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Anatomical Natt


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Anatomical Natt

Brit-picking, language, and culture.

I've been wanting to know more about people's opinions of Brit-picking and other culture/language subjects, and a post saeva's made at hp_essays has gotten me on the ball. So. Questions to be answered!

Poll #302234 Brit-picking and Things Related.

What nationality are you?

What is your native language? (If English, please specify which country as well.)

If you are not British, do you have your HP fanfics Brit-picked?


If you are British, does it annoy, startle, or otherwise interrupt your reading to come across cultural or linguistic oddities in fics?


If you have your fics Brit-picked, why?

For my own satisfaction. I want to be as accurate as possible.
I want to make the story realistic for British readers.
Fandom pressure. Other people say it's a good idea, so I do it.

If you DON'T have your stories Brit-picked, why not?

Too lazy.
It's going a little far. Fanfiction is just a hobby!
I read a non-British version of the books. I write according to what's in those.

Since you started participating (or observing) fandom, has your communication with people from various countries affected the way you speak, write, or go about your daily life? (Do you use different slang words? Do you misspell words like color/colour or realize/realise? Do you understand more of the content in foreign films?) Please comment!


It irritates the hell out of me that I need to have my story Brit-picked in order to give all potential readers the best experience they can have; but that's what's got to be done, in my opinion, so I do it. A lot of the time, anyway. (I have found myself wishing this Harry Potter fellow were American, or, at least, that Rowling were American, so fanfic would be more convenient for me to write.)

I can imagine how, for a British person, it would be odd to come across things uncommon in Britain in an HP fic. Still, I'd like to know first hand. Does anyone know of any fanfics written about American stories or T.V. shows, etc, that contain Briticisms? Any fandom is fine. I think I'll go search for some on my own too, but if anyone could rec something, that would be a great way for me simulate being a British person and reading an HP fic full of Americanisms.

On the side, what would you call American-picking? The term American-picking is clunky!


"Excuse me, Natt, would you mind giving me a good, thorough Yank-spank?"


"I mean my fic!" *flushes*

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See, these are two completely different issues to me.

Take Stargate SG-1 for example. Stargate SG-1, which is a show with a huge UK fan-base (in fact most of the big sites are ran and/or hosted by Brits,) is not edited, altered, or translated in any way before being shown on Sky One. What they get is exactly what Americans get.

[I know because I download my files from that run. (They get it a week earlier, after all, and I didn't want to be spoiled by what was going up on the sites.)]

So, I think it's more akin to anime. Take people who write Sailor Moon fanfic in English. They're working off of dubbed or subtitled things -- i.e. translated. No one (well, no one I've met, at least) expects them to write their fanfic in the version they didn't receive -- the original Japanese version -- even though they're obviously missing linguistic and even cultural differences between the two versions, do they?

As a side note, I think your comment (in HP_Essays) made the best, most reasoned points, but there's the whole situational thing. If someone isn't culturally aware enough to recognise that "dude" is a regional variance and thus wouldn't be placed in the HP world, do you feel they'd think to get a Brit-picker?

It's like the people (I nearly said preteen girls but that might be an unfair assumption) that write cheerleaders at Hogwarts or have them listening to American Muggle bands or have "nerds and jocks." There's a good reason that a lot of these fics also have a lack of punctuation, grammar, and spelling and, yes, it is ignorance that could be fixed by a beta (though, then again, so could "dude" in a lot of cases.)

What *really* gets me is that you're supposed to get a Brit-picker so that you say trousers instead of pants, but these editings rarely take into considersation that they should be wearing robes, you know? Having someone who can explain the British prison system up and down is interesting but probably isn't going to help you write Azkaban. Etc.

Just because something is British doesn't mean it's consistent with the universe and a lot of time I feel that people sort of feel that way, if you know what I mean.

- Andrea.

If someone isn't culturally aware enough to recognise that "dude" is a regional variance and thus wouldn't be placed in the HP world, do you feel they'd think to get a Brit-picker?

No, they probably wouldn't know to get a Britpicker, which is a good point.

What *really* gets me is that you're supposed to get a Brit-picker so that you say trousers instead of pants, but these editings rarely take into considersation that they should be wearing robes, you know?

I do and I don't know. It would depend on your perception of canon. I think I can recall Harry wearing his Muggle clothes right under his robes in earlier books. I understand your point that there is no reason to have "pants" Brit-picked into "trousers" when trousers is incorrect in the first place. But that might not matter to some people, because not everyone writes fanfiction with the same standards. Some don't think it matters to stay true to canon, because they may think fanfiction is personal and should fulfill one's own desires on how the story should really go. I think your examples about pants and Azkaban are beta issues, yes, because they do not necessarily follow canon, but to someone else they may be Britpicking issues because, well, they might very well know it doesn't follow canon and just don't care; or they might disagree and say that trousers (aka pants) are canon because Harry has been known to wear them under his robes or because trousers are in the movie (but I don't personally feel that the movies are canon).

Argh. You're right, though. These are different subjects we're trying to talk about. It all depends on your perception. There is no one decision.

I think I know what you mean: British wizarding culture isn't necessarily British culture. We can see that if we compare life at Hogwarts to life at the Dursleys. But there are definate paralells that show a lot in the wizarding world is taken directly from British words and cultural aspects. I noticed someone mentioned the sellotape/spellotape thing in your post at hp_essays. They also eat a lot of very British foods. There's also the "fairy lights" thing, a joke which wouldn't make sense to anyone (most likely a non-Brit) who doesn't know that fairy lights are Christmas lights. Then again, some of these wizrding/British parallels could be blamed on the deliberate integration of Muggle and wizard cultures because of the pureblood versus Muggle-born controversy in the 70s, but I'll stop before I spiral off-subject. :)

i got to you vie wikdsushi via tilly_tilly_via snowyb ... yes live journal will get you anywhere

- aussie english has a lot of similarities to britglish though (nowhere near equivalence)

was thinking when i looked at the results that i tend to try to make the language as britty as i can (and i know i mess up) cause, for me, that's the flavour of the writing, like the sprinkles on top of a cake. you don't put sprinkles on, you've still got a perfectly lovely (maybe even better all round quality cake) but the sprinkles are... added and transform it a bit. (Reminds self about overextended metaphors and of the fact that i'm really Not hungry and don't want cake - who am i kidding?)

Hee. I know what you mean with the sprinkles. It makes the fic (er, cake) all the more complete.

I want some cake. :(

i always want cake
good thing i ~like~ being zaftig...

I'd love to have all my stuff Brit-picked. Usually, though, I can't even find a freaking beta let alone a Britpicker, so I do my best and cross my fingers. :)

Me too. I'm always scrounging for either, so I tend to have fics lying around un-read for weeks and weeks at a time. It's getting to the point that I'm going to give up on beta'ing and Brit-picking altogether. Argh. :)

I said "other" as to why I don't get my stuff Brit-picked, and the truth of it is, I really don't care. I feel pretty grounded in British English because I've been watching English television all my life, but if I miss a word or phrase here or there, oh well. And I refuse to use British spelling (colour, honour, neighbour, etc.) because as an American, I feel incredibly pretentious when I do so.

I've never had a complaint, so either the Brits aren't reading my stuff or I'm getting close enough for rock and roll. ;-)

I'm sorry, I've answered the fourth question by mistake and it seems you cannot eliminate the mark after it has been added.

I'm a Brazilian and I choose to translate my fics into English because HP fandom is constituted mostly by English speaking people. As I could choose to write my stories in American English or in British English (for me it's the same, I didn't even know which was which when I began to write fan-fiction), I've chosen British English because HP is, in my opinion, a series strongly influenced by British culture. But I see no reasons to try to impose the British pattern to anyone.

I've never had my fics specifically "Brit-picked" (as in, examined just for that purpose), but I trust my betas to pick up on anything glaringly obvious (though the longer I'm in fandom, the fewer [I hope!] glaringly obvious Brit-speak errors I make). But I generally look only at phrases, slang, general customs, etc. I've never bothered with British spellings (except once, I think, in a letter a character wrote) because (a) it's too much bother and (b) like gmth said above, it seems pretentious.

I don't know how it is for British readers, but, frankly, when I come across something in a fic I'm reading that a good Brit-picker would have caught, it bothers me far less than a canon error does. We non-Brits might not have as much exposure to British culture and customs, but there's no excuse for not knowing the books.


Now that's a phrase I could get behind. ;) *cough* Sorry, couldn't resist.

Now that's a phrase I could get behind.


I have my long fics Britpicked, but don't bother with the short ones as by now I feel I have a fairly good sense of what constitutes an unforgivably jarring Americanism. I don't adhere to British spelling in general, though.

Even as an American I find the usage of 'ass' rather than 'arse' jars me.

I'm British and I like HP fic to be Britishcised, it makes the characters seem more real. I'm a beta reader and I offer britpicking services. However, it's no big deal to me if I'm reading a fic and I come across American spelling or anything like that. Things like yearbooks or American types of candy can annoy me in HP fics but if it's not central to the plot at all I can ignore it. I do like dialogue especially to use British words and phrases but I can ignore the odd strange thing, as long as the whole fics not like it.

Once I wrote a James/Sirius PWP that revolved around chocolate spread and my American beta had no idea what chocolate spread was, which posed a bit of a problem cuz we have no other words for it here, and I was torn between sticking with what was an in-character term and what would make most sense to readers. So in the end I just put an authors note in the header explaining what chocolate spread was and that seemed to be okay. But it made me think about sometimes the difficulties in making fics accesible to people from everywhere :/

I write RPS about the Olsen twins, and I always try and find an American beta reader to help me make them seem more in character. If I have the characters use British slang or phrases etc then they'll seem much less real.

chocolate spread


Yeah, Nutella's a type of chocolate spread. Most people just call it chocolate spread here though and I don't know if that brands been around long enough for James and Sirius to have had it when they were teenagers. Having said that, I don't know when chocolate spread in general was invented :/

Well, *I* had Nutella in the 70s, so I'm sure they must have had it, or something similar.

I try to keep the prose neutral and AE or BE spelling isn't an issue with me. But I think the dialogue should at least sound British because, well, the characters are British.

I would also find it pretty odd if a British author were posting stories in an American-based fandom using British sayings and turns of phrase.

here via daily_snitch... and I sometimes have my stuff Brit-picked, if it's long or if someone's available, but no matter what, I 1. have "relentlessly American diction" (quoting from a review on a posting board somewhere), so it doesn't really matter, in the end, because I am not British; and 2. I just am not familiar enough with the slang to feel comfortable using a lot of it, and that shows, and that to me is more jarring than occasional Americanisms or whatever.

I mean, yes, I use 'jumper' instead of 'sweater' and 'arse' instead of 'ass,' etc., but slang phrases that roll off the tongue of a native Brit (or someone who's lived there a while) will not roll off mine, and if I feel awkward writing it, I can't believe it won't be awkward in the reading. And better to avoid it altogether than get it wrong, imo.

I mean, it's easy enough to substitute 'leaving feast' for graduation, if necessary, but 'bog standard' or 'popped his clogs' or what-have-you just feel strange to me, as if I'm hoping I've got [and hee! example here - I use 'gotten' a lot less nowadays in real life because of writing HP fic] them right instead of actually having them right, if that makes sense. And I don't like that tentativeness to infiltrate my writing.

I mean, yes, I use 'jumper' instead of 'sweater' and 'arse' instead of 'ass,' etc., but slang phrases that roll off the tongue of a native Brit (or someone who's lived there a while) will not roll off mine

Same here! I'm all right with using a few British variations of words like 'sweater' and 'ass,' but when it comes to slang phrases, I just won't do it. It's not my territory to intrude on, because, really, I can't even tell if I'm using it right; and to use a foreign phrase wrong would be more embarrassing than having a few very American phrases.

Here from daily_snitch. :)

I put "other" as my answer to why I don't get my stories Brit-picked, and thought I should explain myself a little. I live in Singapore, where our English has influences from both British and American English, but on the whole it leans more towards the former. You aren't likely to find anyone referring to the "trunk" of the car when they mean the "boot", and as far as spelling goes all our spelling is still British. Personally I have a fairly good sense of what is British ("biscuit") and what is American ("cookie").

Ultimately, I do think that Brit-picking is important, whether you do it yourself or have someone else help. It makes the atmosphere a lot more realistic and easier to get into.

I don't get everything Brit-picked, but I do have a Britpicker for my major WIP's. I do use American spellings, but I try to get rid of Americanisms as much as possible and I want to make sure my Britishisms are correct. This is mostly to give my fic a slightly more authentic feel and keep everyone in character, but I know I'm not fooling anyone -- I am an American.

Here via daily_snitch.

I picked other, because I only really do any sort of brit-picking when it's something I'm really not sure of.

But then, I've been told that my English is a very strange mix of Canadian, American, and British English to begin with. I grew up in Wisconsin, with Minnesotan parents, so my English to begin with is much more "Canadian" than most of the rest of the States. I grew up watching and reading British television and books, so I tend to use British slang and spelling - I didn't know you could spell grey with an "a" until I was yelled at by my 8th grade English teacher.

It's all very confusing.

I'm here via daily_snitch

Interesting questions you ask.

I have never actively sought out a Brit Picker, though one of my Beta's has kindly pointed out a few Brit-isms for me, mostly with spelling.

I personally do not care if a Fic is Brith Picked or not. If the letter U is used in spelling of the words "color" or "favorite" I am not going to stop reading a story, or let that detract from the tale the author is telling. I am also not going to freak out of Hermione is in Muggle London and walks down the sidewalk (despite the fact that British readers scream at me that it is the pavement, not the sidewalk). I'm not going to post negative feedback if Harry wears pants instead of trousers, either.

Some authors write for a hobby, other authors meticulously research their writing so it is as Britishly accurate as possible. As a reader, and a writer, I have to respect that.

I usually use as many british slang as I possibley know. I've been learning a lot since I started reading. I now understand "pram" (mostly from Peter Pan), "git/prat/berk", "taking the mickey", "you're pissed"/"pissing the day away", "bin", "jumper", "kip", etc.... most of the other slangs I understood after hearing it being used a few times. :)

I'm British and I usually don't have a problem if a fic hasn't been brit-picked. It's only when there's something totally unrealistic that it bothers me and that usually messes with canon as well anyway.
Plus over here in England I find we are influenced by American culture to a certain degree, so when it appears in a fic I might know what it is.
Still, it's a little annoying sometimes. But I've found that in the well written fic you don't even notice when they make a little mistake about what's british and what's not.

Lol, Yank-Spank. Anyway, I'm very british-tized, I spell and say many words in a Brit way. Like colour or rumour. I watch the BBC too, so I understand everything they say. I prefer if fics are Brit-picked, but if they're not, that's life. I can understand them either way.

(Deleted comment)
I often catch myself placing an Americanism in my story that just wouldn't be there, even in the AE versions of the books.

You've reminded me of something. Even though the Americanisms in the AE versions of the books are sort of small, when I go back to read them, the first two books especially, I am often very annoyed to see words like "sneakers" and "bangs." I find myself wondering why the publishers thought American children wouldn't be able to figure out a few foreign words. I'm glad they've stopped replacing a lot of words in the later books.

I don't think this has to do with your comment, but it was your comment that made the thought occur to me. :)

Just a comment...
I always Britpick. I want my fics to be as British as possible; they will never be perfect, of course, but at least I try.

I have heard comments like: "I'm an American and I write for an American audience." This is, to me, nothing but arrogance -it's like saying you don't want readers from other parts of the world. There's a whole world out there, and not all your readers will be American/British.
I'm neither American nor British, so I suppose I see this discussion a bit from the outside. I have also found that I have more extreme opinions in this case than most Brits...

(I have found myself wishing this Harry Potter fellow were American, or, at least, that Rowling were American, so fanfic would be more convenient for me to write.)
Personally, I'm very glad he's not. We in the rest of the world are constantly flooded with American culture, and I'm glad we have HP as a counterweight to that.

I think I'll stop there, before I get thrown out of the fandom...

As so many others, I'm here from daily_snitch. Hi!

Just wanted to clarify on my answers. I put 'other' in the question about not having my fics brit-picked. Somehow I just don't feel it necessary. In the six years I learned English from a textbook (different to the last three years, where we were only supposed to further our skills in that language), four of those years were about BE and two about AE. I just feel that I'm comfortable with the biggest differences as I learned about both languages (in additon to that I spent nine months in New Zealand, where the English is even more British than in Britain *g*; at least according to my host mum) and could see the differences between BE and AE on TV basically every day.

Er, sorry for the ramble, but this is really interesting. :)


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