Tap or faucet; pavement or sidewalk; mobile or cell; lift or elevator? All these and more are well known words which are different in British and American English. The one that’s troubling me at the moment is… holiday, or vacation.
I’m getting a cover designed for Singled Out, preparing to publish early next year. I’ve been using the services of crowdsourcing design site 99Designs. It’s been a fascinating experience so far (and I’ll write more about it once the ‘contest’ delivers my perfect design). The site gives access to designers from all over the world – as far as I can tell, entries to my contest came from as far afield as the UK, Venezuela, Italy, Spain, the Philippines, the USA, Germany, Romania and who knows where else.
I provided a brief, which included my strapline for the front cover: Everyone brings baggage on a singles holiday.
You see where I’m going with this?
Everyone duly included it in their designs, which was great; except one designer took it upon themselves to modify it to read: Everyone brings baggage on a singles vacation.
Cheeky so-and-so, I thought! But then I realised, the designer was making a very valid point – and in the process, doing me a favour.
It’s obviously preferable that my book is as attractive to the American market as it is to the UK market, or anywhere else. Ideally, I want to sell to any and every person who’s happy to read English language books, wherever they reside. So my question is this:
- should I use the word holiday in my strapline, because I’m a Brit, or
- should I use the word vacation in my strapline, because I want to appeal to American readers, or
- should I invent another strapline that doesn’t involve use of either the word holiday or vacation?
It’s a dilemma, when your whole story is centred (or centered) around a… holiday/vacation.
Of course, the ideal solution would be to present a British English cover on Amazon.co.uk and an American English cover on Amazon.com (and whichever alternative is preferable in the various other Amazon domains) – but I haven’t yet explored whether this is even possible or practical. If it is, the problem goes away.
I’m still brainstorming alternative straplines anyway, as there’s always a better one hiding round the corner. But I’d love to hear your views, especially any Americans who might react either positively or negatively to a British English strapline. Or you could vote:
Oh, and since we’re talking about holidays – this seems like the perfect time to wish all my American readers/subscribers a Very Happy Thanksgiving!