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Is normalise perhaps obsolete in British English, and normalize preferred instead?

I have done some Googling, it seems British English dictionaries prefer normalize, but I haven't found any satisfactory answers from native speakers. I would like to hear about usage and "how it sounds" (the formality), maybe if there are any reasons to use both forms in different situations.

(The question arose when reading something about vector normalization.)

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Remember too that OUP uses the z-forms for things like normalize (but not for things like catalyse). –  tchrist Mar 19 '13 at 13:46
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Also see “s” vs. “z” in BE vs. AE and the four questions linked to it –  jwpat7 Mar 19 '13 at 15:18
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See also Is “denormalized” a word? –  tchrist Mar 19 '13 at 18:05

3 Answers 3

up vote 5 down vote accepted

I am not a native speaker, but I am in IT and would spell it with a Z regardless of my normal spelling of anything-ise

Google NGram produces these graphs

British GB American US

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Ha! This proves that the use of 'normalise' has been at an all-time high since 2000 (amongst other things). –  Edwin Ashworth Mar 19 '13 at 14:57
    
@Edwin: It proves you need to be careful with normalised graphs when you have less data after 2000, perhaps why Google by default sets the end date as 2000. –  Hugo Mar 24 '13 at 8:12

In everyday writing, people normally use normalise.

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This answer appears to contradict the evidence provided in mplungjan's answer. Can you provide any sources? –  Steve Melnikoff Mar 19 '13 at 16:41
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Sources would be my experience in the everyday writings of people in the worlds of studying and work, as well as in personal, hand written documents. –  Tristan Mar 19 '13 at 16:51
    
Would you say that basing conclusions on your sample is to be preferred over basing them on that used by the Google Ngram viewer ('The Google Ngram Viewer is a phrase-usage graphing tool which charts the yearly count of selected n-grams (letter combinations), words, or phrases, as found in over 5.2 million books digitized by Google Inc (up to 2008)') (Wikipedia)? [Though I personally prefer 'normalise'.] –  Edwin Ashworth Mar 19 '13 at 20:36
    
I would not say that either is to be preferred. I wrote based on my experiences. As useful as Google Ngram may be, it is not the be all and end all of learning and is no substitute for experiences of the real world. –  Tristan Mar 19 '13 at 21:38
    
Your experiences are hardly likely to give as true a representation of the whole picture as the findings of national corpora studies. COCA for instance deliberately samples different genres (spoken word, fiction, popular magazines, newspapers, and academic - and even sub-genres (or domains), such as movie scripts, sports magazines, newspaper editorials, and scientific journals). The BNC is more UK-orientated. The preference for the -ize form, especially in the USA, is obvious from their results (though there are very few instances of either being used in fiction or sports magazines). –  Edwin Ashworth Mar 19 '13 at 23:31

In my experience (as a BrE speaker who works in IT, where I suppose the word does sometimes crop up), "normalise" definitely isn't obsolete. I use "normalise", and similarly I stick to "realise", "formalise" and so on. Many Brits use "ise" endings and many use "ize", not just for "normalis/ze" but for all the rest. Each person is likely to be consistent in their own usage. I can't imagine anyone using an "ise" ending for most such words but then switching to "ize" for "normalize" - that just seems inconsistent for no good reason.

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