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American English vs. British English

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  • American English vs. British English

    I found this on the net:

    There are different stories for different groups of words.

    The standardization of English spelling was a long, slow process, extending over centuries and full of hiccups and reversals.

    For the words like “center,” both the “center” and “centre” spellings were widely used in the Middle Ages. By the 16th century, however, the spelling “center” had largely won out in Britain. This is the spelling preferred by Shakespeare, Milton, and other writers of the 16th and 17th centuries, and it is the spelling preferred in most dictionaries of the period. Naturally, therefore, “center” was the spelling carried to the American colonies in the 17th century.

    In the US, therefore, nothing much has happened. The prevalent spelling “center” was endorsed by Noah Webster’s famous and influential American dictionary in 1828, and it has never since been threatened.

    In Britain, however, the French-style spelling “centre” made a comeback in the 18th century. This was preferred by several lexicographers, including the enormously influential Dr. Johnson in his 1755 dictionary, and, as a result, “centre” displaced “center” as the British spelling.

    Something similar happens with the “-ize” / “-ise” words, like “civilize” / “civilise.” In this case, though, the etymological spelling is that with “-ize” (which derives from the Greek suffix <-izein>), and the “-ize” spelling was universal in English until around the 18th century. But then British writers noticed that the French had changed the spelling of their cognate suffix from <-izer> to <-iser>. The British began aping the French, and writing “-ise” instead of “-ize.” This new spelling was endorsed by Dr. Johnson, and it has since become very widespread in Britain. But not universal: some conservative quarters in Britain still insist on “-ize.” An example is the august Oxford University Press, which still prefers “-ize.” If you look up the suffix in the second edition of the Oxford English Dictionary, you will find a firm little lecture on the foolishness of writing “-ise.”

    In the US, none of this ever happened, and Americans continue to use the traditional “-ize.”

    But the “color” words are different. Though the spelling had earlier fluctuated, “colour” was pretty much established as the usual spelling in Britain by the 14th century, though “color” continued to be used occasionally, under the influence of the Latin <color>, the ultimate (but not direct) source of the word.

    But in 1828 Noah Webster opted for “color.” He did this, apparently, partly because he preferred simpler spellings, and partly because he was eager to distinguish American English from British English. In fact, his dictionary contains a number of novel spellings for these reasons, but many of his proposals never caught on. However, Americans took a liking to his “color,” and have made it their invariable spelling.

    So, the chief reasons for the differences are the varying preferences of influential lexicographers, plus a substantial French influence on British English but not on American English.

  • #2
    Interesting. I love language.
    iComix :: web comics

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    • #3
      Though I'm Australian, because I spend most of my time on US forums, I've started spelling things in US English, to the extent that I have to force myself to revert back to UK spelling when I have to write reports and essays.
      Avatar Chat

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Erwin
        Though I'm Australian, because I spend most of my time on US forums, I've started spelling things in US English, to the extent that I have to force myself to revert back to UK spelling when I have to write reports and essays.
        Vice-versa here. I'm finding myself inadvertantly spelling words in UK words from time to time as well as using UK slang and other expressions (or so I've been told).

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        • #5
          Despite being British I tend to fluctuate randomly between British English and American English. Occasionally I need to use a specific one and I have to make an effort to stick to it - but generally I just write whatever comes out naturally

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          • #6
            I make an effort to spell things how Americans spell them when I am talking to yanks thru* ICQ or forums for example.

            However, to spell using American diction to a fellow English person aint something I do because it makes you look like you can't spell right and a bit silly
            Hungry ?

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            • #7
              I code in American but do everything else in English.
              John Percival

              Artificial intelligence usually beats real stupidity ;)

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              • #8
                Originally posted by John
                I code in American but do everything else in English.
                Hehe, {tableheadbgcolour} would confuse some people to no end
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                • #9
                  While on holiday one year i was told I speak very good American for someone from Scotland. I then replied with i speak english, and asked them what they spoke, they replied with American, silly Americans.
                  Scott MacVicar

                  My Blog | Twitter

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                  • #10
                    I want to learn to speak English with one of those cute perky accents.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by baragon0
                      I want to learn to speak English with one of those cute perky accents.
                      Don't believe everything you c on the tele
                      Email: chris@thegratwicks.com
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                      • #12
                        Often people from other countries make the mistake of calling the southern 'cockney' accent the British accent. We have completely different accents too you know I'm a West Yorkey myself [In Leeds] So I have a northern accent, well, not a strong one. Annoying British accents are:

                        Geordi (sp?)
                        Scouser [Ey Ey Calm down, you wa Liverpuuul]
                        Posh/snobby accents [Does my head in]
                        Cockney [Just shutup ]

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                        • #13
                          lol I studied for my degree in Leeds. I left 3 years later none the wiser as to what any Leeds born people were talking about

                          <- Southerner ( - not cockney)
                          Hungry ?

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                          • #14
                            What about the brummy accent

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by bahbah
                              lol I studied for my degree in Leeds. I left 3 years later none the wiser as to what any Leeds born people were talking about

                              <- Southerner ( - not cockney)
                              LOL what is it we say that you don't understand. Hmm you may be meaning scallies










                              Brummies? Ahhhhhh good point, they are annoying too. Anyone else want to contribute to the irritating British accent list?

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