Why do we dislike American spelling and grammar? When I say ‘we’, I include myself grudgingly; I don’t mind American spelling much, but there are some things I would change about it.

What I’m pondering tonight (with a good bottle of wine to help me) is this: why has it become fashionable to deplore the way Americans write? These same Americans bring us gems such as Vanity Fair, Slate, The New York Times, Copyblogger, Ernest Hemingway, Faulkner and Alice Walker. What is wrong with American writing that we constantly ridicule it?

Yes, I realise there are some horrific abuses against the English Language: ‘grow a company’; ‘write me’; and ‘man the front desk’. But if that’s how they wish to speak, let them.

I far prefer their slightly more consistent use of grammar. I love it. When I read the Guardian website, I get a headache and switch to the New Yorker or The New York Times to counterbalance the effect. See, these guys have clear distinctions. They insist on using which only in non-restrictive clauses; that is used in restrictive clauses. Most of their publications still use whom to refer to the object in a sentence.  And something I rarely see in publications influenced by the British is the American use of that for inanimate objects and who is reserved for the rest of us.

Oh, give me an American writer any day. I try to enforce these rules in my own writing and everyday speech. It’s been difficult; I am Afrikaans speaking and I have been using the wrong words for so many years.

I don’t mind American spelling. I find that jewelry looks strangely pretty. What many people might not know is that the Americans kept many of the old British spellings when they became independent. There is also nothing wrong with -ize endings; the British have been using such endings for a couple of centuries I (it is also the preferred spelling of the OED). It’s just not as widespread as -ise endings.

Anyway. I’ll marry the first male writer who uses the subjunctive mood correctly, or at all. Or perhaps not. It might mean I’ll stay single for far too long.

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