Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Spelling/Archive 2

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Writing Style/Spelling

(I didn't know where else to put this, so, if this is not the proper place to discuss such a topic, please move it to a more appropriate venue)

I was looking through some random pages, and noticed something - there are quite a few pages out there that use British-English spellings of words (colour, programme, etc.), and then many others that use the American-English spellings (color, program, etc.). Inconsistency looks bad in an encyclopedia, no matter what form it comes in, so perhaps we should pick a format and make it a standard? — StellarFury

Both are welcome here, although each article should standardise (standardize?) on one. There is a page full of stuff on this somewhere - hang on... Mark Richards 22:45, 14 Jul 2004 (UTC)
Please don't end your words with "-ise". The correct spelling in American English is "-ize". Wikipedia should be based upon the American English content, because the servers are located here in the United States. If you want to have your country's spellings of words, you can house the servers. Mr. Grinch 22:07, 16 Jul 2004 (UTC)
I suppose all non-English content should be deleted too, Mr Grinch. — Chameleon My page/My talk 16:24, 17 Jul 2004 (UTC)
No, because someone who does not speak English could not read the articles. A British person can still read American English; Anyone who complains is just being whiny. By the way, how is this "Off-Topic" for the Main Page? Mr. Grinch 21:26, 19 Jul 2004 (UTC)
OED uses 'ize' as does the Cambridge University Press. The British are defying their own conventions. Jiang 22:16, 19 Jul 2004 (UTC)
Already answered, no worries. It's Wikipedia:Manual of style. — [[User:Meelar|Meelar (talk)]] 22:50, 14 Jul 2004 (UTC)
Since neither system is more correct than the other, but a lot of people are very fiercely attached to one or the other, I think the present compromise is a good one. Check out Talk:World War II to get an idea of how much people are willing to argue about it. — Harry R 22:52, 14 Jul 2004 (UTC)
I have another suggestion. Have an array list (users can contribute to this) that contains American and British spellings. Let the users select his preference as to which spelling he wants in the preferences. A tag or template on that page can be used to protect key pages (such as 'US Dept of Defense') or "Shakespere's works" from such a policy. (Maybe something like this can also be used for Celcius/Fahrenheit?) — ¶ nichalp 18:58, Jul 16, 2004 (UTC)
What about Kelvin and Rankine? 1pezguy 00:15, Jul 17, 2004 (UTC)
Kelvin and Rankine too. — ¶ nichalp 20:26, Jul 17, 2004 (UTC)
I believe the general standard is Brit spelling on Brit topics, Murrican spelling on Murrican topics and edit wars on shared topics, i.e. World War II — jengod 00:52, Jul 17, 2004 (UTC)
Not just spelling but whole words change. There are also more than two varieties of English. The is also the issue of the default: if Webster spellings are made default, this is unacceptable. — Chameleon My page/My talk 12:09, 17 Jul 2004 (UTC)
Also, some words can't be replaced on a simple one-for-one basis. Example: 'TV program' in US English would be British 'TV programme' but 'computer program' would be the same in both. Similarly, Brit English uses 'metre' for the unit of measurement and for poetry, but 'electricity meter' for the box recording your usage. And both draft and draught as well. I can't see what's so bad about a global encyclopedia reflecting the diversity of its users, myself. — Harry R 13:03, 17 Jul 2004 (UTC)
Yes, there are problems with implementation as you correctly stated. The examples that you have cited perhaps can be overcome by also checking the phrases (2 word or 3 word max). Wikipedians should be allowed to edit the list of phrases array to weed out such glitches. — ¶ nichalp 20:26, Jul 17, 2004 (UTC)
Try not to attempt to simplify that so much; for example, consider the phrase "[...] the program was written [...]": in an article about a computer program, that would stay as it is, but in one about a British television programme, it would have to be changed. Unless you're willing to make available a sufficiently aware NLP to fix this (which would probably win you, amongst other things, a Nobel &c.), stop being so silly. It's not going to happen technically, it's not going to do so socially, and it's certainly not going to happen politically; to attempt to cause the English Wikipedia to schism into en, en-us, en-au, en-nz, en-sa, en-in, en-ca, &c. is worthy of the highest ranked troll. — James F. (talk) 11:22, 19 Jul 2004 (UTC)
While I'm not into the idea of splitting the wikipedia into en, en-us, en-ca, etc., I must request that if it gets to that point the "standard" (British) English goes to "en-uk" rather than to "en". Mr. Grinch 17:14, 30 Jul 2004 (UTC)
Here in Canada, both spellings (for many of these disputes) are generally accepted, as Canada has long had to balance between British and US spellings. However, I do agree that for general-interest categories, it is best to stick to a convention. Maybe we should use the Canadian Press standard style? (Admittedly, this is a bit arrogant and CAN-centric) — RealGrouchy 16:57, 17 Jul 2004 (UTC)

Bots anyone?

I think that ther eshould be a standard of english for every article regardless of topic. It should be American English because it was started in America and the servers are hosted there too. Anyway, whatever the standard, it should be used.

Perhaps bots could automatically change words to the standard for example colour to color.

Don't be a dickhead. And eef ze servers were 'osted een France we would 'av to write like zees? Wikipedia should be in standard English, but since there are huge numbers of Americans here, it'll always have to be a mixture of standard and American English. That's not going to change. Sorry, "gonna". — Chameleon My page/My talk 10:59, 19 Jul 2004 (UTC)
There's no such thing as "standard" English. Each system is just as correct as the other. Mr. Grinch 17:14, 30 Jul 2004 (UTC)
Or alternatively, it should be in American English, but the Brits get all pissy when you try to step on their illogical spelling system. — [[User:Meelar|Meelar (talk)]] 13:12, 19 Jul 2004 (UTC)
All English spelling systems are illogical. *shrug*. Who cares? We cope. Using both systems of spelling reflects both the diversity of contributors and the nature of wikidom. As someone who loves language and cares deeply about how it is used, I'm baffled by the energy expended over inconsequential trivia (British vs. American spelling, the Oxford comma, singular 'they') rather than the things which really matter - like clarity, precision, concision, wit, and the avoidance of Latinate circumlocution. — Harry R 14:27, 19 Jul 2004 (UTC)
I still don't understand why there's a problem with the current system. It's a global encyclopedia which reflects the diversity of global usage. That seems reasonable enough to me. Personally I couldn't actually spell if I had to use American English, which would be a pain in the arse, but generally - it ain't broke. Don't fix it. — Harry R 10:02, 19 Jul 2004 (UTC)

Erm... No thanks. — Exploding Boy 15:11, Jul 19, 2004 (UTC)

British spellings are a waste of time. Why can't those silly people learn to spell right? Think of all the time wasted typing the extra 'u' when the word would mean the same without it. The American system is obviously suprerior. Comments? Jiang 22:10, 19 Jul 2004 (UTC)

I don't think we should adopt any suprerior spelling systems. — Nunh-huh 22:14, 19 Jul 2004 (UTC)
I think we should adopt a logical system based on patterns of binary digits, just like computers. Ianb 22:26, 19 Jul 2004 (UTC)'s obviously up to which country can ass-kick or assimilate the other. Face the inevitable! Jiang

Speaking as an "American" (more precisely, a U.S. citizen), I strongly suspect that most people who argue for American English spelling believe there is a single standard which can be deterministically followed by conscientious editors and/or bots. This is a myth. We've all been taught "standard" English rules in school, but you'll find that, if you compare notes between regions, such rules don't necessarily jibe. What's more, when you get out into the real world, professional writers have their own disagreements about exactly how to compose text, including spellings and punctuation. Anyone who has actually read the oft-referenced Chicago Manual of Style will recall seeing many passages that mention general practices, guidelines, and preferences which are frequently not followed by respected publishers. Many times the CMoS takes the trouble to point out that its publisher, the University of Chicago Press, recommends a practice that is in variance with others. If our professional editors aren't even agreement with what is "American English", how can we Americans impose anything on the rest of the world, regardless of rationale? Rodney King's plea ("Can't we all just get along?") remains the wisest course in the face of such conflict. — Jeff Q 22:21, 19 Jul 2004 (UTC)
P.S. I wish all the poeple complaining about speelling would expend as much effffort with they're own spelling befour they complain about otherz. ☺ — Jeff Q 22:27, 19 Jul 2004 (UTC)
I agree 100%. Check your own spelling before you complain about others. If we add any bots anytime soon, please add a spellchecking system to the editor. Mr. Grinch 17:14, 30 Jul 2004 (UTC)
Irony --zippedmartin 19:36, 8 Aug 2004 (UTC)
Re Jiang's comment on the superiority of American spelling - actually most of the planet thinks that calling American spelling 'American English' is simply a way of covering up the fact that Americans can't spell (or in the case of Bush, can't speak. His latest garbled attempt at communication is being played on radio and tv stations worldwide for the last thirty-six hours and people are laughing their heads off at it. Jeez, and this amadan (Irish for fool) is US president)!!! :p Seriously though, American English, is a non starter as a standard for wikipedia. This is an international encyclopaedia, not an American one. If someone Americans wants to go off and launch their own encyclopaedia with their own standard of english, that's fine. But as internationally many people baulk at American spelling (which they see as a form of linguistic imperialism), just as they baulk at the American mm/dd/yy dating standard. A decision by wikipedia to adopt American English would be sending the message that wikipedia is the world's American encyclopaedia. The current solution, that each side tolerate each other's spellings works adequately (even if people in Ireland have to restrain themselves from turning every annoying ize to ise and get a migraine when they see paycheck for pay cheque or fetus for foetus! :-) FearÉIREANN 19:26, 7 Aug 2004 (UTC)

Removed section

Marshman added this to the section on uniformity of spelling within an article. I removed it because talk is a better place for it →Raul654 17:20, Jul 21, 2004 (UTC)

Note: This idea is naive and impractical. It comes from the concept of Wikipedia as an encyclopedia like any other that is published and produced as a book. Wikipedia is a hypertext document subject to constant change; the concept of an "article" as a fixed feature written by one person and read from top to bottom by a user is, in fact, incompatible with the general purposes and best features of Wikipedia. Consequently, either Wikipedia rules support multiple English spellings or they do not. It is impossible to avoid "jarring" a reader except by making it a rule that only one form of English is acceptable. Oddly, this rule assumes writers are above being jarred, as it requires, for example, British contributers to use only American spellings in any article first started by an American and vice versa.)
I might agree with you if there is anyone paying attention to this discussion page. However, the "Rules" are not fixed for all to follow blindly, but are merely suggestions. Therefore, it seems that the best way to better define a "Rule" is to modify it where it is presented. Of course, if I thought it was a stupid rule, I could just replace it or erase it. I did not do that because all points of view need to be presented. I do not see this rule "changing", but thought needs to be given to its application,. I provided that thought. - Marshman 17:29, 21 Jul 2004 (UTC)


I recently executed a vendetta against the word "connexion". Although it occurred primarily in EB 1911 articles, there are a few users actually actively using this obsolete spelling, and not in reference to the church organization. To quote American_and_British_English_differences#..._-xion_.2F_-ction:

The spellings connexion, inflexion, deflexion, reflexion are now somewhat rare, perhaps understandably as their stems are connect, inflect, deflect, and reflect and there are many such words in English that result in a -tion ending. The more common American connection, inflection, deflection, reflection have almost become the standard internationally.

Shall we add a bit of policy to make these four words officially spelled in the American way? Deco 07:35, 6 Nov 2004 (UTC)

I'm not sure that's needed. Maurreen 07:48, 6 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Whilst 'connexion' is perhaps indeed relatively seldom used – but is, mind you, perfectly permissible according to dictionaries and it has not quite disappeared – the other three words, inflexion, deflexion and reflexion, are all very common, particularly in linguistics, maths and chemistry (and probably the other sciences). To name just one recent series, 'inflexion' and 'reflexion' are both spelt thus in Further Pure Mathematics (Gaulter, B., Gaulter, M., Oxford University Press, 2001, ISBN 0199147353) and in Introducing Pure Mathematics (Smedley, R., Wiseman, G., same, ISBN 0199148031); admittedly, connection is with -ct-. The -x- spellings are most certainly not obsolete and there is no reason to make up some rule against their use. —Sinuhe 08:10, 6 Nov 2004 (UTC)
My fourpenn'orth:
  1. On a technical point, I'm not sure I agree with Deco that the spellings ending in -xion are obsolete (yet), though they may well become obsolete in the next few decades. Sinuhe's examples back up the non-obsolescence of the spelling (though I wouldn't use -xion myself except for the words 'crucifixion' and 'transfixion', where I would have though the -xion ending is far from obsolete).
  2. The spellings ending in -ction are not 'American', they are acceptable throughout the world.
  3. Having a policy saying 'we require the American spelling' is just going to annoy every non-American Wikipedian. We really should avoid preferring things because they are 'American'. (Though as I note above, there would be no need to call these spellings 'American' anyway.)
  4. I think American_and_British_English_differences#..._-xion_.2F_-ction needs changing in this regard (which I'll go and do now).
  5. I agree with Maurreen. I'm not sure we need a policy about this. jguk 08:17, 6 Nov 2004 (UTC)
I really, really disagree with removing valid spellings of words because people have a personal dislike for them. "Connexion" is fine, and not at all obselete. The "vendetta" edits should all be reverted, and talk of a policy is decidedly the wrong way to go about things.
James F. (talk) 12:44, 6 Nov 2004 (UTC)
I'm sorry, I really believed this was an archaic spelling that was no longer in use, based on what I'd read and personal experience. I have nothing personal against the spelling, but just thought its rarity might damage reader comprehension. If it is an acceptable alternate spelling I apologise for my changes and the suggestion — but I would suggest that at least the edits to the EB 1911 articles be kept. Deco 17:27, 6 Nov 2004 (UTC)
One should think carefully before using the terms British spelling and American spelling. Dictionaries encourage their misuse. A British dictionary will list esthetic as an American spelling, quite rightly, as it is a spelling used very rarely in Britain and more commonly in the United States. But within the United States aesthetic is far more common. An American dictionary is likely to mark waggon as British use. It is a spelling sometimes used in Britain and more rarely in the U.S. But wagon is more common in both countries. Unfortunately a statement in a dictionary that something is an American spelling or a British spelling tends to be misunderstood to mean that it is the most common American spelling or the most common British spelling. For example, Advertize and advertizement are supposed American forms. But they are not the common American forms See advertizement or advertisement at [1]. Pam Peters here seems to think the forms hardly exist. However see [2] where H. L. Mencken in 1921 gleefully speaks of British usage:

... and yet I find surprized, advertizement and to advertize in the prospectus of English, a magazine founded to further "the romantic and patriotic study of English," and advertize and advertizing are in the first number.

That article is an excellent one, and could be updated for use today with different example words in many cases, but exactly the same words in others.
Different publishers and groups and organizations/organisations have different style guides, often mandating exactly what spellings are allowed. For example, see the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations style guide at [3] which insists on connection rather than connexion and so with other -xion words. Probably Deco's understanding came from some such source. It does appear that the -xion spellings are much deprecated and not "in style" today according to many, so therefore probably quite rightly described as "not the standard internationally. However, see [4]:

To which I can add that "connection" offers a similar problem: Chambers 21st Century Dictionary [4] lists "connection" first and then immediately adds "or connexion". Yet many leading British newspapers consistently use the "x" spelling.

See also [5]. A recommendation in style guides that one spelling should be used over another is actually good evidence that the other spelling is in use, otherwise there would no need for a recommendation on that point. And most style guides insist on one spelling per word, the silly things! :-( I do not see anywhere the in this guide a recommendaton to use "international" spellings. If there were, than we could start by eliminating British -ise spelling (along with reflexion and so forth) since international scholarly usage and international organization usage almost universally supports the -ize forms. In style sheet after style sheet one finds the spellings of the Concise Oxford English Dictionary mandated, with particular mention that -ize forms preferred by that dictionary must be used rather than the alternative -ise forms.
Jallan 21:34, 6 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Jallan - no, international usage does not "universally" shun the "ise" forms. They are commonly used by the European Union for one thing (apart from the fact that the more official UK usage is "ise" and this has a large bearing on international usage). Note the introduction to the EU at [6] – referring to "organisation" etc. at Wikipedia's European Union entry for example is correct *international* usage (not merely British, but specifically non-US). zoney talk 01:33, 8 Nov 2004 (UTC)
The usage of Commonwealth English spellings isn't "specifically non-US" if that implies that only the U.S. uses -ize, etc. "American English is also used by countries and organisations, such as Japan, Liberia, and the Organization of American States, whose use of English is most influenced by the United States." (from American and British English differences) Therefore, while Wikipedia's European Union article properly calls it an organisation, Wikipedia's Organization of American States article properly calls it an organization. Returning briefly to this section's nominal subject, I never use the -xion spellings but I see no need to extirpate them. JamesMLane 00:26, 10 Nov 2004 (UTC)
I referred to "international scholarly usage and international organization usage", not to all international usage. I admit I overstated even in that, as certainly the EU is at least an organization or organisation and is international. From one of their guides at European Commission Translation Service English Style Guide (with my own bolding):

Words in -ise/-ize. Use -ise. Both spellings are correct in British English, but the -ise form is much more common. It is the convention in most British book publishing, and in British newspapers. The Times converted overnight in the mid-1980s, at about the time two new broadsheets were founded (The Independent and The European), which have used -ise from the beginning. Using the -ise spelling as a general rule does away with the need to list the most common cases where it must be used anyway. (There are up to 40 exceptions to the -ize convention: the lists vary in length, most not claiming to be exhaustive.)

That this rule is here explained at length is probably in part because it does run counter to what had been common practice. The United Nations has always used OED British English English and still does. See their English website at [7]. So do many corporate standards organizations like ECMA [8] (though they are sometimes inconsistant). And, I reproduce here some references I placed on the Village Pump which indicate that -ize spellings are still often mandated in academic circles: [9], [10], [11], [12], [13], [14], [15], [16], [17], [18]. I located these by searching on "-ize -ise" in Google. I only recall once seeing the oposite for international of scholarly use. I believe it was a style sheet from Australia or New Zealand which mandated use of the Concise Oxford Dictionary but also mandated use of -ise spellings. But I am sure there are others who have done similarly. As a counter-example, the Olympics organisation uses the -ise forms [19] (though a search shows that some z forms have crept into their text). But that is based in Britain.

Oddly, despite the -ise forms being "more official" (at least as being in common use by the British government and also more popular within Britain) the current editions of the New Oxford Dictionary of English, The Chambers Dictionary, Collins English Dictionary, and New Penguin English Dictionary all give priority to the -ize forms, sometimes leaving out the ise forms altogether on derived forms. These were the only British dictionaries I could quickly locate. Burchfield's Fowler's Modern English Usage says under -ize, -ise in verbs:

The matter remains delicately balanced but unresolved. The primary rule is that all words of the type authorize/authorise, civilize/civilise, legalize/legalise may legitimately be spelt with either -ize or -ise throughout the English-speaking world except in America, where -ize is compulsory.

But in Canada -ize is far more common while in Australia and New Zealand the -ise forms are the norm. Burchfield himself uses -ize, as did Fowler before him.

Under connection, Burchfield indicates that the Oxford University Press gave up their long-standing preference for connexion at some time between 1964 when connexion was the preferred spelling in the 5th edition of the Concise Oxford Dictionary and 1976 when connection became the preferred form in the 6th edition. At that point academics would have largely dropped its use ... as it is by the convention of always using the preferred spellings of the Concise Oxford Dictionary, right or wrong, that much vain argument on how things should be spelt have long be avoided.

But as connexion is still in use in British English, there is no particular reason to go out of our way to ban it here, however deprecated it may in many style sheets. But I do not see that it would be altogether wrong to change the spelling when updating a 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica. I suppose that the practice in 1911 was to follow the preferred spellings of the Oxford English Dictionary. Since the following Britannica editions including the most recent have mostly followed the spellings of the Concise Oxford editions of their day, it is reasonable to argue that one can leigtimately update spellings from the 1911 articles to the current Concise Oxford spellings.

Jallan 01:58, 10 Nov 2004 (UTC)
For what it's worth (and it probably isn't much), I grew up reading British authors like J. R. R. Tolkien and Agatha Christie (I had unusual tastes) so I am quite used to British spellings. Spellings with -re, -our, and -ise do not startle me in the slightest (in fact, I tend not to notice the difference). Connexion, however, still catches me off guard. For that reason, I would be inclined to change connexion to connection, on the basis that the latter form does seem to be well understood by everyone and the former will probably cause many to scratch their heads. Our goal ought to be clear communication. (I don't know that a rule is necessary, however.) -[[User:Aranel|Aranel ("Sarah")]] 04:22, 10 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Well, as to Tolkien, from The Lord of the Rings:

Since Meriadoc and Peregrin became the heads of their great families, and at the same time kept up their connexions with Rohan and Gondor, the libraries at Bucklebury and Tuckborough contained much that did not appear in the Red Book.

'Still, there may be no connexion between this rider and the Gaffer's stranger,' said Pippin.

There is a connexion with Bilbo's old adventures, and the Riders are looking, or perhaps one ought to say searching, for him or for me.

And so forth. I feel somewhat as Aranel does, that connexion is an odd spelling, that stands out, yet I don't believe I have ever really noticed it in Tolkien especially. Quite possibly for every time it strikes me as odd there are fifty times I just don't notice it. Reading is funny that way. A search on Google, set for English only, gives 22,900,000 hits for connection and 1,890,000 for connexion. That gives connexion a good 8% in usage. But a very large portion of the use is to Boeing Connexion and other brand names, connexion being the kind of cute spelling that fits this kind of thing. One can try to filter out the brand names. A search on "Harry Potter connexion" gets 3,390 hits while "Hary Potter connection" gets 435,000 hits. That's only 0.78% of usage. I tried some comparison with other names and connexion comes out at approximately 0.9% in total, nothing as low as 0.7% and nothing as high as 2.0%. But a look at the hit pages does show genuine usage. Can anyone in Britain support the claim that it is much used by newspapers?
Jallan 21:22, 10 Nov 2004 (UTC)
A Google news search tells its own story; of the 127 matches, very, very few, all of them likely to be the work of non-native English speakers, use the spelling. Susvolans 12:43, 12 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Even just a normal search, with restriction to English and in page text is very telling. Result: 1,480,000 pages, but Google only throws up 805 with the filtering of (" entries very similar to the 805 already displayed"). In browsing the first 100 entries and taking random samples of the rest, I found not one example of connexion used in ordinary text (i.e. not a company name or such). The actual usage of connexion in proper English must indeed be miniscule/non-existent, at least on the net. zoney talk 13:18, 12 Nov 2004 (UTC)
"Connexion" is a cute, old-fashioned variant of "connection". I rather like it, though I wouldn't use it. Note that any Google searches for the terms are likely to accidentally pick up quite a few instances of the French connexion. As for British newspapers, the Guardian Style Guide says "connection, not connexion". Chameleon 10:41, 12 Nov 2004 (UTC)
"Connexion" is ugly and outdated - it should not be used. I can honestly say that I'd not accept it in coursework submission. Next people will insist on using doth, gaole, quene, heddes and other things from here. violet/riga (t) 10:54, 12 Nov 2004 (UTC)
I'm inclined to agree; I use "connexion" in my written English, but I wouldn't do so on Wikipedia, because it's unknown to some and an archæism to others, whereas "connection" will be recognised by all. Similarly, I use "gaol", but would put "jail" in Wikipedia, unless there was a compelling reason not to. Many British English readers would find "gaol" jarring, let alone "connexion". I would suggest policy on -ct-/-x- should be to favor the -ct- forms (unless there's a compelling reason not to, such as with the scientific examples supra). (Yes, I'm a Brit; yes, I spell -ou-/-o- words without the "u"; deal with it ;o) — OwenBlacker 12:13, Nov 12, 2004 (UTC)
What?? You're conservative enough to use old-fashioned stuff like "gaol" and "connexion", but you use the totally non-standard "favor"? Chameleon 12:21, 12 Nov 2004 (UTC)
What can I say, I have quirky (written) English. :o) — OwenBlacker 12:28, Nov 12, 2004 (UTC)

I still can't see a need for a policy on this. Wikipedia accepts different writing styles. We don't have a style guide in the same way as a newspaper has (and even if that would be desirable from a consistency point of view, we shouldn't do it as if we did, we'd just drive away lots of readers and editors). Me: I'll go for connection, gaol and favour every time:) .jguk 20:59, 12 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Same here. Leave it alone. Exploding Boy 21:03, Nov 12, 2004 (UTC)