compound adjectives as being hyphenated. They expect users to know the hyphens should be dropped when NOT being used before a noun.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Ross at Play

So, it is true:
* British dictionaries list some compound adjectives as hyphenated and others open (separate words). They expect users to change all to the hyphenated form when they ARE being used before a noun.

* American dictionaries list all compound adjectives as being hyphenated. They expect users to know the hyphens should be dropped when NOT being used before a noun.

So everyone agrees, except they don't!

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@Crumbly Writer

So everyone agrees, except they don't!

So what now?

I REALLY have no idea how writers using AmE can achieve any level of consistency in their choices regarding hyphenating compound adjectives after a noun.

The rule is simple: DON'T! But then there is a long list of exceptions, for starters '-year-old' but not ' years old'.

The only way I can see to make decisions at all is referring to your style guide. Do all of you Americans curl up in bed every night and re-read your copy of CMOS 7.85? I'M NOT JOKING! HOW ELSE can you possibly make consistent decisions?

Yes, we all know different guides give you different answers. What do you do so you get the same answer for the same word every time - whichever guide you happen to prefer? I trust you all just thought, "OH! Shit! That means my writing must be ..."

It's easy for writers using BrE. However eccentric it certainly is, I can always achieve consistency by looking up words in my dictionary

Ross at Play

I am expecting comments stating the bleeding obvious: they are only guides; they are all different.

SO WHAT ??? -- PICK ONE !!!

Now, if you cannot follow what IT recommends every time, that's just showing a lack of personal standards, in my opinion.

robberhands

@Ross at Play

I never looked into a style guide but I'm German and lacking any form of style and consistency anyway, which in itself is very stylish and consistent, I think, but I might be wrong and it isn't.

awnlee jawking

@Ross at Play

PICK ONE !!!


No. I will continue to believe that common sense and careful perusal on a case-by-case basis are far more useful tools to ensure comprehensibility than some arbitrary rule book.

AJ

Geek of Ages

@awnlee jawking

I will continue to believe that common sense and careful perusal on a case-by-case basis are far more useful tools to ensure comprehensibility than some arbitrary rule book.


This.

Also, it doesn't matter that much. Language is and always has been fluid. To try to treat it like a stone statue is ridiculous.

Ross at Play

The reactions are very much as I expected.

I see no reason why author should not seek consistent starting points before exercising their artistic choices.

Any implications I was even suggesting authors of fiction should be bound by the dictates of others is simply false. I have never stated any opinion here even remotely like that.

Ross at Play

@awnlee jawking

@Me
PICK ONE !!!
@You
No. I will continue to believe that common sense and careful perusal on a case-by-case basis are far more useful tools to ensure comprehensibility than some arbitrary rule book.

The ONE I pick is a new story-specific style guide I begin creating as I start writing every new project. I arbitrarily dismiss things I find in rule books when deciding what I record in one of my guides - based on the needs of that story.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
StarFleet Carl

@Ross at Play

I am expecting comments


Why?

First off, it's a subject that you started.

Second, if you didn't think that British and American English were different, you're going to be in for a shock when you find out that boys have outies and girls have innies.

Third, who gives a flip? If the writing styles by the assorted amateur authors on this site offends you, but the actual content of those contents doesn't, you might have a serious issue. (I'm only being slightly facetious about that last one. There are many authors on here that write so well, I think they ought to be dead tree published by a mainstream house. Unfortunately, there are many, many more that don't. I know right now I fit into the latter category, but I am making an effort to improve.)

Now, having said that, with the amount of emphasis that you place on guides, I simply have to ask ... what do you think the authors who were successful BEFORE those guides were out and easily available on the internet did? I'm in a business where we train constantly to improve ourselves, but we also have to internalize what we're taught in training to make it our own.

Ross at Play

@StarFleet Carl

There are many authors on here that write so well, I think they ought to be dead tree published by a mainstream house.

You may not see it, but it is those authors, and those who have ambitions to join them, who I am sincerely trying to help.

I never say authors of fiction should obey rules. I say understanding how the rules of formal writing work is a precondition for knowing when, how, and why to break them; which in turn is a precondition for being dead-tree 'published by a mainstream house'.

I would agree the way I express my views here is often provocative. I relish many of our heated but polite exchanges.

Some here consistently label me a Grammar Nazi - when they know damn well I believe it is very wrong for authors of fiction to slavishly follow any rules. I basically just roll my eyes, confident in the knowledge that all those Artistic Freedom Nazis will remain - with me - among those who'll never get close to achieving their dream.

robberhands

@Ross at Play

I basically just roll my eyes, confident in the knowledge that all those Artistic Freedom Nazis will remain - with me - among those who'll never get close to achieving their dream.

Artistic-Freedom Nazis, isn't it?

Replies:   Ross at Play
Switch Blayde

@Ross at Play

Do all of you Americans curl up in bed every night and re-read your copy of CMOS 7.85?


Nope, I curl up in bed with Grammar Girl.

*checks to see if my wife heard that

That didn't come out right.

Ross at Play

@robberhands

Artistic-Freedom Nazis, isn't it?

Laughed out loud! Thanks.

Switch Blayde

@Ross at Play

a long list of exceptions, for starters '-year-old' but not ' years old'.


That's not an exception. It's:

twelve-year-old boy
the boy was twelve years old

The first is before the noun while the second is after the noun.

Now you could also write:

The boy was a twelve-year-old, but then "twelve-year-old" is a noun.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Switch Blayde

@StarFleet Carl

but I am making an effort to improve.


Which is what Ross is doing. He is more serious than most. I commend him for that.

awnlee jawking

@Ross at Play

You may not see it, but it is those authors, and those who have ambitions to join them, who I am sincerely trying to help.


I'm concerned about the quality of that help. I can remember exactly how many times my Writers' Group (formed to encourage and assist aspiring writers) has discussed choosing a style guide, and they can be counted on the fingers of zero hands.

I never say authors of fiction should obey rules. I say understanding how the rules of formal writing work is a precondition for knowing when, how, and why to break them; which in turn is a precondition for being dead-tree 'published by a mainstream house'.


Again I'm unconvinced. Some of the English Language's most respected authors had only the benefits of a school education before they started writing.

You seem to be claiming that a dead-tree publisher won't touch an author unless they know 'rules of formal writing' but a) many of the rules are ephemeral and b) how can a dead tree publisher tell whether they're being broken deliberately or through ignorance?

AJ

Switch Blayde

@awnlee jawking

how can a dead tree publisher tell whether they're being broken deliberately or through ignorance?


If the story flows. It doesn't matter if it's deliberate or not.

Ross at Play

@awnlee jawking

how can a dead tree publisher tell whether they're being broken deliberately or through ignorance?

I don't want to argue. My answer to that would be that if an aspiring author is not willing to make the effort to achieve consistency for trivial, but easily preventable, things like hyphenation, then a prospective is certain to notice their writing is littered with more subtle errors affecting crucial things like avoiding ambiguity.
If a publisher decides to take on some number of new authors each year, and they have many more prospects who tell tales that could sell well, who do they select? I doubt it is those who consider only some aspects of writing to be important enough to put in efforts to be as good as they can be.

Dominions Son

@Ross at Play

I never say authors of fiction should obey rules. I say understanding how the rules of formal writing work is a precondition for knowing when


Except no one ever seems to be either willing or capable of discussing the why behind those rules in the first place. Without that, in my opinion, the understanding you want is not possible.

Switch Blayde

@Dominions Son

Except no one ever seems to be either willing or capable of discussing the why behind those rules in the first place.


In some cases, the why is simply an academic exercise. Like don't end a sentence with a preposition.

The important cases, though, is for comprehension/understanding. The comma is a good example. When misused, what is written is misinterpreted.

Dominions Son
Updated:

@Switch Blayde


The important cases, though, is for comprehension/understanding.


No, that would apply equally well to an infinite number of alternate rules if they were applied consistently.

The important why is not why some rule in general, but why this rule in particular. Such generic platitudes as you proffer don't qualify.

ETA: In regards to your comment about commas, if a different rule were to be formulated, taught to everyone and applied consistently and correctly, comprehension and understanding would suffer not at all, so that is no explanation at all of why this particular rule for commas.

Ross at Play

@Dominions Son

Except no one ever seems to be either willing or capable of discussing the why behind those rules in the first place. Without that, in my opinion, the understanding you want is not possible.

Not HERE! Obviously.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Ross at Play

Not HERE! Obviously.


Not anywhere that I have been able to discover.

Replies:   Ross at Play
awnlee jawking

@Switch Blayde

The important cases, though, is for comprehension/understanding. The comma is a good example. When misused, what is written is misinterpreted.


Oops!

In view of the serial comma controversy, choosing the comma as an example perhaps wasn't optimum ;)

AJ

Ross at Play

@Switch Blayde

Now you could also write:
The boy was a twelve-year-old, but then "twelve-year-old" is a noun.

Yes, it is a noun.

I may be the only one here who actually uses a guide seeking consistency in the expressions I hyphenate. I just checked the horrendous table I refer to frequently, CMOS 7.85, and what it contains is nothing like what I had thought.

I thought the entire table was dealing with compound adjectives. Actually, it certainly applies to nouns too? Now I am even more confused about how AmE deals with compound expressions. It looks like an adjective should be hyphenated after a noun if it would also be hyphenated when used as a noun. I know in BrE it is common for a compound noun to be open but the adjective is hyphenated.

It really is a nightmare but I have MY SOLUTION!

I am not going to work in AmE anymore. It's impossible for me to achieve the level of consistency I strive for in my own writing.

I will not do anymore detailed editing for AmE either. I may edit something written in AmE but only flag things I know are potentially different between the two.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Geek of Ages

I find it extremely telling that you keep referring to AmE and BrE as though they're single, monolithic dialects. The reality—especially with AmE—is far more complicated. There is no single AmE, in either speech or writing.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Switch Blayde

@Ross at Play

uses a guide seeking consistency in the expressions I hyphenate


I start out with what would sound confusing/incorrect if it didn't have the hyphen. Then I listen to what sounds best to my ear, not what a style guide or dictionary says. That's true for commas between adjectives, too.

Ross at Play

@Dominions Son

Not anywhere that I have been able to discover.

DS, I just posted an answer to that, but on a new thread, StackExchange (ELU) is Great - But It Totally SUCKS!

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Ross at Play

DS, I just posted an answer to that, but on a new thread, StackExchange (ELU) is Great - But It Totally SUCKS!


You completely misunderstood.

My point was not that I hadn't been able to discover sites that discuss grammar.

My point was that all the sites that discuss grammar that I have found discuss what and how but ignore why beyond platitudes so generic as to be meaningless.

A brief spot check of grammar questions at StackExchange (ELU) shows that it is no exception to the rule that no one discusses the why behind grammar rules.

Ross at Play

@Dominions Son

I just answered on the new StackExchange thread. Most of the questions asked are simplistic. Ask a good question in the right way and you will get good answers.

Geek of Ages

@Dominions Son

no one discusses the why behind grammar rules


I'd wager that's because there is no "why". Languages are ultimately arbitrary.

Crumbly Writer

@Ross at Play

I REALLY have no idea how writers using AmE can achieve any level of consistency in their choices regarding hyphenating compound adjectives after a noun.

Your response was informative. They agree with the standard rules concerning where the adjective is in relation to the noun, the only difference between English Dictionaries and American dictionaries are how they list the entry, not in how they hyphenate the phrase.

That's simple enough to follow.

Do all of you Americans curl up in bed every night and re-read your copy of CMOS 7.85? I'M NOT JOKING! HOW ELSE can you possibly make consistent decisions?

The key to consistency isn't jumping on the most referenced source and following their lead blindly. The key is to follow whichever guidelines you choose consistently, so readers, after only reading a few chapters, know what to expect.

There's always a 'grace period' with any book, which sci-fi authors typically use for world building, where authors are largely given carte blanche to set up their own little literary world. However, after the first couple of chapters, if you introduce anything which violates the 'rules' that you've stipulated for your novel, you'll be mercilessly crucified for your own inconsistency.

Few readers care wtf CMOS says on any matter, nor should they. All they care about is that a book is consistent, and not jumping from one convention to another and back again.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Crumbly Writer

@Ross at Play

I am expecting comments stating the bleeding obvious: they are only guides; they are all different.

SO WHAT ??? -- PICK ONE !!!

That's the point. Whichever you pick doesn't really matter, as long as you consistently follow it.

With the rise of self-published authors, who are no longer tied to a specific publisher who dictates which style guide they must follow, it's loosened the rules even more.

With no specific reason to listen to the contrary advice of a CMOS, we're picking and choosing our advice, often going with the 'most commonly followed', rather than the 'official standard' answer. But in the end, it doesn't matter!

All that matters is that readers can figure out what you're going to do, and can interpret how you phrase something by how you've used it earlier in the same book. (Though I say consistency must transend individual books, and that an author's individual style guide should guide each of his writings so readers know—going in—what to expect.)

Crumbly Writer

@Ross at Play

The ONE I pick is a new story-specific style guide I begin creating as I start writing every new project. I arbitrarily dismiss things I find in rule books when deciding what I record in one of my guides - based on the needs of that story.

Most authors—especially independently-published authors—have compiled their own style guides, based primarily on what works for each of them. Some write up their own style guides, and a few have even published theirs, while others (like me) simply keep theirs in their heads. They key, as always, is consistency in your approach, so you don't get glaring discrepancies.

Crumbly Writer

@Geek of Ages

I find it extremely telling that you keep referring to AmE and BrE as though they're single, monolithic dialects. The reality—especially with AmE—is far more complicated. There is no single AmE, in either speech or writing.

The extensive discussions we had concerning "dove" vs. "dived" being just a single example of that.

Ross at Play

@Crumbly Writer

the only difference between English Dictionaries and American dictionaries are how they list the entry, not in how they hyphenate the phrase.

There is one difference in rules between BrE and AmE. BrE (but this may just be the Oxford University style) has a rule that any compound adjective including a verb participle is always hyphenated, while CMOS those are generally only before. That seems to be confirmed when I scan though entries in the OED.

Another apparent difference is the OED lists many expressions which are always hyphenated as adjectives but open as nouns, while (I think) CMOS says hyphenation of adjectives after nouns is always the same as that of nouns.

The OED makes many choices seem truly eccentric to me.

This anything like this here gets very irritating. As soon as I say I use that guide I am accused of advocating slavish obedience - by others - to some capricious self-appointed "authority". In fact, I only 'PICK ONE' as the most convenient tool to assist in the real goal: the same expression used in the same manner will appear the same throughout one work. I really don't give a damn about what those choices are.

EXCEPT ... I do care! I want my choices to become so individual I have expressions that strike readers as appearing odd. There is a vast grey area in the middle but many in the both camps that will look odd if they are, or are not, hyphenated.

What I really want is tools and a process to achieve:
1. I always end up with the same format for the same expression used in the same way
2. I satisfy readers' expectations for for expressions will think odd if not in either the black camp or the while camp.

[I recent joke I saw about our sometimes-crazy PC-world. Some white people have started a campaign insisting people of colour should stop using offensive terms to label them. They are happy to comply with their preference to be referred to as 'people of colour' provided they will comply with our preference to be called 'people of pallor'.]

I've basically concluded it is impossible to achieve those two limited goals is impossible if I use any tool intended for those writing in AmE. I actually think AmE preferences are more rational than BrE - it's just I have no method to achieve consistency if I seek AmE preferences.

If I use BrE I can always look up the expression in a dictionary whenever I am have any doubt. If it's not listed apply a simple A or B rule.
If I use AmE when in doubt I would need to look up a table listing many categories, figure out which category my expression fits (e.g. is it noun + participle, or participle + noun, or is among a list of about 60 words and affixes with their own individual recommendation).

I am grateful to have learned it is impossible (no practical method exists) to achieve the standards I want if I write in AmE.

For those who write in AmE, good luck! However inflammatory my language here often is, I have been sincerely trying to figure out ways you could practically achieve similar personal standard to my not. It's not because I think the choices made are ultimately important. I've been thinking about those among you who have ambitions to one day impress a dead-tree publisher. If you ever get one to read your writing, I think managing to achieve consistency for things like this could be the difference between them choosing you or somebody else.

Geek of Ages

@Ross at Play

I think managing to achieve consistency for things like this could be the difference between them choosing you or somebody else.


I've yet to talk to an editor who has expressed that sort of sentiment. An inability to put sentences together, or a complete ignorance of how to use quotation marks? Yeah, that'll get you tossed quickly.

But no publisher worth their salt is going to toss out a fantastic story with fantastic characters and a fantastic plot just because sometimes you use hyphens and sometimes you don't. That's what copy editors are there for!

I think you are putting way too much focus on minor points of technical form and ignoring the real nuts and bolts of writing a good story.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play
Updated:

@Geek of Ages

I disagree. I believe attempting both would improve one's chances. I concede I have no evidence to support that opinion.

P.S. I don't really care what others do, but my pride will not allow me to do less. :-)

Replies:   Geek of Ages
Crumbly Writer

@Ross at Play

I've basically concluded it is impossible to achieve those two limited goals is impossible if I use any tool intended for those writing in AmE. I actually think AmE preferences are more rational than BrE - it's just I have no method to achieve consistency if I seek AmE preferences.

Sadly, if you refuse to deal with American English at all, you'll be doing the authors you edit for a real disservice. Most editors are able to switch between British and American English with only mild difficulties (mostly centered on the serial comma).

I suspect your objections are based on the Oxford University Press, rather than British English itself. Either way, writing off what many of your authors naturally focus on—assuming many of them are writing for American audiences—just because of a single contrary response by one source, seems a bit unreasonable.

Despite your many frustration with American English, most of the authors here—both Americans and non-Americans—don't seem to have the same difficulty.

Ross at Play

@Crumbly Writer

You WOULD be right; I do not intend to do that. :-)

An earlier draft of the above which I did not post clarified I would be willing to edit stories written in AmE.
I would warn the authors there are a few things specific to AmE they would need to do for themselves. I could list those things I am aware of. I would flag anything I notice that I know should ideally be checked.

My rationale would be that I have my standards when I edit; I will not attempt the impossible. They must decide on their standards for the final version if they are writing in AmE.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
awnlee jawking

@Crumbly Writer

Most editors are able to switch between British and American English with only mild difficulties (mostly centered on the serial comma).


I don't think that's true. I find it relatively easy to distinguish stories written by Limeys from those written by Yanks, and the differences are far more reaching than adding a few million commas and changing 'biscuit' to 'cookie'.

I've edited work by Americans but I always warn that my native language is Brit English and the authors need to have their stories given a once-over by an American editor/proofreader.

AJ

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Ross at Play

My rationale would be that I have my standards when I edit; I will not attempt the impossible. They must decide on their standards for the final version if they are writing in AmE.

I'm sorry, but that sounds suspiciously like "I'm washing my hands of any responsibility for the edit I'm providing, and I'm not interested in making sure that anything I'm suggested is in the least bit relevant." You'd do better simply saying, "I absolutely refuse to edit anything written in American English, because certain dictionaries can't agree on how to list hyphenated words."

Replies:   Ross at Play  sejintenej
Geek of Ages

@Ross at Play

I concede I have no evidence to support that opinion.


Then why bloviate on it?

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@awnlee jawking

I've edited work by Americans but I always warn that my native language is Brit English and the authors need to have their stories given a once-over by an American editor/proofreader.

And I've had several editors, both European and Australian, who've never given me ill-advised advice. True, I often have to ignore all the serial commas they add to my work, but other than that, I've never had a problem with their advice. As long as ALL your editors aren't native speakers (of American), I suspect most authors will be fine.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Crumbly Writer

@Geek of Ages

Then why bloviate on it?

To cool it down before drinking. 'D

Ernest Bywater

@Crumbly Writer

CW,

I agree with most of what you say about the editors. I've people from the US north-east, US south-east, US south-west, the UK, and Australia. I find all of their advice helpful, although there are times I ignore their suggestions, like when the US editors throw in fragmentation commas in the middle of a sentence because they think every damn phrase needs a comma after it.

Any comment or suggestion by an editor is a simple statement of: I found this not quite right, please look at it and make sure it says what you want it to say. Often the fact they have an issue shows I have to reword the section to make it clearer about what i want to say there. You'd be surprised how many times what I type in the keys comes out different in the file - common faults are out instead of our, teh instead of the, sue instead of use etc. let alone the times I hit the key too soft and it doesn't register. Then you have the cut and paste edits that don't mark up or delete as intended. And that is all before you get to where I mess up in the story itself.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Ross at Play
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer

that sounds suspiciously like "I'm washing my hands of any responsibility for the edit I'm providing, and I'm not interested in making sure that anything I'm suggested is in the least bit relevant."

It is at all nothing like that.

I will say, "This is the list of things I do not check for - because I do not have the time/inclination to assure you my advice is correct to the best of my ability."

Is it not reasonable to say there are limits to the work I voluntarily do for the benefit of others?

Is it not reasonable to say I set limits which ensure I can be proud of the quality of my work?

richardshagrin

@Ross at Play

'people of pallor'

both pink and white are colors.

Replies:   robberhands
robberhands

@richardshagrin

both pink and white are colors.

Did you mean, 'both, pink and white are colors', or are you talking about someone pinky-white with a sunburn?

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@robberhands

Did you mean, 'both, pink and white are colors'

If only ... If only the Germans and the Brits could work together, they could be ruling the world instead! Think about it, guys. Surely the benefits are worth whatever costs must be borne.

... until, of course, we are all obliged to learn Mandarin. :(

awnlee jawking

@Ross at Play

... until, of course, we are all obliged to learn Mandarin.


I wish those ghastly Spanish would learn Mandarin. Unfortunately they only want to grow Clementine.

AJ

Replies:   Ross at Play
awnlee jawking

@Ross at Play

If only the Germans and the Brits could work together


Excluding a few hops to-and-fro across the Channel and some interbreeding with Vikings etc, Brits are basically Germans. I think that's why we fight so much, because we're so similar.

AJ

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@awnlee jawking

Clementine.

An example of a slow-motion laugh ...

Clementine? No idea.
OALD: Oh, my darling ...
Wiki: Oranges. ?
... ... ... mandarines! :-)
OALD: Oh, my! It appears 'mandarine' may be an Australian-only pronunciation.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Ross at Play

@awnlee jawking

Brits are basically Germans.

Except that we use an average of about four syllables less per word.

@robberhands

In English the average number of letters per word is invariably five point something: less than 5.0 is baby talk and more than 6.0 is academicese.

What is the typical range in German?

Dominions Son

@Ross at Play

mandarines


Is that supposed to be some kind of Frankenstein cross between a Mandarin orange and a tangerine?

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@Dominions Son

Is that supposed to be some kind of Frankenstein cross between a Mandarin orange and a tangerine?

No. Exactly the same class (breed, whatever) that you call a 'mandarin', is called a 'mandarine' by some (at least) Australians, and an 'orange' by Chinese (I think) in SE Asia.

It's traditional for Chinese to give "oranges" to others for one of their annual holidays. They don't, well at least according to OALD, they give 'mandarins' to others.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Ross at Play

Exactly the same class (breed, whatever) that you call a 'mandarin'


No, I've never heard them just called 'mandarins' it's always 'mandarin oranges'

Replies:   sejintenej  Ross at Play
sejintenej

@Crumbly Writer

I'm sorry, but that sounds suspiciously like "I'm washing my hands of any responsibility for the edit I'm providing, and I'm not interested in making sure that anything I'm suggested is in the least bit relevant."

You fail to refer to his previous paragraph where he writes that he knows SOME of the AmE differences but cannot guarantee that for this purposehis AmE is perfect and advises a followup proofread. Seems sensible and, above all, honest.
That said, if we are to have AmE pushed at us then Americans should not object to BritE or AustE or even JamaicaE

sejintenej
Updated:

@Dominions Son


Exactly the same class (breed, whatever) that you call a 'mandarin'

No, I've never heard them just called 'mandarins' it's always 'mandarin oranges'


Another language difference; a mandarin is either a potentate or fruit depending on context. An orange is something different with its own full list of varieties from Blood through Seville to Lima. Mandarins (fruit) have their own varieties.

That said, no doubt someone from the Hebrides or closer might think differently and I have heard them referred to as Mandarin Oranges - a Chinese ruler might taste a bit off..

Replies:   awnlee jawking
Ross at Play
Updated:

@Dominions Son

No, I've never heard them just called 'mandarins' it's always 'mandarin oranges'

How could I have known? I have always called them 'mandarines'.

I went to my dictionary tonight, when the spellchecker said I was wrong, expecting the middle 'a' should be 'e'. OH! Wow. There is no 'e' at the end.

Ross at Play

@sejintenej

Seems sensible ...

Thanks.

Switch Blayde

@Ross at Play

What is the typical range in German?


I don't know German, but from reading signs in German and such, it's not that they have long words — they combine multiple words into a single word (without hyphens, of course).

robberhands

@Ross at Play

What is the typical range in German?

Too long.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
Ernest Bywater

@Ross at Play

What is the typical range in German?


under 50 metres for handguns and up to 1,200 metres for long guns.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
awnlee jawking

@sejintenej

Mandarin Oranges


That's what I was brought up to call them, shortened to just mandarins.

Santa Claus used to put them in my Christmas stocking every year. Unfortunately EU protectionism has cut us off from our previous suppliers and the Spanish only want to grow Clementines because there's a larger market for them.

Just heard on the news that the UK will be leaving the single market and customs union. We'll be outside EU protectionism so we'll be able to put Mandarin Oranges back on the menu. Yippee for Brexit.

AJ

awnlee jawking

@robberhands

Too long.


I've heard of that - it's somewhere in Australia, isn't it? Anywhere near Geelong?

AJ

Ross at Play

@awnlee jawking

UK will be leaving the single market and customs union.

And Ireland? Will the hard border be at Northern Ireland or the Irish Sea?

Replies:   awnlee jawking
Ernest Bywater

@awnlee jawking

I've heard of that - it's somewhere in Australia, isn't it? Anywhere near Geelong?


It just about has to be near the Murray River near Albury close to Howlong!

Ross at Play

@awnlee jawking

Too long.
I've heard of that - it's somewhere in Australia, isn't it? Anywhere near Geelong?

It's close.
Take the main road north out of Geelong, and once you pass Melbourne there's less than a thousand miles to go.
And, btw, those without a hearing impediment know it as Toowong.

awnlee jawking

@Ross at Play

We've been promised it won't be the Irish Sea.

There was a 'soft' border between the Irelands before we joined the EU so there's no strong reason for that not to be the case again, apart from Irish Republic intransigence. If you read the 'divorce' terms carefully, Theresa May was comprehensively outmanoeuvred in the language used to state the Irish situation: that particular area could return to bite us badly (ie cost us lots of money, because Irish Republic principles are governed by the prospect of a quick buck).

AJ

Ross at Play

@awnlee jawking

We've been promised it won't be the Irish Sea.

So that would mean the DUP does not withdraw support, no new election, no PM Corbyn for another four years.
You've dodged a bullet there, says this lifelong Labor man (working-class Aussies cannot spell).
Good luck with getting a trade deal with the EU including services.

Ross at Play

@awnlee jawking

Theresa May ... outmanoeuvred

Editor suggest you remove the redundancy.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
awnlee jawking

@Ross at Play

Heh, we were screwed on the divorce bill. The headline figure appears to be about £40 billion less than what we'll eventually pay, even though there's no legal obligation for us to pay anything :(

AJ

Replies:   Ross at Play
JohnBobMead
Updated:

I have vague recollections of Mandarin Oranges as a child.

Then for many years Tangerines were very common.

Now Mandarins and Clementines seem to be the popular varieties of thin skinned orange-colored citrus.

Reading the Wikipedia article, I realize that Mandarins and Mandarin Oranges are the same thing, it's just that I haven't heard anyone say "Mandarin Orange" in a very long time, since the 1970s, I'd guess.

I much prefer Mandarins, Tangerines, and Clementines to Oranges; I'm differencing them by the thickness of skin, Oranges have thick skins that I turned to cutting with a knife prior to peeling, to reduce damage to my fingertips; while making an initial cut with a Mandarin isn't a bad idea, it's nowhere near as necessary.

I was re-introduced to Mandarins by my sister's wife's family; they're very big on mandarins for the winter holidays. And they do show up in Christmas Stockings.

Ross at Play

@awnlee jawking

we were screwed on the divorce bill ... even though there's no legal obligation for us to pay anything :(

... and no legal obligation for them to offer you a better trade deal than Botswana. :(

Replies:   awnlee jawking
awnlee jawking

@Ross at Play

... and no legal obligation for them to offer you a better trade deal than Botswana.


Indeed.

Monetarily we buy more from the EU than vice versa, but percentagewise, the EU accounts for more of our exports than vice versa. So there's a sound financial incentive for both parties to agree a trade deal.

AJ

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@awnlee jawking

So there's a sound financial incentive for both parties to agree a trade deal.

There was a sound financial incentive too for the EU to step in before the free fall of the Greek economy had wiped out about a quarter of its GDP.
They could not because of moral hazard: if we fix a problem you created, others will oblige us to too. The EU must make the UK suffer to dissuade any others. :(

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Ross at Play

@awnlee jawking

UK will be leaving the single market and customs union.

That's going to cause a whole lot of problems in EU Heaven and EU Hell, ya know? After they'd finally got a system that worked.

In EU Heaven: the cooks are French, the police are English, the bankers are Belgian, the dancers are Spanish, the lovers are Italian, and it's all organised by the Germans. In EU Hell: the cooks are English, the police are French, the bankers are Spanish, the dancers are Belgian, the lovers are German, and it's all organised by the Italians.

Replies:   sejintenej
sejintenej

@JohnBobMead

I much prefer Mandarins, Tangerines, and Clementines to Oranges; I'm differencing them by the thickness of skin, Oranges have thick skins that I turned to cutting with a knife prior to peeling,

I often see tangerine marmalade in the shops - there are some of the fruit in the basket so I will have to try to make the marmalade. As for oranges, the real taste is in the skin and the pulp is not used. A lot of water is used - I got 2.5 litres marmalade out of four oranges.

sejintenej

@Ross at Play

In EU Heaven: the cooks are French ......

and the winemakers are English. (We do have a lot of decent chefs as well - that difference is critical)

Replies:   awnlee jawking
sejintenej
Updated:

@awnlee jawking


There was a 'soft' border between the Irelands before we joined the EU so there's no strong reason for that not to be the case again, apart from Irish Republic intransigence


It was not quite that soft in theory. In any case the treaty of about 1920 remains in force so true Irish people can still enter England, buy property, work and everything else quite freely. What I found strange was that if an Irish person worked in the UK for less than 6 months in 12 months (even by a day) and spent the rest outside the UK all his Income Tax was refunded.

BTW any person born in or of a parent from Northern Ireland is automatically and by right a citizen of the Republic and entitled to a passport. Therefore their children are also automatically citizens of the Republic though there are complications over grandchildren.

awnlee jawking

@sejintenej

@Ross at Play
In EU Heaven: the cooks are French ......

and the winemakers are English. (We do have a lot of decent chefs as well - that difference is critical)


French cooks are distinctly limited, a consequence of their own misguided sense of superiority. Besides, they never wash their hands :(

When the English climate was warmer and the Romans introduced grape-growing into the country, English wines were highly prized for their quality throughout the Roman Empire. The South of England is largely one massive lump of chalk, and that produces the best-flavoured wines.

If the rumoured global warming were to actually happen, perhaps English wines could one day regain those dizzy heights.

AJ

Replies:   sejintenej  sejintenej
Ross at Play
Updated:

French cooks are distinctly limited, a consequence of their own misguided sense of superiority.

Okay, Is there anything French that has not stood still for decades as Brits and Germans sprinted past them?

But be careful, Horatio, careful lest that column* grow too tall for you to come down. :-)

So yes, one out of twelve is very suspect, but can't you see the joke cannot work without:

In EU Heaven: ... the police are English ... In EU Hell: ... the police are French

* Yes, I do know the horse in Trafalgar Square is not up that bloody column. :-)

Replies:   awnlee jawking
awnlee jawking

@Ross at Play

In EU Heaven: ... the police are English


That's no longer true. They've effectively given up policing 'minor' crimes (shoplifting, burglary etc) in favour of only tackling those crimes where they can work in a nice warm office with a computer.

AJ

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@awnlee jawking

That's no longer true.

So, if English burglars have any sense they should start robbing restaurants.

richardshagrin

You left out engineering. In the original, heaven's engineers were German. I forget what country's engineers were in Hell. Probably French, since the options were England, Germany and France.

Replies:   awnlee jawking  Zom
awnlee jawking

@richardshagrin

You left out engineering. In the original, heaven's engineers were German.


Sadly Father Time has caught up with German engineering. Their once fabled cars are now average in reliability tables, well behind the Japanese :(

AJ

Crumbly Writer

@Ernest Bywater

I agree with most of what you say about the editors. I've people from the US north-east, US south-east, US south-west, the UK, and Australia. I find all of their advice helpful, although there are times I ignore their suggestions, like when the US editors throw in fragmentation commas in the middle of a sentence because they think every damn phrase needs a comma after it.

I agree with your summation, and it shows what I was saying (thought Ross still seems to miss the point). For many of us, especially those of us who know a little more about what to do, we don't take the work of an editor as gospel (though, to be honest, I never did from my very first edit). Instead, we know our story and we understand how what we wrote fits into the story. If what we wrote isn't clear, we fix it. But if what we wrote isn't what everyone else is doing, who cares, as we were going for something different when we wrote it.

Unfortunately, that's easier to do when you have a stable of editors, rather than a single one who you rely on. Often, in those positions, it often comes down to a force of wills, with a 'either you do it my way, or I'm hitting the bricks' mindset.

Ross, my point was mainly that you don't have to tell anyone what you won't do (besides scat stories, of course). Instead, you simply offer the advice you have, and they can either take it or ignore it. Chances are, if someone is trying to write a story, they already have a basic knowledge of both basic English and proper storytelling techniques. They may not know all the details, but they generally have a pretty decent idea of what's required in each particular scene.

Crumbly Writer

@sejintenej

You fail to refer to his previous paragraph where he writes that he knows SOME of the AmE differences but cannot guarantee that for this purposehis AmE is perfect and advises a followup proofread. Seems sensible and, above all, honest.

That said, if we are to have AmE pushed at us then Americans should not object to BritE or AustE or even JamaicaE

Again, I'm not objecting to an editor's limitations, only the assumption that the editor is the sole arbeiter of the proper way to write a story. Instead, I simply see editors as advisors. They alert you whenever something isn't right, and suggest alternatives, which you can either accept, reject, or take another approach. But having an editor refuse to even consider something is, for me, their way of saying they want nothing to do with what you're writing. I'm more objecting to the implications of his statement to his authors, rather than his intent, as it sounds like an abdication of responsibility, whether it is or not.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Crumbly Writer

@Ernest Bywater

under 50 metres for handguns and up to 1,200 metres for long guns.

Perfect for shooting Mandarins posing as mandarines!

Crumbly Writer

@JohnBobMead

I have vague recollections of Mandarin Oranges as a child.

Is a "Mandarin Orange" a Trump version of a Chinese Premiere?

By the way, while mandarins and the others are easier to eat, they're typically not as sweet as the orange (I'm assuming the skin provides enough protection for them to ripen longer before being devoured by bugs).

It's easy enough to find mandarins in America, but they're nowhere near as popular as Florida or California oranges are.

Crumbly Writer

@Ross at Play

The EU must make the UK suffer to dissuade any others.

Else, soon everyone will be eating mandarin oranges!

Sorry, but I keep confusing themes in this thread.

Ross at Play

@Crumbly Writer

But having an editor refuse to even consider something is, for me, their way of saying they want nothing to do with what you're writing.

I have no idea what you think I am saying I will refuse to do in the future.

I ask authors before starting what their preferences are for (a) AmE or BrE and (b) serial commas or not.

You complain here about your editors consistently adding in serial commas which you must ignore. That is an example of an editor being pigheaded, in my view. They are consistently abdicating their responsibility in a way I would never consider doing.

I write with serial commas myself, but I don't impose that on authors. When they they don't use them, I advise based on what I would do if writing without them. In fact, I don't even go that far. I would not suggest a comma I thought was optional, I would prefer, but it seems inconsistent with my knowledge of this author's writing style to have one.

I do not want the published version coming Frankenstein's Monster-style of comma usage. I may not care about the author's crappy story or their reputation, but I want to protect my reputation for having done a competent edit.

If an author tells me they write in AmE will tell them they must spellcheck their story in AmE before giving it to me. Doesn't every author routinely spellcheck everything anyway before sending it to any editor. If only! I will check carefully enough so I do not end up suggesting changes from the correct American spelling into the English spelling.

I will warn writers in AmE they may need to ignore some suggestions I make to change one preposition to another. There are times my BrE preference sounds odd to Americans.

All I am saying I will warn authors that there are some things I cannot check for the predominant AmE usage. I will not ignore those things, I will flag them as something they should check for themselves. I will advise they need to choose some style guide and learn how to apply it to such things. I will suggest CMOS 7.80 to 7.85 will contain a recommendation - but that I've devoted more effort attempting to understand that than anyone else I know and my conclusion is I could never learn how to always get the correct answer. I refuse to tell someone I will do my best when I know I could never be certain of knowing what is correct.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Zom

@richardshagrin

I forget what country's engineers were in Hell.

Undoubtedly Italian.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play
Updated:

@Zom

Undoubtedly Italian.

I had a moment just before leaving Italy which summed up the entire country for me.

I was on a shuttle bus at the airport going through some out-of-the-way car parks. There was a block of toilets. They did not have a green light and a red light for vacant or occupied; they had three lights.

The third light was for not in use, no doubt needed for it had been reported as not working, someone had been out to check and flicked a switch, but it had not yet been repaired.

About 12 hours later I arrived at Changi airport in Singapore. I was confident that if any toilet there is reported as not working whoever goes out to check knows that if repairs are needed, then someone will be on the job 24/7/52 until it is fixed.

And the entire effing country could use some intensive anger management therapy too. :(

Replies:   sejintenej
sejintenej

@awnlee jawking

If the rumoured global warming were to actually happen, perhaps English wines could one day regain those dizzy heights.


In a couple of recent years British wines have won their classes at blind tastings in Paris. Unfortunately those I have seen for sale are far more expensive that their better French competitors.

I'm biased after many years living close to a French Appelation and knowing many of the vignerons where tasting is free and unrestricted

sejintenej

@awnlee jawking

French cooks are distinctly limited, a consequence of their own misguided sense of superiority. Besides, they never wash their hands :(

Hardly so; they seem to get a five year apprenticeship whilst having visited and eaten at a UK culinary college I wouldn't want to eat there again. In France it is very uncommon to find a bad restaurant whereas in England there are plenty of them. Shat I condemn is the habit of chains, often breweries, over here cooking centrally and reheating.

As for French chefs not washing their hands I have been to cooking colleges here and ....... At least in France it is perfectly acceptable for customers to actually go into the kitchen - I always went to thank the brigade after a good meal

Replies:   awnlee jawking
sejintenej

@Ross at Play

About 12 hours later I arrived at Changi airport in Singapore. I was confident that if any toilet there is reported as not working whoever goes out to check knows that if repairs are needed, then someone will be on the job 24/7/52 until it is fixed.


That is how they all work and heaven help the guilty party if anything is not fully and properly fixed pdq. Some of their top people are pretty frightening in their efficiency and all-round purview

awnlee jawking

@sejintenej

As for French chefs not washing their hands


That was a joke. Whenever the Brits indulge in some racist sentiments against the French, they always manage to bring hygiene into it.

Rumour has it that Nigella is actually hygiene-lite when it comes to the hands :(

AJ

Crumbly Writer

@Ross at Play

You complain here about your editors consistently adding in serial commas which you must ignore. That is an example of an editor being pigheaded, in my view. They are consistently abdicating their responsibility in a way I would never consider doing.

No, it's simply a matter of them forgetting my preferences between projects (i.e. between books). It's not really a major problem, just a reoccurring annoyance.

Also, I wasn't criticizing you, just mentioning that it sounds like you're limiting what you're willing to consider, so I was cautioning you so there wouldn't be any miscommunications. There's a world of difference between someone saying "I'm not as familiar with this subject" and "I can't help you with this subject".

Doesn't every author routinely spellcheck everything anyway before sending it to any editor. If only!

Alas, we do, but as we all know, online spell checkers aren't terribly accurate. Plus, most of my typos are word substitutions, rather than flat out typos, so those (catching where I used the wrong word) wouldn't keep you from having to check your America dictionary on occasion. :( Even so, I'm pretty good about recognizing things which don't sound correct, or which don't fit my story, and so I'll ignore suggestions which I don't think fit the story. Less experienced authors are more reluctant to do that.

Doesn't every author routinely spellcheck everything anyway before sending it to any editor. If only!

That was my main point. Essentially "Don't say 'I don't,' rather say 'I'm not sure'."

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@Crumbly Writer

This is getting somewhat irritating. I am one of those editors who does take the process of negotiations with authors seriously.

Things I will not change are:
* I ask authors for a list of their preferences, especially AmE v BrE and serial comma v not. I urge them to provide a comprehensive list.
* I tell them I will apply CMOS for anything they have not specified.
* I tell them what I expect they will have done before sending anything to me.
* I explain what they may expect from me.

In practice, these negotiations may consist of explanations I what have done accompanying a small sample of my work.

I will tell authors using AmE I will check for homophones, but if they have not done a spellcheck in AmE before sending something to me they should expect the result 'garbage in, garbage out'.

What will change is I will tell authors it is impossible for me to check whether something written in AmE complies with 7.80 to 7.85 of CMOS.

I will explain those sections are not relevant to things written in BrE. The OED provides answers to those questions; American dictionaries do not.

I can flag expressions that need to be checked if an author is to be consistent throughout a story.

I think the disservice to authors would be telling them I will try to check for something when I know I cannot always find the same answer to the same question? It is not my prerogative to instruct them how to solve their dilemma: how to achieve internal consistency while also avoiding choices knowledgeable readers will assess as wrong.

It appears to me you are criticising me for (possibly) being the only editor on the site who understands what they should be doing, and is willing to try, well enough to be honest with authors about their limitations.

awnlee jawking

@Ross at Play

* I ask authors for a list of their preferences, especially AmE v BrE and serial comma v not. I urge them to provide a comprehensive list.


Sorry, but ugh!

How many novice writers have sufficient grasp of grammar etc to know what a serial comma etc is?

If you're working with novice authors, I think it would be better to dive into their work and discern for yourself their writing style.

AJ

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play
Updated:

@awnlee jawking

How many novice writers have sufficient grasp of grammar etc to know what a serial comma etc is?

I don't know.

I would not devote my limited intellect - NO ...? - I would not devote part of the limited time my intellect is available for helping others to those who NOT seriously devoted to learning such things.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
awnlee jawking

@Ross at Play

Of my writers' group, I'd bet that far more have troubled dead-tree publishers than have heard of CMoS. And quite a few of those wouldn't know the technical name for the serial/Oxford comma either.

But you're not charging for your service, so what preconditions you stipulate are entirely up to you.

AJ

Crumbly Writer

@Ross at Play

What will change is I will tell authors it is impossible for me to check whether something written in AmE complies with 7.80 to 7.85 of CMOS.

Uh ... how many authors do you know who know what CMOS 7.80 to 7.85 says, offhand? Authors don't live and die by CMOS in the same way you seem to assume. Generally, we each have our own styles, but we don't always base it on questionable authorities like CMOS. In fact, the ONLY people who FOLLOW CMOS are those who are REQUIRED to by their publishers!

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@Crumbly Writer

Uh ... how many authors do you know who know what CMOS 7.80 to 7.85 says

Everyone keeps saying consistency is the key. I TOTALLY AGREE. It doesn't matter much what choices an author makes, as long as they are mostly in accordance with readers' expectations.

I tell authors I insist on being allowed to check they are being consistent. I ask them to list whatever preferences they may have and say I will apply CMOS when they have not expressed any preference.

DO YOU HAVE A PROBLEM WITH THAT?

"Oh, by the way," I say to authors who write in AmE, "there is one part of CMOS I do not check for, paragraphs 7.80 to 7.85. Sorry, it's so badly designed I cannot always find the right answer if I refer to it. If you define any alternative to me, we're all set. If you define nothing to me, I do not check for those details."

I do not need to say this to authors using BrE because the relevant information can always be found in a dictionary.

DO YOU HAVE A PROBLEM WITH THAT?

Authors usually say:

Generally, we each have our own styles


As long as their style only exists in their head, THEIR STYLE IS TO BE INCONSISTENT! I do not care - but I will not pretend it is otherwise.

You have been going on and on and on with complaints because I say I will no longer do some things.

WHAT WOULD YOU HAVE ME DO?

SUGGEST ANYTHING! I'll happily follow any defined methodology - except the one in CMOS because that is incomprehensible.

Otherwise, please go away and leave me alone - and take your inconsistent writing with you!

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