Thursday, July 26, 2012

American French

One of my jobs for the next couple of days is to convert a paper I hope to submit for a conference in to U.S. English.  I have to begrudgingly admit that because the conference is in the U.S. I don’t have much grounds for complaint, but it seems like a bit of a tedious process for very little benefit (after all, are we really to assume that the international readership won’t understand use of the word “colour” in lieu of “color”?).  Hopefully it won’t waste a tonne* of my time.
Anyway, I saw a headline about the fast-food chain Chick-Fil-A yesterday and it has got me thinking about American English – or perhaps more accurately, American French – which is not as consistent in terms of pronunciation as one might expect.
For example, if I was from Maine, I might conceivably drive to Calais (pronounced “Callous”) in a coupe (pronounced “coop”).  I might then stop for some food – possibly some chicken fillets (“fil-ay,” apparently).  At some point I might also drink some herbal (“erbal”) tea – perhaps in the comfort of my hotel room.
C’est ridiculous, non?
I’m going to get back to weeding out the apparently unnecessary u’s in my paper.**   Meanwhile, if you’ve still got time on your hands, and have further questions about the important issues I have just raised, I’ll leave you in the capable hands of David Mitchell.

*for the purposes of this post, I am working in metric tonnes, where 1 tonne is 1000 kilograms (2200 pounds).
**more accurately, I should probably say “supervising Word as it corrects my apparent spelling mistakes”