Local flavour in writing

English is an international language of national and regional variety. How a person uses English depends on their background.

I’m fascinated by how other local languages affect English use. These languages may make their presence known through word order, vocabulary choice, and turns of phrase.

I think it’s particularly interesting to read the English of native Romance speakers. A language such as Italian shares a lot of vocabulary with English. So it’s inevitable that the shared vocabulary appears a lot when an Italian uses English.

As an editor I always have to think about how the writer’s local background influences their writing. I have to strike a balance between respecting individuality and highlighting issues that interfere with communication.

For editors it is really important to be sensitive to the purpose and context of a piece of writing. In some situations it is necessary to remove the local flavour from the writer’s words. At other times the flavour can stay.

I guess being British affects my thinking on this issue. In Britain we have several local native languages: Scots, Gaelic, Welsh, Manx and Cornish. For people who are interested, there is plenty of opportunity to think about the relationship between English and these other languages.

The closest language to English is Scots. The two are so similar that it used to be thought that Scots was simply a dialect.

In fact, they’re so close that it’s possible to write in English but with a heavy Scots element.

I’d love to work with Scots infused English writing but I doubt I’d ever have the required expertise.

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