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Should tags be written in American or in British English?

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On Cooking, I sometimes run into comprehension issues as food is labelled differently around the world. One recent example for this is ground beef and minced meat which both essentially mean the same, however, the first one is used primarily in American English and the second one in British English.

These small comprehension issues are easily sorted out in the comments but I thought about tags where you don't have the opportunity to discuss their meanings. Should these be written in American English or in British English? Should American and British English tags coexist peacefully alongside? What about synonyms? Especially on Cooking, it would be helpful to find the right tag if you search for both ground beef and minced meat.

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3 comments

I think it depends on the context. To take one example, technical ISO/IEC programming standards for C and C++ uses American English, simply because these were originally American standards that became international. So there's formal technical terms such as undefined behavior (not behaviour), always with American spelling. Otherwise technical standards most often use British English - I suppose because ISO is located in Switzerland and Europeans tend to favour British English. Lundin 17 days ago

(As a non-English European I had honestly never heard the term ground beef until this post, I've always used the term minced meat and didn't even know it was British.) Lundin 17 days ago

Note that minced may is more general than ground beef. It can be used of lamb or pork too. Martin Bonner 1 day ago

3 answers

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Most English speakers are aware of the difference on the other side of the pond, at least for common terms.

As an American, I wouldn't be bothered by a Brit using "lorry" or "colour", although I might misunderstand "minced meat" at first glance. However, it would be very off-putting if I were forced to use the tag "colour" instead of "color".

The solution is to have tag synonyms, although I don't know whether the software supports that. There would be two tags "color" and "colour", for example, but both would point to the same tag definition. That definition can highlight both (or more) tags that it serves. Authors then pick whatever tag they are comfortable with.

For example the tags "ground beef" and "minced meat" would both point to the same definition:

American: Ground beef
British: Minced meat

Extruded ground-up cow. A common ingredient of fast food, and "mystery meat" served in schools.

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Unfortunately specific example happens to be complicated. Perhaps since mincemeat sounds like minced meat, in my UK experience minced meat is rarely used. I think just mince is more popular in speech – but, while likely to refer to beef, lamb and pork e.g. are other possibilities for both long and short forms. Cooking already has the [beef] tag (a Q about ground beef). There may be no role for either a [ground-beef] or a [minced-beef] tag, unless one will always be paired with [beef]. pnuts 15 days ago

@pnuts: Since I'm not familiar with the term "minced meat", I took it on face value from the question that it means the same as "ground beef" here in the US. In any case, it was just an example to illustrate the point, with the example definition meant to be more humorous than correct. Olin Lathrop 13 days ago

@OlinLathrop Yes, I smiled at your suggestion and got the point that it was just an example but ran out of characters before clarifying that I was doubtful about the "ground" part. Ground beef Q on cooking.codidact is presently tagged just [beef] – ie no language issue with that. Given where this Q is, something like colour/color might have been a better example, though precedent has an official A as something like "Up to each community to decide for itself". PS your ping did not notify me. pnuts 13 days ago

@pnuts, If you didn't get pinged, you should raise that as a bug. Olin Lathrop 13 days ago

@OlinLathrop IMO not worth the bother. I will probably see the Comment eventually anyway and: https://meta.codidact.com/questions/276110#answer-276111 pnuts 12 days ago

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A similar question was asked on English language and usage and the answer is that it depends on the audience. However choosing American English might be a better choice since it is more likely for the audience to be familiar with it:

(..) many Europeans have spent time in the U.S., or at least watch American movies. In the scientific realm, there are more publications written in American English so scientists may have more exposure to it.

Of course, having both forms defined as synonyms makes everybody happy, but makes it harder to manage the tags, so my suggestions is to prefer the US form as the base one.

Out of curiosity I have checked Google trends for two concepts and US forms seems to be way more used.

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Neither.

Both are wrong for they are incomplete.

Use any at the data layer, but if possible, both at the same time; and use something like 🇦🇹 blah / 🇩🇪 bleh at the presentation layer, and if possible feed it from the data base.

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