I work for a press-release distribution company -- a wire service essentially -- that has clients all over the world. I've yet to see any client companies based in Africa though, but I'm certain its only a matter of time. But I digress, as you all know I like doing, so let's wrench this post back on track.
Some of my company's clients are based in England or in other countries where the standard English grammar learned in school is the British version and not the U.S. version. Now, I find it interesting to read these releases simply because it's a useful way to look at how other people write. The differences extend beyond spelling ones (i.e. "organisation" in Britain is "organization" in the U.S.), though, and it's something I wanted to talk about a bit.
In British English, punctuation always goes outside the quote mark, which means that a complete sentence inside a quote looks like this ". instead of like this ." It's logical both ways, and appears to be more a matter of convention than anything else.
Another difference is in the way dialogue is attribute: "said Harry" in Britain as opposed to "Harry said" in the U.S. at the end of a piece of dialogue. Of course, some brief research shows this was a very recent change in styles -- Charlotte Temple and Ruth Hall, two U.S. novels written in the early and mid 1800s respectively, both use dialogue tags in the British style.
A recent discussion at Gary Corby's about the word "alright" brings up another one. The two-word version is "all right," and is the only "correct" usage according to both Merriam-Webster and the Oxford English Dictionary. However, according to some sources that I haven't found again, the word "alright" has gained a tacit approval in fiction, business, and journalistic publications.
What's this mean for you the writer? Well, you might find more than a few grammatical items changed in your text when you submit between British-standard countries and U.S.-standard countries. Bill Kirton, a Scotland-based mystery author, mentioned in the comment thread of Gary's post that his American editor changed every instance of "alright" to "all right," for one example.
Do I think changes across standards are necessary? Not really. Then again, I also read The Times of London for a British perspective on news reporting (I like British advocacy journalism more than U.S. "objectivity"). What do you think, loyal readers? Should editors change spellings, grammar, etc when releasing books in British-standard countries and U.S.-standard countries?