Separated by a Common Language is a useful, interesting, and entertaining blog by Lynne Murphy, an American linguist (“Lynneguist”) who has been living and teaching in England for more than a decade. The blog’s name comes from a statement attributed to George Bernard Shaw: “England and America are two countries separated by a common language.” The blog explores the differences between British and U.S. usage, and the readers’ comments expand the discussion of the English language to the variants in their own countries, often chiming in from Ireland, Canada, Australia and other places separated by our common language.
One fascinating revelation I received from reading the blog is that there are countless variations in spelling, pronunciation, and usage within Britain and within the United States. I learned too that some places in the United States, such as Pennsylvania and Appalachia, have preserved some speech patterns brought with them by early British settlers.
As an editor, I find the wealth of information presented on the blog to be tremendously helpful. If you’re an editor, a writer, or just interested in words, I think you’ll enjoy Separated by a Common Language.
I discovered it in Katharine O’Moore Klopf’s Copyeditors’ Knowledge Base, which I browse now and then to see what new resources have been added. The Knowledge Base has been listed in my favorite resources since I started the blog in late 2014. Now it’s joined by Separated by a Common Language.
A word of reassurance: Lynne’s daughter isn’t really named Grover. “Grover” is a kind of screen name. However, I had read many of Lynne’s posts before discovering this, and I’d been wondering whether Grover is a girl’s name in Britain.
And a word of caution: sometimes the posts and comments get a little raunchy, partly because some words that are innocuous in Britain are considered rude in America and vice versa; this information can be helpful if you are traveling.