Syntax, Sex and Soy Lattés

If you were a fly on the pillar next to where Cassandra and I were sitting today at The Coffee Club (and big shout-out to all the staff there who always greet us with a smile and the words “the usual?”), then you probably would have been gobsmacked and flabbergasted at the road our topic of conversation took. No, we actually weren’t talking about sex – I just threw that into the title because I knew it would get your attention. We were actually sitting there, talking about ‘syntax’ (and vernacular – but that doesn’t begin with an “s” so I left it out).

Due to our super-secret project (shhh), we were talking about how, although those of us who live in Australia, North America and the United Kingdom all speak “English” we still have different syntax for the same thing.

Eg: In America, if your character was lighting a candle, you would write: “Helena lighted the candle.”

In Australia, you would write: “Helena lit the candle.”

In the UK, if your character was standing right next to another character, you would write: “John was stood next to Agatha.”

In Australia, you would write: “John was standing next to Agatha.”

Even if we just take a quick look at the humble bathing suit, it can be known as: Bathers; Swimmers; Trunks; Cozzie – and those are just from the different States in Australia!

Hand-me-down cozzie

enjoying a little… garden bathing – 1970.

The point we were chatting about today over our coffees, was that if you’re writing a story set in a different country, or where your characters come from a different country, then their speech patterns should reflect this. That means research… and if research means that Cassandra and I must go and live in another country in order to accurately complete our “super secret project” (shhh) – then so be it!

I won’t say “good-bye” because in Australia, we prefer – “see ya later”.

Lucy– the soy latté drinker.

(lactose intolerance is not fun)

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3 thoughts on “Syntax, Sex and Soy Lattés

  1. It is funny (and annoying) the changes in parlance around the world, and it’s funny how it can drag you right out of a story when a character uses the wrong one.. Suddenly your hunky hero is saying “Well that’s a fine to do” and shattered is the illusion.

    • “Well that’s a fine to do” – yes. This phrase made me smile. It’s so true because if it hasn’t been set up properly it really can shatter that illusion and pull you right out of the story. Great point. Thanks.
      Lucy

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