About Nell

Language confusion

If you’re a Swedish person who writes in English every day (and on top of that lives in Malaysia), this might happen:

20161026_101306I started a list of revisions I’m going to do when I resume working on The Locked Room, and without realizing I wrote half the note in Swedish and the other half in English 😀

I consider myself a proficient English speaker, but there are some things that trip me up. The Oxford Comma, for example. In Swedish, we don’t add a final comma when we write a list of things. I wouldn’t write Bring me an eraser, a pencil, and a notebook, I would write Bring me an eraser, a pencil and a notebook. The “and” replaces the comma, and an Oxford Comma is grammatically incorrect.

That rule is so hardwired in me I use it when writing in English too. I’m sure my poor critique partners and beta readers are really tired of adding missing commas to my text. (Sorry ladies!)

There’s more. We learn British English in school in Sweden (at least back in the day when I went to school), which is why I always write towards instead of toward. (Sorry again!)

I love languages and I’m one of those weird people who honest to goodness love grammar. So while I’m frustrated that I can’t learn to use toward, I think the reason is interesting. The comments from beta readers and critique partners do more than help me with my writing, they help me become a better English speaker too. Isn’t that awesome?

I’m sorry for the high geekiness level in this post. Please don’t abandon me! 🙂


4 thoughts on “Language confusion”

  1. I am in awe of people speaking more than one language as fluently as you. English as a second language, especially, is so difficult to learn. The language is complicated in so many ways. Couple that with British vs. American and I have no words for how impressed I am with your skills.


  2. I’m also so impressed by people who are fluent enough in another language to write a whole story in it. My first draft with my Japanese mob book I had trouble with their dialogue because I was trying to do more the way Japanese is. (Not giving a direct no or letting a sentence trail off if the second half is clearly obvious.) It ended up being a big mess when I brought it to my in-person beta reading group.

    Also I wrote towards too until my editor pointed out it was wrong and I lived in the US all my life. I still think gray looks better as grey.


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