The 51st State
7 September 2004
When you log onto the Internet you leave your house. You leave your state, you leave your country. You enter a global morass of words, thoughts and images. That is the Internet – borders no longer exist. You can buy car tyres off a Canadian, chat with a South African and read a Turkish manifesto. It's truly a Global Vill ... no, I won't say it. :o]
However, whenever borders are removed you always get conflict. Not necessarily guns and explosions, but misunderstandings and competition. And I hate to say it, but I think we're losing the battle. Americans needn't be concerned, because they're winning. No, it's the colonial outposts that are suffering. England, Australia, New Zealand; pretty much any place whose residents know better than to tack a rasping, razor sharp "z" onto the end of words just because it's phonetic: analyze, synthesize, monetize, realize. Our language is dying!
It might seem a petty thing, but our language is part of our identity. As we progress into the future, the Internet is becoming a major part of that identity, and the Internet is American. Or at least the english speaking part is. According to Alexa (an adjunct of those damn yankees, Amazon) the ten most visited english language sites are all American. Most importantly, four of those ten sites (Yahoo, MSN, Google and Go) are search engines.
With technology sans frontiers it becomes increasingly important that you cater to a global market. Search engines are one of the most effective ways of giving that global market access to your web pages, but they can only do that if people look for the right words. Let me rephrase that: they can only do that if you have the right words that people are looking for. When you type "grey" into Google, you get vastly different results than when you type "gray", yet if we're talking about colo(u)rs, then they're both the same thing. The same can be said for catalogue/catalog, apologise/apologize, behaviour/behavior, centre/center, etcetera, etcetera.
When you're writing, you've got to choose the way you're going to write. When you're writing on the Web, and you want the world to listen, which way are you going to choose? The way that gets you the most listeners.
It is not looking good for my old friend "colour", I'm afraid.
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