Recently I’ve been translating some stories with an American friend, and we’ve often run into the issue of mixing American English and British English. Each dialect carries thousands of exclusive meanings and connotations, and this leads to unexpected misunderstandings.

I once embarrassed myself by asking an American whether I could borrow his “rubber”. Neither of us were aware of the dual meaning of “rubber”: an eraser in the UK, a prophylactic in the USA.

More complicated examples abound. A “bill” is an invoice or request for payment in both American and British English, but in American English it can also mean paper money (a “note” in the UK). On the other hand, in British English, “the bill” might refer to the police, for reasons that nobody seems to know.

After being caught out enough times by such subtleties, I wondered if there was a website that could find and fix them for me. A quick search revealed that existing sites only detected regional spellings, such as “analyse” / “analyze”.

I made a better tool that swallows large texts and coughs up any words that show the slightest traces of regional influence, according to exhaustive Wikipedia information. Here’s the link: American English to British English Translator.

The website and accompanying code should be useful to:

  • people learning English as a foreign language
  • writers aiming to appeal to a Transatlantic audience
  • authors attempting to write in the voice of an American/British character
  • Brits who wish to know which American colloquialisms they have inadvertently picked up (and more rarely, vice-versa)