Monday, December 20, 2004

Yankee Doodle Dandy
The following brief memo has caused no small amount of unrest on the copy desk at The Standard this afternoon.
It reads: "Hi all, We are switching to American English from Jan 1. This doesn't just mean we switch from s to z. It means we also use present-tense verbs. Sorry. Cheers (Name omitted)."
Apologies weren't needed as far as I was concerned. As the lone American on the copy desk struggling daily to remember to spell "cheque," "colour," "analyse," etc., turning "line-up" into "queue," "fired" into "sacked" and bemoaning the weird British stickler for keeping the past tense throughout a story even if it refers to an ongoing subject or event, I was frigging elated. My colleagues, however, were less enthusiastic.
As I did a little victory dance while pumping my fists and chanting "No more 'u's'! No more 'u's'! Check it out! Check it out! And I don't mean q.u.e!" one Brit was in the American managing editor's office saying that if it weren't for his financial responsibilities he'd quit on the spot. Another groused darkly about George W. Bush somehow being behind this travesity.
"So does this mean I can stop putting the quote marks inside the period when it's a partial quote?" I asked brightly.
"Why not?" snapped an churlish Aussie. "You already rule the world!"
Others are more saguine about the impending style change. One found Ray Charles' version of America the Beautiful on MP3 and began cranking it as loud as he could. "This will be manditory listening twice daily from this day forth," he proclaimed in his best British public (that's 'private' to us Yanks) school accent.
"Hey," I said to a New Zealander who is something of an American fan. "I guess we can use 'nixed' in a headline now!"
"I can't wait," he said. "That's what I love about American English. It's got street cred. I want to use 'down with that,' too. Like: 'China not down with Taiwan independence' or 'hip to.' 'Bejing not hip to Hong Kong bling.'''
Word, dawg. Word.
PS After more than a year I finally figured out how to add comments to this blog. I'd appreciate any you may have if you feel moved to make them.
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