U.K. vs. U.S. Writing Style and Word Usage


nabakov

This is another post based on the book, Nabokov’s Favorite Word is Mauve, by Ben Blatt, a book that looks at writing in a way that appeals to numbers geeks like myself as it looks for patterns and quantification of the books that we read and write.

This post looks at writing differences, real and perceived, between writing in the United States and the United Kingdom.

Blatt takes an interesting look at this and I thought I would share some highlights.

hpFirst, let’s look at the perception of these differences through the writing of fan fiction based on a popular series from the U.K. Blatt does this by looking at three stereotypical British words and their usage in fan fiction based on the Harry Potter series generated in the U.S. and U.K.

The three words are bloke, blimey and brilliant. The results of his analysis are interesting. He compares the frequency of the use of these words against their usage by J.K. Rowling across the seven-book series.

bloke

For ‘bloke’, he found that Harry Potter fan fiction in the U.K. used this word 10% more frequently than Ms. Rowling. In the U.S., it was used 23% more frequently.

blimey‘Blimey’ was used 14% more in the U.K. fan fiction vs. 31% more in the U.S.

brilliant‘Brilliant’ is used 38% more often in the U.K. and 45% more often in the U.S.

thg

Blatt then turned the tables and analyzed fan fiction for The Hunger Games series for the use of these ‘Britishisms’ when compared to the writing of J.K. Rowling.

bloke2

Bloke was used 1.5% more than Rowling’s writing in U.K. Hunger Games fan fiction and <.5% more in writing from U.S. fans.

brilliant2

For brilliant, it was used 13% more in U.K. Hunger Games fan fiction and 3% more by fan fiction writers in the U.S.

different

Blatt then looked at Erotica in terms of words used and other elements that differentiate U.S. vs. U.K. writing. The table below shows the most distinctive words used in U.S. vs. U.K. erotica.

ErOtIcA

Most Distinctive Words; British vs. American Erotica

UNITED STATES UNITED KINGDOM
Comforter Wanked
Trailer Knickers
Nightstand Bloke
Restroom Lads
Cowboy Suspender
Semester Settee
Grade Shagging
Doctor Fancied
Motel Sod
Cops Bum
Closet Loo
Railing Toilets
Downtown Hugely
Tub Squashed
Parking Cope
Scooted Duvet
Ranch Sordid
Refrigerator Pub
Truck Corridor

Another aspect of U.S. and U.K. differences in erotica that Blatt looked at is the use of accents in this style of writing. I thought this was particularly interesting. The table blow shows the results.

Most Popular Accents in Erotica by Author Location
UNITED STATES UNITED KINGDOM
Southern American
British English
English French
French Irish
European European
American Scottish
Italian Australian
Spanish Southern
Irish London

There are a few other categories that Blatt uses as the basis of comparison between U.S. and U.K. writing, but I thought these were the most interesting.

I hope these posts are fun for you to read. If you want to look at some of the other quantified writing entries that I’ve posted, you can find them at these links:

I look forward to your comments.

14 thoughts on “U.K. vs. U.S. Writing Style and Word Usage

  1. This is interesting.
    I think there is a great deal of interest in ‘other’ accents and unique words along with the challenge to replicate them into the written word. I have had much fun with this in my fantasy novel particularly as being outside of this reality I can get away with ‘oddities’ and generalisations.
    On another aspect:
    1878 ‘!’s in my 155,817 word novel; apparently a 1.20526% rate….James Joyce? That would explain a lot about my style, I didn’t realise he was such an influence.
    Thanks for the links.

    Liked by 1 person

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