George Bernard Shaw once wrote:
England and America are two countries separated by the same language.
But it’s not only England and America – there are numerous English-speaking countries separated by the same language. In fact, there are different parts of English-speaking countries likewise afflicted.
In general, I find the differences in the use of language fascinating. I’m sure by now the internet has taught everyone that the idea of ironing one’s pants has different meanings in the UK and the US. The differences in the way we use everyday words is one of the more interesting aspects of talking with people from around the world.
When it comes to writing fiction, however, these differences take on a much greater importance than mild amusement over using the phrase “fanny pack” in the wrong setting.
Know Your Character
As an Australian, it’s incredibly frustrating to read a book where an Australian character is reduced to a caricature of himself by the over-use, and incorrect use, of slang. I’ve come across Australian characters who seem to have eaten a Dictionary of Australian Slang for breakfast, and then vomited it all over the page.