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  1. Member
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    #1

    Should I try to avoid mixing up AmE and BrE?

    A few days ago on a China-based IT forum a fellow forum member read an English post of mine that I contributed to a composition competition solicited by the forum. Languages were optional. He is Chinese, and now is located in Canada.

    He told me that my wording is British English. For example, I wrote "learnt" instead of "learned".

    I told him that I mix them up. I use the words whatever are saved in my brain disk. I don't pay much attention to what type of my English is, since My English largely is Chinglish. I know and have accepted the fact that I cannot write English as good as those who are educated native speakers or have a gift in English etc. It's like my Mandarin that has an accent too. It is fine that I limp along my way as I am neither a teacher of English nor a linguist. I mean that I don't mislead other people.

    Today I think of this issue again. Though my English is not good, I should try to write it neatly. Do you think that I should try to choose one type, either BrE or AmE, and stick to it or it is fine to mix them up?

    For example, I learnt English. My favourite color is gray. - Is the wording weird to you?

    Do fellow forum members who are not non-native speakers here have the issue like me?
    Last edited by tree123; 18-Dec-2019 at 23:16.
    Please correct my writing if there's any grammatical solecism.

  2. Moderator
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    #2

    Re: Should I try to avoid mixing AmE and BrE?

    Teachers will advise you to choose one or the other and take care not to mix the two varieties.

  3. Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    #3

    Re: Should I try to avoid mixing AmE and BrE?

    I would try to stick to one spelling system. Also, it is not just an issue affecting non-native speakers- having lived in Asia for years, I find that I say some words with an American stress. My mother commented on this a few years ago, and corrected me. Languages and variants do affect each other.

  4. emsr2d2's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: Should I try to avoid mixing up AmE and BrE?

    Quote Originally Posted by tree123 View Post
    For example, "I learnt English. My favourite color is gray." Is the wording weird to you?
    I would certainly notice that you used BrE spelling for "learnt" and AmE spelling for "color" and "gray". Weird? No. Noticeable? Yes.

    I agree with the general advice that you should choose one and stick to it.
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

  5. VIP Member
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    #5

    Re: Should I try to avoid mixing up AmE and BrE?

    NOT A TEACHER

    Hello, Tree:

    I think that if you plan to do business, etc. mostly with Americans, then you should seek to become proficient in American English.

    If you use some British spelling, punctuation, idioms, etc. in your speech and writing, you may unwittingly divert those Americans' attention from your message. The goal of good communication is to have the other person pay attention to what you are saying, not to how you are saying it.

    P.S. I think that you would not write a business letter in both traditional and simplified Chinese characters, would you?

    Best wishes
    Last edited by emsr2d2; 21-Dec-2019 at 18:07. Reason: Removed unnecessary line breaks

  6. jutfrank's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: Should I try to avoid mixing up AmE and BrE?

    If you're talking about spelling only, then yes, I suggest you stick consistently to one particular system. American is better.

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    #7

    Re: Should I try to avoid mixing up AmE and BrE?

    Quote Originally Posted by jutfrank View Post
    American is better.


    NOT A TEACHER


    1. Of course, I am not going to touch that opinion with a ten-foot pole. (I think the British say "a barge pole.")

    2. But it reminded me of a letter that I read many years ago in the British magazine London Review of Books.

    a. An Australian told the editor to stop using British spelling and switch to American spelling.

    b. The editor headlined the letter with "What a nerve!" or "What nerve!" (I forget which.)

  8. jutfrank's Avatar
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    #8

    Re: Should I try to avoid mixing up AmE and BrE?

    Quote Originally Posted by jutfrank View Post
    American is better.
    Perhaps I should have qualified this opinion.

    Where there are differences between the AmE and BrE sytems, American words are simpler and more phonetic, which makes them easier to use.

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