Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Some lesser known spelling differences between British English and American English

It is a well known fact that key differences exist between British English (or, as I like to call it, Bringlish) and American English (Ameringlish). Anyone who has a little understanding of the linguistic divide that separates the two nations will recognise/recognize common variants in word-spelling, such as 'colour' (as opposed to 'color') or 'theatre' (as opposed to 'theater').

However, as an Englishman who has lived in the United States for over two years, I have become increasingly aware of a cluster of lesser known differences in not only spelling, but also pronunciation. The following is a partial list of spelling variants, with the British spelling being followed by the American spelling.


'Aluminium' vs. 'Aluminum'
'Tonne' vs. 'Ton'
'Through' vs. 'Thru' (Note: U.S. spelling does incorporate 'Through' also)
'Moustache' vs. 'Mustache'
'Speciality' vs. 'Specialty'
'Acclimatise' vs. 'Acclimate'
'Sledge' vs 'Sled'
'Pyjamas' vs 'Pajamas'
'Bogeyman' vs 'Boogeyman'

Of course, this list is only a titbit/tidbit of all of the vast differences that are abundant between the two types of English, but all are differences that I, an English Language graduate, was utterly unaware of prior to moving to Indiana.

I must say, it certainly takes time getting used to some variants, but then, conversely, I imagine my American readers must feel as if they are treading through a mine field of poor spelling every time they read words like 'summarise' or 'oesophagus'.

Just remember, we are simply two nations divided by a common language. Whether you use British English or American English, speak it well and write it accurately - for language is power.

6 comments:

Anthony said...

Of course, not to mention the replacement of "s" in certain words with "z" such as "publicize".

And then there's the whole question of the different lexicon - "elevator" instead of "lift", "faucet" instead of "tap" etc. etc.

Laurence Brown said...

Absolutely, Anthony. I may need to devote an entire post to those ones.

themightyfrog said...

Specialty does exist in England. But only in matters pertaining to Medical Specialty.

Apparently

Laurence Brown said...

@ the mightyfrog. Indeed, one or two of the words in this list do crop up in both forms of English, but are more prominent in one over the other.

vp said...

In both countries, "tonne" refers to the metric ton, and "ton" to the non-metric (US or imperial) ton. This is a difference of measurements, not of spelling.

vp said...

"Thru" is used informally, but it's not the standard spelling in the US. . Anything formal or official uses "through".

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