A friend was frothing slightly (well, actually quite a lot) recently about changes that her publisher wanted to make to the text of her book. Basically, the publisher wanted to Americanise all the English terminology and speech in the book, presumably to make it more appealing to American publishers when selling the rights. Yet the book is set in England, and written by an English person - so what's wrong with leaving it as it is? Why does it need to be Americanised?
Here in the UK we regularly buy and read books which are full of Americanese, both language and in its expectations that we will also be familiar with all things American - shops, food, slang, clothes, music, behaviour ... Not to mention the insistence on inflicting quaint spellings on us such as gray instead of grey, color instead of colour ... We cope. We work it out, through the context or by - if necessary - looking it up. Where a book is set in America, or features American protagonists, then if anything, it adds an extra layer of atmosphere and colour, making it feel more real ... The same applies just as much to books which are set in England, and feature English characters. Do American publishers really think that their American readers are that dim? The US audience may be larger than the UK one, but surely isn't less intelligent than its UK counterparts.
So come on, let's have a bit of equality with our American cousins! Leave our English books the way they were wrote!