User:Angr/Unified English Spelling
|This essay contains the advice or opinions of one or more Wikipedia contributors. Essays are not Wikipedia policies or guidelines. Some essays represent widespread norms; others only represent minority viewpoints.|
In this increasingly globalized world, I say the time has come to abolish all American and British English spelling differences and create a unified spelling for English that will be valid in all English-speaking countries. Where American and British (or more generally, Commonwealth) spelling deviates, but the pronunciation is the same (abstracting away from phonologically predictable differences in accent), one or the other form should be preferred. Which form is preferred should be decided on by a number of different criteria, some of which may conflict with others. The criteria, roughly in order of importance, are:
- Length. In general, the form with fewer letters should be preferred.
- Etymology. In general, the form that better matches the form used in the source language of the word should be preferred.
- Reduction of semantically related homophones with different spellings.
- Reflection of pronunciation.
- Conformity with other European languages.
|British/Commonwealth spelling||American spelling||Unified English Spelling||Reason for preferring the UES|
|behaviour, colour, flavour, harbour, honour, neighbour, etc.||behavior, color, flavor, harbor, honor, neighbor, etc.||behavior, color, flavor, harbor, honor, neighbor, etc.||Fewer letters; in Latinate words also nearer the etymological source. Helps prevent misspelling words like humorous and vigorous, which never have -our-.|
|centre, fibre, sabre, spectre, theatre, etc.||center, fiber, saber, specter, theater, etc.||centre, fibre, sabre, spectre, theatre, etc.||Nearer the etymological source in most cases (centrum, fibra, sabre, spectrum and θέατρον have no vowel between the r and the consonant preceding it)|
|-ise/-isation; also analyse, catalyse, hydrolyse, paralyse||-ize/-ization; also analyze, catalyze, hydrolyze, paralyze||-ize/-ization; also analyze, catalyze, hydrolyze, paralyze||Nearer the etymological source in the case of -ize; no further from it in the case of -yze. Also spelling the verb analyze allows a distinction to be made between analyses (the plural of the noun analysis) and analyzes (the 3rd person singular of the verb analyze). Exception: recognise since this etymologically does not have the -ize suffix.|
|analogue, catalogue, dialogue, demagogue, pedagogue, monologue, homologue, etc.||analog, catalog, dialog, demagog, pedagog, monolog, homolog, etc.||analog, catalog, dialog, demagog, pedagog, monolog, homolog, etc.||Fewer letters, nearer the etymological source. And no different spellings for different meanings (e.g. non-technical analogue, dialogue vs. technical analog, dialog)!|
|anaemia, anaesthesia, caesium, diarrhoea, encyclopaedia, foetus, gynaecology, homoeopathy, haemophilia, leukaemia, manoeuvre, mediaeval, oesophagus, oestrogen, orthopaedic, paediatric, etc.||anemia, anesthesia, cesium, diarrhea, encyclopedia, fetus, gynecology, homeopathy, hemophilia, leukemia, maneuver, medieval, esophagus, estrogen, orthopedic, pediatric, etc.||anaemia, anaesthesia, caesium, diarrhoea, encyclopaedia, fetus, gynaecology, homoeopathy, haemophilia, leukaemia, manoeuvre, mediaeval, oesophagus, oestrogen, orthopaedic, paediatric, etc.||Closer to the etymological source; for learned words like these that trumps word length (note fetus, however, for which foetus is just a flowery misspelling of the Latin)|
|counsellor, equalling, initialled, marvellous, modelling, quarrelled, traveller, woollen||counselor, equaling, initialed, marvelous, modeling, quarreled, traveler, woolen||counselor, equaling, initialed, marvelous, modeling, quarreled, traveler, woolen||Fewer letters|
|enrol(ment), fulfil(ment), instal(ment), skilful||enroll(ment), fulfill(ment), install(ment), skillful||enroll(ment), fulfill(ment), install(ment), but skillful||Exceptions to the preference for fewer letters: skillful is derived from skill, which is never spelled *skil; the verbs have to have a double L in inflected forms like enrolled/enrolling, fulfilled/fulfilling, installed/installing anyway, so keeping the double L in the bare stem increases consistency. The nouns in -ment then follow suit.|
|axe, calliper, carburettor, camomile, cheque, draught, jewellery, liquorice, mould, moult, moustache, plough, programme, storey, sulphur, yoghurt||ax, caliper, carburetor, chamomile, check, draft, jewelry, licorice, mold, molt, mustache, plow, program, story, sulfur, yogurt||ax, caliper, carburetor, camomile, check, draft, jewelry, licorice, mold, molt, mustache, plow, program, story, sulfur, yogurt||Fewer letters|
|sceptic||skeptic||skeptic||Better reflects the pronunciation|
|grey||gray||grey||For consistency with greyhound, thus spelled even in American English, and despite the fact that greyhound might not be etymologically grey + hound at all. Folk etymologies are also etymologies.|
|aluminium||aluminum||aluminium||Conformity with IUPAC and most other European languages, despite having more letters|
|licence (n.)/license (v.) and practice (n.)/practise (v.)||license (n. & v.) and practice (n. & v.)||licence (n. & v.) and practise (n. & v.)||These homophonous noun/verb pairs should be spelled the same. The -ce form is etymologically preferable in licence, while in practise the -se form is. Drawback: licensure can't conveniently be spelled any other way.|
|defence, offence, pretence||defense, offense, pretense||defense, offense, pretense||The -se forms are etymologically preferable and reduce the likelihood of misspelling derivatives like defensive, offensive, and pretension.|
|connexion, inflexion, deflexion, reflexion||connection, inflection, deflection, reflection||connexion, inflexion, deflexion, reflexion||Fewer letters, etymologically preferable|
|artefact||artifact||artefact||Etymologically preferable; conforms with other European languages|
|disc||disk||disk||OED calls disk "the earlier and better spelling"; definitely preferable for the verb since disked and disking better reflect the pronunciation than disced and discing.|
|programme (but computer program)||program||program||Fewer letters; no artificial spelling distinction based on meaning|
|cosy||cozy||???||Etymology of this word is uncertain anyway; another coin toss? Or just go with s since it's a less unusual letter than z?|
|mollusc||mollusk||mollusc||Etymologically preferable; conformity with adjective molluscan|
|pyjamas||pajamas||pyjamas||Etymologically preferable (was formerly pronounced [paɪ-] and comes from an Urdu word with the [aɪ] diphthong)|
|vice (tool)||vise||vice||Better reflects the pronunciation|
Note: I don't and won't follow these suggestions in my Wikipedia writing, because this mishmash is not standard spelling anywhere. Nor do I seriously expect it ever to become standard spelling across the world. This is just my fantasy about how things oughta be, and would be if I were in charge. Keep that in mind if I ever become the benevolent dictator of the planet.
P.S. While I'm at it, I want to add ðat I þink English should restore ðe letters þ and ð, which got kicked out of ðe English alphabet for no better reason ðan ðat ðey weren't used in French. Th would be kept for words of Greek origin, analogously to ðe way ph is currently used in words of Greek origin while f is used in most words of oðer origins (notable exceptions being gopher and nephew).