I once got penalized in the second grade for spelling British-style, and it still irks me a little (why no, I don’t hold grudges, why do you ask? :D). But maybe twenty percent of the books I read as a child were by British authors or otherwise had Britishisms in them – spelling, grammar, etc. I watched British comedies on PBS and British mystery dramas on A&E. Sometimes I would find something that confused me – draughts for checkers, pants for underwear, braces for suspenders, and so forth – but what I couldn’t figure out from context I asked my parents about.
Maybe the publishers just imagine that the parents don’t know the words. :rolleyes:
In all seriousness, I’ve worked with people who design textbooks for school-aged children. They are so, so phenomenally careful about meeting every single possible local ordinance so that the majority of people out there won’t find them offensive. I remember when I was working in the permissions department I had a phone call from a man who wanted to buy one copy of our book, make several copies of it, but take out or mark out with a marker sections of the book that he considered “objectionable”. I explained that this was not allowed; he wanted to know then if he could just make photocopies of the part of the book he really wanted to use, but not the illustrations.
The illustrations were your traditional Dick and Jane pictures. I have no freaking clue what the problem was with them. From his location, my boss posited that he might be working for a very Orthodox Jewish neighborhood, so he might have been asking for a religious school, but…
My favorite letter came from a woman we’d sent some sample books to as part of our home schooling program. She’d loved the English comp book and the math book, but… “And then I saw the science book, and I don’t think I need to tell you what I did with THAT. Yes sir, I threw it right out! We are a Christian household and I believe it is my choice what to teach my children.” Okay, lady.
It’s a foolish and unnecessary decision to change the wording and grammar in these books, for the most part, but I can understand the decision.
Oh – and the group/singular thing? In American English, a collection of items is singular – that is, the collective noun is treated as singular, unless it’s actually a plural like ‘teachers’ and ‘legions’. ‘Legion’ would be singular even though a legion is a group, ‘legions’ would be plural. Therefore:
A flock of pigeons messed on the pavement.
The Clash is going to be playing on Saturday.
The army is on the march.
The PTA is a PITA.