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BEST PRACTICE: Us and them - breaking through the language barrier

  Duncan HeaneyUK and US English appear to be similar, but in reality there are significant differences between the languages. Those who work in marketing may need to communicate with UK readers as well as an audience that lies across the Atlantic. Awareness of the language differences goes a long way towards ensuring a message is fully comprehensible to both audiences.

“England and America are two countries divided by a common language.” The oft-quoted words of George Bernard Shaw are as relevant now as they have ever been. It was during the colonial period of American history when the languages began to diversify. Because contact with the mother country was infrequent, the two countries' languages began to separate. Settlers in the New World were continually encountering new flora, fauna and economic challenges and this contributed to the drift.

There are a number of problems that occur when writing for Britons and Americans. Awareness of these goes some way to ensure they can be avoided.