Color or Colour?

Although English is a language used throughout the world, it is not universal. For example in the United Kingdom many words are spelt differently than they would be in the United States. Beyond simple misspellings commonly used phrases can mean completely different things depending upon where you are in the world. The chart below from Ellis Pratt shows, in a comical way, some of these phrases.anglo

For a technical communicator this is an absolute nightmare. A product being launched in the United States and the United Kingdom would need two sets of documentation simply to accommodate the variance in language. These same issues exist even within the United States. Phrases that are common place in the south might sound absolutely foreign to someone from Maine, and they could carry with them a different meaning. The variance in language is something we always need to keep in mind when writing for audiences in different areas.


One thought on “Color or Colour?

  1. I thought this chart was so interesting! These aren’t things we think about, but the implications of what we say can definitely be taken different ways based on the culture we are in. It is especially interesting that even without a language barrier between the US and Britain, we can still have misunderstanding in business situations resulting from the phrases listed above.

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