Sunday, 10 December 2017

More on Language and Writing

I recently posted a blog titled As Writers, Do We Need to be Perfect with our Language All the Time?
Continuing on from that blog, there is another aspect of provincial or regional writing I am covering here and would really like your input.

As authors our target market is world-wide but those us that live in a country not dominant in the publishing world (in my case Australia) we often have our own set of problems communicating with readers.

Although we speak English, we have our own jargon and slang. Readers may also not be familiar with our cities and towns, geography or landmarks.

One particular area that varies around the world is weights and measures. UK and Australia use metric while the USA use the imperial measurements and, in some cases, these can vary from those previous used in UK etc.

In the case of the book I am writing, the life of the lady who is the subject of the biography spans 1928 to 2002. During that time Australia converted from pounds, shillings and pence to decimal currency and from imperial measurements to metric. It is similar in Europe with the conversion to Euro.
So, dear readers, here are my questions:

Does slang and jargon need to be written in an ‘international’ way or does that lose the uniqueness of place and people.
Should we provide maps and images containing information about the scene of the story? Are descriptive passages enough? Or should we leave it to the reader to search out unfamiliar information.

Do we just use the terms we are familiar with or do we add explanations such as conversions tables, footnotes and appendices? 

Does the importance of attention to this detail apply more to non fiction than fiction?


  1. Retention of 'uniqueness' is important both in setting and author/book voice. When it comes to metrics and currency it is, or should be, sufficient to simply use the terms prevalent at the time (most people recognise the differences these days). 'Slang' is a different situation. Unless it is readily apparent what the term refers to it would probably be sensible to add a footnote or something similar. Maps? Rather depends upon the story/account. Is it necessary to know precisely where the location is? Agreed, for books like Lord of Rings and Fire and Ice (Game of Thrones) maps create an added interest but for other books, not so sure. Naturally, non-fiction advisory books need to be detailed and accurate and therefore more accurate information would be required. Hope this helps Pam.

  2. Great input into the topic. Thank you Tanya