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The things to be aware of when writing the content for an audience

18 January 2013

You may think that since the biggest part of population speaks English, it will be easy to create a website with the English content that can be understood all over the world. To a greater extent it’s true that the English language in one country is mostly the same as that spoken in another country. However, there are certain variations you may want to be aware of to be able to reduce misunderstanding when your website is read by an English-speaking user in another country.

The major distinctions between UK and US English

The most obvious difference is spelling. People from different English-speaking countries write a large amount of English words differently. As an example, a big number of commonly-used words is spelt differently in the US compared to the UK and most countries in the world. You might be surprised to find out but the list of spelling differences between US and UK is quite long. The suffixes -ise and -ize is one simple example of such spelling differences. However, this difference is not that problematic when the comprehension of the content concerned.

Different words for the same concept

Sometimes different English variants have different words for the same concept. That’s already more problematic issue. What UK variant calls “capital and small lessons”, people call “upper and lowercase” in the US. “Gas” and “flash” are called “petrol” and “torch” in the UK correspondingly. Therefore, if you want your content to be understood worldwide, make sure to provide it with explanatory notes and references. As a rule, webmasters don’t add explanatory notes and the reason is, because they simply don’t know about these differences. Sure enough, if you’ve lived all your life and used one word to name a certain object or concept, you won’t think twice about using it. The truth is, it can become a daunting task to constantly look for both variants in dictionary when you need to use a certain word.

Same words and different meanings

This case is far worse than those two mentioned above. This can become a reason for big misunderstanding. For example, “a public school” has got an opposite meaning in the UK and US. The same can be said about football. In the UK it’s a completely different game. In this case you need to explain what exactly your word means or use the alternative for the other variant.

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