snickfic: (Xander latin)
I was reading along in my latest issue of Mighty Avengers, and suddenly I sat up and said, "Huh, I did not this author was British." I looked him up, and lo he was. I got clued in because he used one of those tricky phrases that I think doesn't get included in the sweater/jumper list of American and British English differences.

So, here are three phrasings that always tell me that an author isn't American and which I wouldn't expect from an American character (generally speaking; I assume there are regional differences, but these have all been faithful indicators for me in the past as to authorship):

1. Using 'meant to' where I would use 'supposed to.' I usually interpret 'meant to' as being about, say, purpose or life meaning or someone's (say a parent's or God's) intentions for someone else. 'Supposed to' is much more immediate and includes expectations one puts on oneself.

Good example: Vivian always knew she was meant to work with kids.

Bad example: We're meant to be unpacking our stuff, but it's kind of turned into a housewarming.

Fixed example: We're supposed to be unpacking our stuff, but it's kind of turned into a housewarming.

2. 'Different to.' This FAQ breaks down the UK/US usage. Basically, US speakers never say 'different to,' ever. I would instead use 'different from' (which is apparently fairly standard worldwide) or 'different than' (which is more of an American-specific usage).

3. Singular/plural usage of collective nouns. I actually don't see non-American writers use this for American characters, so maybe everyone already knows about it, but I think it's cool, so I'm going to tell you about it anyway. Basically, American English always uses collective nouns (ex: family, team) as singular and British English sometimes uses them as plural, if the context treats the difference members as indivduals.

British English: The company are braced for lay-offs.

American English: The company is braced for lay-offs.

(I am not totally confident of my British English example there; someone tell me if it sounds ridiculous.)
snickfic: Dean smug (Dean smug)
Dear Panlexicon,

"Smugness" and "Autoeroticism" are not really even in the neighborhood of being synonyms.

Signed,
Me

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