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.


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

English variants by country

AustraliaBritish English
The United KingdomBritish English
The United StatesUS English
CanadaUS English
New ZealandBritish English
Republic of IrelandBritish English
South AfricaBritish English
IndiaBritish English
NigeriaBritish English
PakistanBritish English
The PhilippinesUS English

British and American Spelling Differences

Spelling DifferenceBritish EnglishAmerican English
-re vs. -er noun endingCentreCenter
-our vs. -or noun endingFlavourFlavor
-ence vs. -ense noun endingLicenceLicense
-ize vs. -ise verb endingApologize / apologise*Apologize
*British English uses both
-yze vs. -yse verb endingParalyseParalyze
“ae” or “oe” vs. “e”PaediatricPediatric
-ogue vs. -og or -ogue*CatalogueCatalog / catalogue*
*US English uses both
Doubling the “l” at end of verb when inflecting itTravellingTraveling

Different Terminology

British EnglishAmerican English
Candy flossCotton candy
ChipsFrench fries
Gear leverGearshift
British EnglishSouth African English
Traffic lightRobot
Pickup truckBakkie