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American vs British spelling

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KurviTasch
Member
#1 · Posted: 7 Sep 2005 07:27 · Edited by: KurviTasch
This might sound strange. I'm sure all of you are familiar with the minor spelling differences between American and British English, such as center/centre civilization/civilisation, defense/defence and color/colour, etc. I'm a Californian, where we of course use the American spelling. But because I started reading (and absorbing) Tintin books when I was four or five, the British spelling style became much more familiar to me than the American spelling style. I spelled words with the British spelling instead of the American spelling until I was in high school. Are there any other Americans who, because of early familiarity with Tintin books, used or use British spelling?
I_love_Snowy
Member
#2 · Posted: 7 Sep 2005 08:24
lol, what about 'Australian English'???
jock123
Moderator
#3 · Posted: 7 Sep 2005 14:16
I_love_Snowy
what about 'Australian English'???

I’m not aware of there being any major differences in spelling between the U.K. and Australia, given that the two have a longer continuous relationship than between the U.S. and the U.K. Have you any examples?

Interesting point, KurviTasch, but are there really that many differences between us in writing, not allowing for things like “nite”, which although used in the U.S. is really rather uncommon. Changes are always happening, mind you, and language is a living, fluid sort of things, so there may be more than I think.

It becomes harder as well when you actually look at the boundaries of what is British and what is American in the language. For example the use of the “-ize” ending on words is often now regarded by British people as “American”, and they use “-ise” instead; however, the “-ise” is actually a British change, of fairly recent vintage, and the U.S. maintains what is, in fact, the older “correct” form - indeed, the OED still prefers the “-ize” in most cases, and it is what I was taught at school. Likewise the U.S. “gotten” is a word they have retained and the British have lost, rather than one invented in the States - it would have been known in Elizabethan times (for any of us British who don’t quite understand its usage, just remember that “gotten” is to “got” what “forgotten” is to “forgot”).

So anyway, can you throw in a few examples too?
KurviTasch
Member
#4 · Posted: 7 Sep 2005 18:08
Another difference that comes to mind is program/programme. Also whiskey/whisky. At one time, we spelled cigarette "cigaret," but this has changed.

it's interesting, but most typically "American" words are in fact older than their British equivalents. In th US, we use the word "Fall" to describe the upcoming season, while in the UK they use "Autumn." Fall is, in fact, the older term. American spelling is older as well, as jock123 points out. The "-er" suffix is, according to my old English teacher, a holdover from the older Anglo-Saxon form of English, while the "-re" suffix used in the UK today is a Norman influence. I would also suggest that the American "-er" usage is a German influence; in the eighteenth century, nearly one in two people in the colonies spoke German (or Dutch, in New York). "-Er" is a common suffix in Spanish verbs as well; remember that over half of the US today belonged to Spain or Mexico at one time or another.

The Tintin books use a lot of British vocabulary that is not used at all in the US. For example, in "Flight 714," a Sondonesian refers to the UFO as a "Fire Lorrie." I first read this volume when I was ten years old or so and had to ask around before I found out that a "Lorrie" is what we call a "Truck." In "Destination Moon," Snowy says "funny sort of lift" when he is being carried in Tintin's backpack while hiking. We call lifts elevators. One of the inportant plot factors of "The Land of Black Gold" is doctored petrol. We'd use the word "gasoline." On the whole, I prefer the British words for a European comic book.

I_love_Snowy, are there any differences between British and Australian spelling? I know that even in Canada the use the British spelling in general.

Also, are there differences between Belgian French and the French of France? From what I understand, Belgian Flemish and Dutch are practically the same language.
george
Member
#5 · Posted: 7 Sep 2005 18:14 · Edited by: george
Another difference that comes to mind is program/programme. Also whiskey/whisky. At one time, we spelled cigarette "cigaret," but this has changed.

For what its worth, Whiskey and Whisky are two different things, and we (should) use both in the UK.

Broadly speaking, the former is for Whiskeys from Ireland, the latter for those from Scotland.

I've a feeling they spell Labour as Labor in Australia.

One thing that drives me crazy about American spelling is the way insure is used instead of ensure. Ensure is a great word and should be use more often!

George
KurviTasch
Member
#6 · Posted: 7 Sep 2005 18:49 · Edited by: KurviTasch
There's a good discussion on the differences between whisky and whiskey in other threads. My advice is to try 'em all.

On this side of the pond, "ensure" is the brand name for a special drink for old people. On your side, you use the term "assurance" while we use "insurance." Neither word is that good, as far as I'm concerned.
wench
Member
#7 · Posted: 7 Sep 2005 19:19
Also, are there differences between Belgian French and the French of France? From what I understand, Belgian Flemish and Dutch are practically the same language.

i'm not sure how much the actual language changes with respect to spelling, but sometimes you find different words used for things. even in different areas of the same country you often get colloquiallisms, and accents can distort words too. in the UK you get it with "daps", "plimsolls" and "pumps" depending on what part of it you're from, and in france, how much you understand can depend entirely on whether you understand the accent, and the local dialect. like gaelic (of which there are several variations) and breton, which are in many ways similar, but at the same time completely different.
snafu
Member
#8 · Posted: 7 Sep 2005 19:31
I found out that a "Lorrie" is what we call a "Truck."

I thought that it is spelled "lorry", not "lorrie". Anyway, I use both types of spelling since I see it so often, especially when someone gives me a copy of The Economist LOL. I like American spelling in that it's shorter, though. It's still cool to recognise British spelling even if I am American :)
marsbar
Moderator
#9 · Posted: 8 Sep 2005 00:10
george wrote: I've a feeling they spell Labour as Labor in Australia.

Labour is normally spelt as 'labour' in Australia, except in the case of the name of the political party: the 'Labor' Party.
jock123
Moderator
#10 · Posted: 8 Sep 2005 08:50 · Edited by: jock123
wench
n the UK you get it with "daps", "plimsolls" and "pumps" depending on what part of it you're from
To which you can add “gymmies”, “sannies”, “san’sheen” and “gutties” (or “gu’ies”, depending on how plosive your stops are)…

The French/ Flemish/ Dutch transition is a good example of the “dialect continuum” - that language doesn’t stop at political borders, but slides from one place to the next, making small variations along the way; you can see the major differences at a distance, but as you home in, there are lots of similarities. English and American were kept apart for so long in the days before mass communication, that there was a natural barrier to the continuum, and the variation continued at a distance, with different influences, and the comparison now is fascinating.

I would also point out that American has it’s share of nelogisms, with British English keeping things - the U.S. used words like “flat” for “apartment” as late as the thirties - and there were oddities like the Americans and Scots talked of “tenements” for a block of flats/ apartment building (the Marx Brothers film The Big Store features the musical number Tenement Symphony, sung by Tony Martin), and the English tended not to.

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