S or Z? British and American spelling, what’s the difference?
Since I started blogging I have read a great deal of material written in English by writers from all over the world and have become facinated by the different variants and dialects that I have encountered. I love the English language because it is a mongrel language which happily absorbs and takes in words from other languages and cultures. This may be one of the reasons that UK English and US English have several areas where UK and US spelling are different. While American English has adapted the spelling to reflect the way that the words actually sound when they’re spoken, British English has tended to keep the spelling of words it has absorbed from other languages (e.g. French, Urdu,Arabic), Through the processes of colonisation,emigration and transportation, Uk English was exported around the globe,soaking up useful words and making them it’s own. Then in the early twentieth century, a group of influential Americans, among them Benjamin Franklyn, Noah Webster, Isaac Pitman and Mark Twain, (who was a founding member of the Simplified Spelling Board) decided to clean up the language and make it more user friendly.
The Simplified Spelling Board was an American organization created in 1906 to reform the spelling of the English language, making it simpler and easier to learn, and eliminating many of what were considered to be its inconsistencies. The board’s initial list of 300 words was published on April 1, 1906. Much of the list included words ending with -ed changed to end -t (“addressed”, “caressed”, “missed”, “possessed” and “wished”, becoming “addresst”, “carest”, “mist”, “possest” and “wisht”, respectively). Other changes included removal of silent letters (“catalogue” to “catalog”), changing -re endings to -er (“calibre” and “sabre” to “caliber” and “saber”), changing “ough” to “o” to represent the long vowel sound in the new words altho, tho and thoro, and changes to represent the “z” sound with that letter, where “s” had been used (“brasen” and “surprise” becoming “brazen” and “surprize“). Digraphs would also be eliminated, with the board promoting anemia, anesthesia, archeology, encyclopedia and orthopedic.
As I say, I love the English Language with all its weird irregulatities of spelling and pronounciation, but I can see that these must make it difficult to learn and use. I’m still grappling with it , and I’ve been learning it for a long time. The video below is a humourous example of the spelling/prounciation which can cause difficulties. Enjoy!
I take it you already know
Of tough and bough and cough and dough
Others may stumble, but not you,
On hiccough, thorough, tough and through;
Well done! And how you wish perhaps
To learn of less familiar traps?
Beware of heard, a dreadful word
That looks like beard and sounds like bird.
And dead; it’s said like bed, not bead
For goodness sake don’t call it “deed”.
Watch out for meat and great and threat
(They rhyme with suite and straight and debt)
A moth is not a moth in mother,
Nor both in bother, broth in brother.
And here is not a match for there
Nor dear and fear for bear and pear.
And then there’s dose and rose and lose
Just look them up and goose and choose,
And cork and work and word and sword,
And do and go and thwart and cart.
Come, come I’ve hardly made a start.
A dreadful language? Man alive
I mastered it when I was five.
Does it matter how we spell? I’d be interested to hear your opinion