This week, my imagination takes me to…no, not that! I’m addressing American vs. English spellings and pronunciations. The writer of the blockbuster Fifty Shades of Grey is English and therefore, grey is spelled with an “e” rather than the American version, which is spelled with an “a.” Both spellings are in an American dictionary so it’s not like you’ll be called out about it. I thought about this because my sister e-mailed asking which was the correct spelling.
This blog is not about a right or wrong way. It’s a compilation of words that point out how the same language, English, used by different countries, is not exactly the same. In all examples, the American usage comes first.
-or and –our: honor/honour and favorite/favourite. We dropped the “u” in most cases.
-er and -re: caliber/calibre and theater/theatre. Interesting to note that most of these examples came from French, Latin, and Greek word endings. And yes, we do have people in the United States who are in “theatre.” Whether it’s affectation or not is another blog.
Also interesting is that the English did change some of the -re endings in months like November and December and words like chapter and tender. Why? I haven’t a clue. Does anyone out there know why?
But, American English also kept some traditional spellings in the words acre, massacre, mediocre to show that the “c” is pronounced /k/ rather than /s/.
-ice and -ise: advice/advise and device/devise. In America, we use the spelling of “advise” and “devise” when used as a verb. Advice is a word I often see misspelled when I’m proofing papers and mss.
Another exception is that the English, while using defence and offence, change the “c” to “s” in the words defensive and offensive. Hmm.
-ize and –ise: organize/organise and realize/realise although I read that the English now use both spellings.
Hope you enjoyed this short piece about the wonderful variants of the language we share with our friends across the pond.