What is International English?

International English

International English is a term often used to describe a generic version of the English Language used in documentation and technical writing. In order to understand the true meaning of the term ‘International English’, it is useful to know where in the world English is spoken.

Where is English mainly spoken?

English is spoken as an official language in…

  • Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States of America.

English is spoken as an official language along with other official languages in

  • the Republic of Ireland, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa.

In populous countries where English is official, but not natively spoken:

  • India, Nigeria, Pakistan and the Philippines
What is International English?

Different English Dialects

Despite its repeated use in business jargon, there is no such thing as a pure International English variant that works across all anglophone countries. Each variant has peculiarities and special features; British and American English being the ones with the most prominent differences.

STAR – One Solution for all your English translation

Keeping in mind these spelling and terminology differences, we can distinguish between American English on one hand and the so-called International English on the other. British English tends to be more widely accepted across the world, especially in anglophone countries; this is the approach taken when your US materials need to reach a global audience.

Additionally, some STAR customers need to translate their materials from any given language into a variant of English that can be used worldwide. For this particular case, we can translate your materials into International English and then assign a US reviewer that would identify any potential issue and therefore, communicate it to the translator.

The translator would then look for an adequate replacement if possible. This is similar to Internationalisation (i18n). The idea is to work on your original (or translated) English contents to minimize potential issues when targeting other regions.

For this purpose, any text can be analysed to avoid local terminology where possible. Proper and adequate synonyms are always a good way to start. Some other times the team will have to rephrase the term entirely.Example of British English:

  • In the event of fire do not use the lift. Contact the fire brigade.

Adaptation to US English:

  • In the event of fire do not use the elevator. Contact the fire department.

Internationalization:

  • In the event of fire use the stairs only. Contact the fire station.

English variants by country

Country Variant
Australia British English
The United Kingdom British English
The United States US English
Canada US English
New Zealand British English
Republic of Ireland British English
South Africa British English
India British English
Nigeria British English
Pakistan British English
The Philippines US English

British and American Spelling Differences

Spelling Difference British English American English
-re vs. -er noun ending Centre Center
-our vs. -or noun ending Flavour Flavor
-ence vs. -ense noun ending Licence License
-ize vs. -ise verb ending Apologize / apologise* Apologize
*British English uses both
-yze vs. -yse verb ending Paralyse Paralyze
“ae” or “oe” vs. “e” Paediatric Pediatric
-ogue vs. -og or -ogue* Catalogue Catalog / catalogue*
*US English uses both
Doubling the “l” at end of verb when inflecting it Travelling Traveling

Different Terminology

British English American English
Boot Trunk
Bumper Fender
Candy floss Cotton candy
Chips French fries
Crisps Chips
Gear lever Gearshift
Jumper Sweater
Queue Line
Timber Lumber
Windscreen Windshield
Tram Streetcar
Underground Subway
Railway railroad
Courgette Zucchini
Aubergine Eggplant
British English South African English
Jerky Biltong
Traffic light Robot
Pickup truck Bakkie

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