Talk:American and British English spelling differences

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Former good article nominee American and British English spelling differences was a good articles nominee, but did not meet the good article criteria at the time. There are suggestions below for improving the article. Once these issues have been addressed, the article can be renominated. Editors may also seek a reassessment of the decision if they believe there was a mistake.
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Past tenses etc.[edit]

I restored a couple of paragraphs that were recently deleted with the claim that they had nothing to do with spelling. I can see the reasoning, but readers might come here to ask how does one spell the past tense of "spell"?. This is dealt with in the linked article Comparison of American and British English, so I suppose it is not essential that it is also included here, but I'd be inclined to leave it. What does anyone else think? Dbfirs 21:45, 2 August 2013 (UTC)

I agree with you on spelt / spelled. It seems to me that dove / dived is a closer call, but its inclusion is probably reasonable provided it not be used as an excuse to digress into topics even farther from spelling. --Trovatore (talk) 22:20, 2 August 2013 (UTC)
  • For the word "diagram"--what's the proper American vs. British spelling of the past & present tenses? (e.g. diagramed / diagrammed; diagraming / diagramming) Miriam-Webster says either is correct, MS-Word 2010 (US-English) likes both, WordPerfect X5 (US-English) likes "diagramed", Firefox 27.0.1 likes "diagrammed"... 1PBFOOT (talk) 05:40, 3 March 2014 (UTC)
British English tends to avoid the verbing of nouns, but this noun has been occasionally turned into a verb since Thomas Carlyle wrote "They are matters which refuse to be theoremed and diagramed." in 1841. Subsequent (but rare) British spellings seem to have doubled the consonant in accordance with usual spelling rules on this side of the pond, but I think either spelling would be accepted. Personally, I would never use the so-called verb in formal writing, only in jest. Dbfirs 08:11, 3 March 2014 (UTC)
Diagramming is not a general verbing; it's something you do to sentences (see sentence diagram). Do children not learn to diagram sentences in the UK? What do they do to them, then? --Trovatore (talk) 07:22, 4 April 2014 (UTC)
I recall being taught to parse sentences (dependency-style), but not to draw pictures of them. I think that, where the technique is taught in the UK, the diagrams are called sentence trees or parse trees. "Sentence diagramming" does appear on some websites that Google claims to be UK sites, but they are mainly written by Americans, or quote American publications. Dbfirs 11:28, 4 April 2014 (UTC)

American Slang[edit]

There are spelling listed as American variants that are not words. Non-words like 'thru' and 'donut' are commercial mispelling for copyright purposes, emphatically not correctly spelled American variants in their own right. This article is rife with original research about such words that, quite frankly, should be put into a very different article. Also, is it worth including differences in cases when two forms are acceptible in Britain and the same two forms are acceptible in the United States? Some of these are useful and interesting whereas as many others are just plain wrong. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 162.136.192.1 (talk) 15:15, 23 May 2014 (UTC)

Whoa there hero. Thru is not slang nor is it a non-word. Thru has been an accepted variant in the US for over 100 years. In both the Army and Sheriff's Academy, we were told to spell it thru … I'v written many papers as an undergrad and graduate with it.
  • From Handbook of Microwave Component Measurements, p141: The thru standard should most properly be called a “defined thru” standard, and represents a two-port standard for which all the S-parameters are known. There are two main forms of defined thru standards, sometimes called flush thru and defined thru. … If a non-zero-length thru is used during callibration, the effective measured load match will be phase-shifted by the actual delay of the thru, and this can cause substantial error.


As for donut, that began life in England. It's in Wright's Dict. of Obs. and Prov. English, 1880 as donnut: A dough pancake.

AnWulf ... Wes þu hal! (talk) 14:52, 19 August 2014 (UTC)

[[1]] It would help your argument if respected American Dictionaries agreed with you - in Websters at least online does not mention 'Thru' as a variant.Andrewgprout (talk) 19:08, 19 August 2014 (UTC)
Try again:
http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/thru
http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/thru
http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/us/definition/american_english/thru
2600:1006:B11F:9E14:B945:D20A:9451:85D (talk) 20:14, 19 August 2014 (UTC)
It is fairly common for dictionaries to include variant spellings that are "usually considered inferior". Thru is a short spelling that is accepted to some extent in informal discourse, or in special situations such as street signage, where it is more important to have big letters everyone can see than it is to use acrolectal spelling. But it is not a spelling accepted in formal writing. Donut, on the other hand, is a genuine variant spelling. --Trovatore (talk) 20:44, 19 August 2014 (UTC)
Yes thanks for your examples - but they don't really support anything other than an informal use of 'thru' even in the USA. The Webster link is simply a see reference, dictionary.com is in my opinion of questionable quality and Oxford clearly says 'informal'. Donut on the other hand as Trovatore says is a genuine variant - see how the dictionaries treat the two examples differently. Andrewgprout (talk) 22:14, 19 August 2014 (UTC)
I would add further that the microwave-measurement stuff looks like a slightly different situation — not informal or inferior, but rather specialized jargon. Through is not a noun, and actual delay of the through doesn't make sense in ordinary English (and probably not in the English of microwave engineers either; that's why they have the alternative spelling). There is no objection to microwave engineers inventing whatever jargon they like, but it shouldn't be presented as a general "American" spelling. --Trovatore (talk) 23:41, 19 August 2014 (UTC)
Variants are inferior? So which is inferior … Color or colour? Airplane or aeroplane? Aluminum or aluminium? Variant does not automatically mean inferior or of som imagin'd lower status. I think M-W is mostly thought of as an American dictionary and is well respected in the US. It would only be a guess on my part but I think in the US that M-W outsells the OED. It is the dictionary often found from students to corporate offices. M-W only tags it as a variant … not informal, slang, or in any way inferior. Since we are talking about American and British SPELLING differences, that should be enuff to show that it isn't slang or "not a word".
*Religious Liberty and Human Dignity, Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy, vol. 27, 1, pp81-92, 2003:
… to respect human rights, then failing to explicitly define thru common understanding.
Is the Harvard Journal of Law formal enuff for ya? There are lots more where that came from. Also, in the US you will find breakthru, click-thru, drive-thru, see-thru, thru-hike, thruout, thruway and likely a few more. As long as we're on the thred … altho, tho, thoro, and thorofare as well. All of these are found in the US and in publications (not slang) and should be on the list as well. AnWulf ... Wes þu hal! (talk) 10:25, 20 August 2014 (UTC)

Graphic comparing usage of metre/meter[edit]

There are two main usages of metre/meter which would have been captured in the source data.
1 - The unit of measurement of length (UK - metre, US - meter)
2 - a device used to measure (eg, a water meter) which is "meter" in both UK and US English.
I am guessing that the person who created American_and_British_English_spelling_popularity.png did not go through the 200 000 pages of source data to separate out these two usages (and there are other usages, such as poetic metre/meter). As such, the graphic is not a correct representation of the two spellings, and this should be removed from the graphic. — Preceding unsigned comment added by IamMaestro (talkcontribs) 08:28, 27 November 2013 (UTC)

Yes, I agree that its content is meaningless for this page unless the creator made the distinctions you mention. Deos anyone object to its removal? Dbfirs 18:45, 27 November 2013 (UTC)
That image is original research and should be removed. Taketa (talk) 18:26, 4 June 2014 (UTC)

American words ending in -ize with no corresponding term in British English[edit]

There has been, for some time, a statement about there being no British English word that corresponds to burglarize. Now it may not have been very well written, but it did, I think, serve a purpose. That statement was recently deleted. So, rather than revert, I re-wrote it, I think, in a slightly better way and more generic, and added a reference. Now that has been reverted.

I think it's perfectly reasonable to have this specific point raised in this specific section of this specific article, i.e. that there are -ize words in US usage that have no correspondence in UK usage, and therefore are not simply spelled -ise. If this article were simply there to inform Americans about British English spelling, or Britons about American spelling, then its value might be less. But assuming there's also an audience who are neither, and who may wish to write appropriately for a specific audience, I think its value is indisputable.

I would have also though that, given the point in the summary of the reversion about burgle being a made-up term, the point I made that burglarize is a regular formation and burgle is back-formed would be welcomed by American English users.

So can we not find some compromise wordings on which we can agree?

Graham.Fountain | Talk 12:48, 1 May 2014 (UTC)

I just don't think it's a spelling difference. If we're going to digress that far, then the article should be renamed. --Trovatore (talk) 19:29, 1 May 2014 (UTC)
Well, it's not strictly a spelling difference, that is true; rather, to the majority of British English speakers/writers, either spelling of burglarize or burglarise is anathema. However, it is in a subsection that specifically relates to exceptions to the –ize and –ise spelling differences. Now burglarize should never be transcribed by replacing the –ize with –ise (except in facetious use). So it is clearly an exception, and should be in there.
There's also a somewhat tortuous logical argument that 'exceptions' implies a subsection scope that is some sort of inversion of the scope of the section, and thus the scope of the article. Hence, this example, even though it is not a spelling difference, does not stop the article itself being about spelling differences. It's the section on punctuation that does that.
Graham.Fountain | Talk 13:48, 2 May 2014 (UTC)

Oops sorry, it was me who caused this by deleting it. I'm having a horribly busy week+weekend so please forgive me for not discussing it properly but, briefly: (1) I've no objection to this content as such: it is a real and documentable difference between the two types of English. (2) It is as noted NOT a spelling difference - it's a word usage difference. The back-formation thing is interesting and worth talking about but the words burgle/burglarize are somewhere along a spectrum with favor/favour at one end and bonnet/hood at the other. I'm not sure how I think we should resolve this but I agree that it would be a pity to lose, completely, this piece of information from the encyclopaedia as a whole. (3) I am very clear, though, that the particular location within the article from which I removed it was absolutely the wrong place for it to be. This at least was right, even if I didn't have the nous to figure out what else to do with it. I hope this helps a bit (and I'm sorry if it doesn't!) In haste, but with best wishes to all, DBaK (talk) 09:53, 3 May 2014 (UTC)

I promise I will try to come back to this interesting topic. Just rushed off feet and our front door now. 10:57, 3 May 2014 (UTC)
I still believe it should be in the #exceptions subsection of the -ize/-ise section, as it is a word spelled -ize in American but not spelled -ise in British English. Having looked elsewhere on the net, there seem to be plenty of people who are confused over this particular difference, and I think this is one of the places it should be mentioned, albeit not at any length.
Graham.Fountain | Talk 12:05, 3 May 2014 (UTC)
As the entry was, and should be, in the #Exceptions subsection to the section #Greek-derived spellings#-ise, -ize (-isation, -ization), I must ask what do you consider the words in this subsection to be, and more specifically, what they are exceptions to?
Graham.Fountain | Talk 12:20, 5 May 2014 (UTC)
My opinion is that specific #Exceptions subsection should contain words spelled/spelt with either -ize or -ise (or -isation or -ization) and which are exceptions to the pattern of spelling differences between American (US) and British (UK) English words described in, #Greek-derived spellings#-ise, -ize (-isation, -ization).
Generally: This is the situation for all the other words that are described in this exceptions subsection: they are all spelled/spelt in either -ize or -ise, and none of them are spelled -ize in the US and spelt -ise in the UK. Certainly in most cases, they are not, themselves, spelling differences between the US and UK, because they are spelled/spelt the same in both. However, it is neither that they are not spelling differences nor why they are not that matters, it is simply that they do not follow the pattern for words ending in the Greek-derived -ize (or -ise to some in the UK). Indeed, they could be spelling differences and still be exceptions, but only if they are spelled -ise in the US and -ize in the UK. I haven't looked if there are any such words, but their existence isn't relevant to this discussion anyway.
Specifically: It is certainly the case that when Briticizing American English you should not transcribe burglarize to burglarise, i.e. burglarise is not a British English word. So, on those few occasions where, burglarize is used in the UK, mostly in a facetious sense, i.e. to take the mickey, it should still be spelt burglarize. Hence, burglarize is clearly an exception to the normal pattern for words ending in the Greek-derived -ize, and the absolutely right place for such exceptions is in this specific #Exceptions subsection.
I agree that what was there was not perfect. I did try to improve on this, and I think I did better. I tried to make it clear that there is a class of words ending in -ize in US, but not ending in -ise in UK English, because the words are not used in British English. They are, as a class, therefore exceptions to the pattern given above this subsection and so should be discussed within it. It may be that burglarize is the only example of this class of words. However, I would not claim that without a reliable source. I did mention burgle; however, this is not intended as an exception in itself (it could not be, it is not spelt in either -ize or -ise), only as part of the explanation of why burglarize is an exception to the 'normal' pattern.
What I cannot understand, and therefore cannot possibly agree with until I do, is the assertion that because burglarized is "not a spelling difference", it should not be in that specific exceptions subsection or this page. Few, if any, of the other words in that section are spelling differences between US and UK English. Indeed, if burglarized were spelt burglarised in the UK, i.e. was a spelling difference, that would be the only valid reason for it not being in this #Exceptions subsection. Also, if words that are not spelling differences between US and UK English were explicitly excluded from this #Exclusions subsection (through some rule that I completely fail to see), at least most, and possibly all, of the examples that are currently discussed therein would also have to be removed from it.
Graham.Fountain | Talk 12:20, 5 May 2014 (UTC)

I'm sorry, I am still unable to devote serious time to discussing this but please note that I did not delete your revamped version. My strong objection earlier was to the word's precise placement in that bulleted list, which was clearly wrong at any price, and I thought your compromise solution was quite good. That is, in keeping the information but removing it from the bulleted section you answered most or all of my concerns. Accordingly, I will put your later version back in as a basis for discussion. Best wishes DBaK (talk) 12:39, 5 May 2014 (UTC)

Original research[edit]

comparison of the popularity of common differences between American and British English on Wikipedia as of March 2013. The article backup from March 4th was used. Analyzing 200,000 articles achieved significant stability in the results.

I came across this article and have my doubts with the image to the right, as the caption states it uses data from Wikipedia itself. It seems to me that this is original research, and not suitable for Wikipedia, the use of text on this website should not, as only information, be used to show the popularity of certain words. The description on commons: "Analyzing 200,000 articles achieved significant stability in the results." gives another indication of original research problems here. Mvg, Basvb (talk) 18:30, 4 June 2014 (UTC)

+1 Someone actually researched it themselves to make the image, no secundary sources were used. So this is original research and unfit for Wikipedia. - Sincerely, Taketa (talk) 18:32, 4 June 2014 (UTC)
As mentioned in a thread above, it probably also contains a misleading error regarding the spelling "meter". No-one has objected to its removal during the past six months. Dbfirs 12:03, 5 June 2014 (UTC)

" Some British dialects have mam,[111] and this is often used in Northern English, Hiberno-English"[edit]

This should probably say "British and Irish dialects" as Hiberno-English is not usually considered a British dialect. For instance the article for British dialects says "The Oxford English Dictionary applies the term to English as "spoken or written in the British Isles; esp[ecially] the forms of English usual in Great Britain", reserving "Hiberno-English" for the "English language as spoken and written in Ireland". If nobody has any problems with the edit Im going to change to make the distinction clearer. Ultan42 (talk) 19:00, 5 September 2014 (UTC)

Personally, I would have left it as it was, because the article to which you link specifically includes Northern Ireland dialects in the definition of British English. Are we intending to include English as spoken in the Irish Republic? Dbfirs 19:33, 5 September 2014 (UTC)