Should you bite the ass off of a bear if you’re British?

This week I’ve been asked to make some copy sound more American. So my question is: Should you write phrases like 'bite the ass of off a bear' if, like me, you’re British?

I’m curious about what it means to sound American. Is it about spelling, phrases or writing in a more upbeat style? I could change the spelling of monetise, colour and programme, drop the s from maths and use phrases like gotten, off of, go figure or often times.

Would this make the copy sound more American? Would it be confusing to then discover the author was British/European. Or maybe it just sounds like international English?

What do you think?

Maybe next time I’ll just hand the gig over to an actual American copywriter!

  1. 1

    Hey, Kate.

    Are you writing this copy for your own content, or for someone else? If they're targeting an American market, I can see the reason for the ask. If they're advising you to write in an American cultural style to increase your own reach, then you're trading your own authenticity for that and it can come across a bit crass or trying too hard.

    The spelling is subtly different, of course, but that won't really change how your copy "sounds" to the mind's ear.

    Maybe listening to some podcasts with Americans could help you get the feel and rhythm for how they say things, although there you'd be taking the conversational phrasing there rather than the written word. Obviously there's not a universal American "sound" either, just like something might be phrased differently here in Wales to, say, London or Leeds.

    I'm pretty sure Americans use "off of" rather than "of off" too. For example, "he's that guy off of the TV".

    Can you / were you able to ask the person for more feedback on what they meant?

    1. 1

      Arrrgh! What an awful typo in the title ☹! Thanks for spotting it. I’ll change it now.
      Thanks for your points too, they’re really useful. I agree that it might sound a little inauthentic to try and mimic anyone’s cultural style. And it’s a good call to go back to the client and ask what they mean. I’m going to work out how to phrase this question so I’m ready next time 😊

  2. 1

    write for your audience.

    1. 1

      although now I see you have an MA in English linguistics I feel stupid - here's me with my grade C at O level English, not sure I know nuffin ;-)

      1. 1

        😊You’re right though; write for your reader is always the best advice.

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