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Is it correct to use 'z' or 's' in the word "seriali z ed" when writing correct English? (I.e. not a variant of English like "American") Or should it be spelled like "seriali s ed" ?

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There is no one correct "English". There are major dialects, like British English and American English. Each has their differences. – simchona Aug 17 '11 at 8:37

To use an s in specialised is usually the British English spelling. On the other hand, using a z is the American English spelling. You can choose which one to use depending on what your audience is. If you are in Europe, it may make more sense to use the British English spelling.

However, there is no such thing as one single, correct English. There are many, many dialects of English, and even what is known as Standard English varies between countries. If an American sees specialised, they will understand it, just as most British people would understand specialized. Both are versions of Standard English.

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In fact, some southern US dialects are closer to original British English from colonial times than British English is today. See Tangier Island, Virginia for an example. British English has undergone many changes over the years compared to their old colonies, especially from being a world imperial power, where the colonies wouldn't be communicating much amongst themselves but would be exporting the local dialects and slang to the motherland. Also, the Received Pronunciation did a lot to change common British English. – Phoenix Aug 17 '11 at 8:48
Very good point, @Phoenix. Are you saying that there is a universal "real English", or just emphasizing that all the dialects are different but mutually intelligible? – simchona Aug 17 '11 at 8:51
There is only original English and everything that has grown out of it, and no one speaks the original anymore. Least not outside of academics specializing in it. – Phoenix Aug 17 '11 at 9:03
@Phoenix: what do you mean by "original"? – Alenanno Aug 17 '11 at 9:06
Well, I could go with Old English post unification when the various dialects were somewhat codified, but I would probably say Middle English from after the Norman Conquest, as then all the elements are in place. – Phoenix Aug 17 '11 at 9:17

As simchona says, there is no single correct English. Every major variety has its own pecularities, and on this particular question at least one major variety -- standard British English -- is itself divided.

In words containing the suffix derived from Greek -izo, the spelling -ize is required in American and Canadian English and not uncommon in British English: the British National Corpus runs 3:2 in favor of -ise, and the Oxford University Press uses -ize. The spelling -ise is much more strongly favored in Australia and New Zealand, but -ize is not unknown.

For further information see this Wikipedia article, this one, and this note by the late Larry Trask.

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+1 For research on within-British English differences. – simchona Aug 17 '11 at 9:08

I don't know but Americans have a special attachment towards z, they frequently change spelling of words with s to z! Don't ask me why!!!

Both are Standard English as @sinchona said..

But this is a matter of your locale, it would depend on where you are residing. British use 's' in specialised while Americans use 'z' instead..

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This is a bit of an oversimplification: -ize is a traditional British spelling and still quite common in British usage, albeit less so than formerly. – Brian M. Scott Aug 17 '11 at 8:59
The 'z' is the original, as Brian Scott pointed out it comes from a Greek suffix -izo. American English tends towards original spellings in words and constructs derived from foreign languages. No idea why the Brits don't. I think it started with hating the French enough to start changing words with Gallic origins. – Phoenix Aug 17 '11 at 9:09
u both seems to be from North America...that's explains the unrest. But hey, I believe English was spoken by English first rather than Americans... – Vineet Menon Aug 17 '11 at 9:36
Just because the other two comments may or may not be from North America, it doesn't mean that they don't understand how British English works. They both make good points; your answer does simplify the issue. Also, just because someone spoke a language first doesn't make it uniform. – simchona Aug 17 '11 at 9:58

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