My dear Gentle Reader,
This is not a topic I get asked about much anymore but just in case I’m hit with a number of the Very Curious after reading a Parasolverse book, I am going to address a delicate subject here and now…
or should I say?
Right, so you may or may not be aware of the fact that British and American English languages are different ~ I mean not only spoken, but written as well.
(Yes, that’s sarasam.)
All my books are written how I write (surprise surprise) which is a kind of pigeon British American pseudo-Victorian codswallop.
It’s not too Victorian because that’s hard to read and a pain to write perfectly. Besides, I write steampunk, it’s confusing enough already without loading it down with an overabundance of poncey vocabulary.
(OK, but I don’t have too much, I hope?)
My first book, Soulless, sold to Orbit in the USA years before it sold to the UK.
Despite its European origins, Orbit US is an American publishing house. They applied house rules to my codswallop and made everything American: spelling, vocabulary, semantics, etc…
So ladybird is ladybug in these books.
|*Coccinella Franco Moschino, 1995 The Metropolitan Museum of Art|
I know Coccinellidae are neither bird nor bug (they are beetle), but I’m with the Americans on this one, ladybug is closer. If you are curious as to where the “lady” comes from here’s an article.
Also, if I put ladybird into a book for an American audience they (mostly) have no idea what I’m talking about, and are confused. Even those who do know, would be briefly thrown out of the reader’s immersion experience to remember and I work hard to avoid that as an author.
Miss Gail doesn’t like confused readers.
Because we started with American English, the rest of the Parasol Protectorate series followed in the same style (ebooks, omnibus, etc.)
By the time England purchased the series to release in the UK (three other territories got there first, mind you, including the French) they were playing catch up and wanted to produce the books as quickly as possible. (Ever wondered why the first 2 appeared in the UK in Mass Market? Yeah, someone sneaked over the US editions and sold them with stickers over the $ price. To this day my UK publisher is confused as to why they had an uptick in sales on the 3rd book. Why? Because it was really the first one they put out before readers could get the book elsewhere. Globalization is very confusing to publishers.)
Right, so where was I?
All 5 Parasol Protectorate books are American language no mater what English language territory or edition!
(US/Canada/UK/Australia/New Zealand/eBook/omnibus/Mass Market/Trade)
The outraged emails they cometh from the UK readership.
- Miss Gail, why is it ladybug and not ladybird?
- Miss Gail, theater is spelled theatre.
- Miss Gail, you seem to have misplaced your “u” and changed all your “s” to “z.”
In an effort to prevent this from happening again, said Miss Gail negotiates terms into her Finishing School contract.
Given that there is more time (these books are produced once a year, as opposed to once every 6 months) could we anglicize? Theoretically, the UK house should have time to “translate.”
All is peace and harmony.
All 4 Finishing School books are American Language for US/Canada & associated territories, and then Anglicized for UK/Australia/New Zealand & associated territories.
So there are, in fact, two different versions* of the Finishing School books. The American ones, and the UK ones which are anglicized.
Miss Gail tries this tactic again with the Custard Protocol series.
Prudence is sent to a UK editor for the copy edit pass, sent back to Gail already anglicized, and then sent to print in that state for both markets. Which means the US is getting basically, the UK version.
Miss Gail freaks out about the ladybird problem.
There is a lot of that word in this book.
Stressed about confusing her readers (see above) Miss Gail panics and demands that at least some words be changed back to US language for the sake of clarity.
The Custard Protocol books should mainly be UK in style, with some exceptions for specific words in the US versus UK editions.
For Miss Gail feels ladybird is one step too too far.
So for the US release of Prudence, it should all be ladybug and in the UK ladybird.
But I’m not making any promises.
Confusion, thy name is publishing.
Prudence FAIL Addendum:
People found many spelling and formatting errors is in Prudence.
Some of these may be the result of the above process of going through the UK copy editor. Some of the spelling mistakes may be because they are actually UK spelling.
The first we worked hard to fix in subsequent editions. The second we did not.
Allusionist podcast episode 139 – Ladybird Ladybug
* versions = substantial text content change; as opposed to editions = different cover, print run, etc but text is essentially unchanged
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GAIL’S DAILY DOSE
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|1896-1903 The Victoria & Albert Museum|
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As an avid devotee of you books, I appreciate your efforts on our behalf in dealing with the language challenges.
Maybe I was raised on an overly large amount of British children's programming because I remember calling them "ladybirds" as a child until someone corrected me. I didn't really think of it as un-American, but I have a strange way of talking.
I'm sorry Miss Gail, but don't let whoever edited Prudence near any of your other manuscripts. Frequent clangers like "drones practicing seens from Shakespeare" threw my immersion experience far more than any momentary entomology semantic confusion.
It's charmingly sweet that you think I have that kind of power or control in the publishing industry.