British and American spelling
Vivian Cook   American versus British Words
Spelling Test


answers below

Differences between British and American styles of spelling:

- are small in number.
- have little to do with dialect differences in pronunciation.
- are not consistently followed in either the UK or the USA.
- mostly affect selected words.
- are to do with <-our> versus <-or>, <-re> versus <-er>, consonant doubling,
versus <-se>, <-ise> versus <-ize>, <ae>/<oe/ versus <e>/<o>.
- can mostly be traced to spelling reform by Noah Webster or the National Education Association.


Which country does this come from? Answer at end

  Quotations on regional spellings of English

'… the differences between American and, say British English spelling are quite modest' (Cummings, 1988, 26)

'Although American customs in spelling have never differed widely from British, such differences as have existed have nevertheless been treated as though they were matters of some moment, as though the Americans had really done something startling to spelling' (Krapp, 1960, 328)

'All that can be safely asserted of the contemporary conventions of standard Canadian English spelling, when there is a British/American choice, is that the norm is not yet to choose either indifferently for the same word in the same text' (Pratt, 1993, 59)

The Australian Government Style Manual 'arbitrates on many of the currently variable points of English spelling, generally adhering to what is often thought of as British rather than American practice' (Peters & Delbridge, 1989, 129)

'You'll find a cat today must be a hepster. Don't mind if you don't find the word in Webster. He's as square as a bear' (lyric to 'Are You Livin’, Old Man?', Evans, Higginbotham, Silver, 1945)

 British -our

American -or

Exception

colour, favourite

color, favorite

Am: glamour

British -oul

American -ol

mould, smoulder

mold, smolder

Am: shoulder

British -re

American -er

centre, theatre

center, theatre

Am: acre, ogre

British -l

American -ll

distil, fulfil

distill, fulfill

 

British -ll

American -l

jeweller, woollen

jeweler, woolen

 

British -ise

American -ize

analyse, apologise

analyze, apologize

Brit: capsize, seize

British -ce

 American -se

defence, offence

defense, offense

Brit: advice/ advise etc

British -ogue

American -og

catalogue,dialogue

catalog, dialog

 

British ae

American e

faeces, anaemia

feces, anemia

 

Differences between odd words

British style

American style

pyjamas

pajamas

tyre/tire

tire

cheque/check

check

curb/kerb

curb

story/storey

 story

moustache

mustache

aluminium

aluminum

z 'zed'

z 'zee'

carat

karat

licence/license

license

nameable

namable

jail/goal

jail

sceptic

skeptic

axe

ax

plough

 plow

toffee

taffy

whisky (Scotch)/ whiskey (Irish)

whiskey

draught

draft

disc/disk

disk

enquire

inquire

sulphur

 sulfur

grey

 gray

metre/meter

 meter

Answers to task 1

The 'University Theatres' sign comes from Madison, Wisconsin, USA, showing apparently the trend to revert to British-style 're' in 'centre' and 'theatre'

Short article: Can they spell your name in Karachi?