This tag is for questions concerning the written representation of the English language, especially spelling and word breaks (including hyphenation).

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4
votes
4answers
137 views

Why does English omit diacritics on foreign names?

Why does English omit diacritics from foreign names that still use the Latin alphabet? For example, why are the Czech tennis player Tomáš Berdych, the Norwegian crime writer Jo Nesbø, or the Polish ...
0
votes
1answer
41 views

Is “fatah” an alternative spelling of “fatwa”?

I've occasionally seen "fatah" being used instead of "fatwa" to mean Islamic religious ruling. For example, from Fear and Loathing of Sharks in Western Australia by Paul Watson (in an article which ...
3
votes
1answer
38 views

When do words like “Rewirable” keep the 'e' from “Rewire”?

I was spelling "rewirable" earlier and could've sworn it should be spelled 'rewireable' but google said otherwise. Whats the deal here? I never paid a lot of attention in my english classes ...
-5
votes
0answers
37 views

Why is the word “Villain” not spelled as “Villin”? [on hold]

This one makes no sense to me. On the face of it, "Villain" could be literally taken to be pronounced as "Vill" + "ain"; to be said as "Vill-ain" instead of its more literal expected form of ...
1
vote
0answers
51 views

Why are surnames often misspellings of English words? [duplicate]

Why do English surnames so often seem to be derived from slight misspellings of common English words? Weekes Thorne Browne Lilley Keene Paige Lowe Hooke Hawthorne Sargent Whyte Chappell Horne ad ...
1
vote
1answer
24 views

Capital letter for competition names? [on hold]

I was writing recently, and wanted to reference a competition managed by the Economist Intelligence Unit. It's called the "Global Liveability Rating". First of all, should I capitalize the name of ...
1
vote
0answers
50 views

What's the correct spelling of the made-up word meaning “to treat like an oracle”? [on hold]

I'd like to know which alternative sounds better to native speakers: "oraclize" or "oracolize"? The point is to have a made-up word composed by "oracle" and the "-ize suffix". Thanks in advance
1
vote
1answer
31 views

What's the difference between unapproachable and inapproachable? [closed]

Could anyone explain why does it have two versions, because as far as I know, there are some rules of formation of antonyms. Isn't there should be only one proper prefix? Or both are possible? Thank ...
-2
votes
2answers
83 views

She kicked me in the “sac” or “sack”? Reference is to the testicles

How do we spell "sac" / "sack" when referring to the testicles? Is it: She kicked me in the "sack" or "sac"?
0
votes
1answer
36 views

What is the proper way to write about a “layoff”? [closed]

When talking about "layoffs", what is the proper way to write it? When referring to it as a noun, is it "lay off", "layoff", or "lay-off"? What about when using it as a verb in both present and past ...
0
votes
1answer
51 views

Hance/Hence connection?

In researching the verb 'hence' I noted the several forms listed in the OED, two of which were: "hennes or henes" from Middle English usage. Similarly with the verb 'hance' I noted that scholars have ...
2
votes
1answer
41 views

Should I use the “correct” form or the form used in the specification

I'm writing about a web framework. Integral part of it is its lifecycle. Apparently (as for example my browser tells me), this is not the correct spelling. I should either use life cycle or ...
0
votes
0answers
96 views

“Is there an English word with four consecutive repeated letters?” [migrated]

example: one repeated letter - bitter two consecutive repeated letters - bassoon three consecutive repeated letters - bookkeeper I've tried to think of one or find one but failed.
2
votes
1answer
117 views

The meaning of the word 'Han'?

In referencing Webster's dictionary of 1828 I came across the entry for the word 'Han'. The definition was stated as: "for have, in the plural." Source: Spenser. What does this mean and how was it ...
0
votes
2answers
81 views

How do you write the expression of disgust that sounds like “er”?

My daughter said to me this morning (the context is irrelevant): Er, it's all wet! The interjection I have written here as Er was synonymous with Yuck. Its wetness did not cause great happiness. ...
17
votes
2answers
239 views

Space before apostrophe

In the 1928 Scribner’s (NY) edition of The Plays of J. M. Barrie, I’ve noticed an odd convention: where a contraction happens in middle of a word (e.g., “don’t” for “do n(o)t”), the apostrophe has the ...
10
votes
1answer
183 views

Relic as a verb: why the spelling relicing, reliced?

I just discovered the verb relic, meaning “to make something look worn” and used as far as I can tell only about guitars. (Examples: 1 2 3 …) I was surprised to see that its participles are pretty ...
22
votes
3answers
2k views

Why did the letter “o” disappear in the word “pronunciation”?

The verb pronounce has the letter o in its second syllable, but in the noun pronunciation, that same letter disappears from the corresponding position. Why is that?
2
votes
2answers
58 views

Hyphenation of “left hand side”

I would like to know exactly where (or whether) "the right hand side", "the left hand wall", etc. should be hyphenated.
5
votes
1answer
176 views

What is to be made of “e” ending so many Middle English words?

I was recently reading about the life of Robert I (the Bruce) of Scotland. On his deathbed, since he had been unable to go on crusade to the Holy Land as he had once pledged to do, he directed that ...
1
vote
3answers
79 views

LOL: Spelling double l or single l for 'lolled, lolling' vs 'loled, loling' [closed]

The word 'lol' (lower case) is now sometimes used in the English language. Should we spell its past tense as 'lolled' or 'loled'? And should it be 'lolling' or 'loling'?
5
votes
2answers
116 views

Why “pastime” but not “passtime”?

pastime n. An activity that occupies one's spare time pleasantly: Sailing is her favorite pastime. [TFD] Etymonline says that it is from pass + time: late 15c., passe tyme "recreation, ...
37
votes
2answers
3k views

Where does “ö” fall in alphabetical ordering?

Much to my surprise, I just learned that some English-language documents use the ö character. I need to know, when sorting words in an English-language document, where is ö placed? before A? ...
8
votes
3answers
275 views

Why does the word “coffee” have two “e’s”?

We know what coffee is and where the word comes from. Coffee was originally borrowed from: The word "coffee" entered English language in 1582 via Dutch koffie,[4] borrowed from Turkish kahve, in ...
2
votes
3answers
471 views

What does the word 'Joll' mean in 18th century English?

What does joll mean in the following sentence? ... give him the upper or right hand, and walk not just even with him cheek be joll, but a little behind him, yet not so distant as that it shall be ...
2
votes
1answer
161 views

Why do people pronounce “f***ing” like “f***en”? [duplicate]

I'm not a native English speaker so I might not be exactly accurate with this, but whenever people (e.g. in films) say fucking, it sounds something like fucken. There's no "g" at the end and instead ...
1
vote
4answers
71 views

In the context of a grocery store's signage, which is correct - “Everyday” or “Every Day”?

Here is an illustrated example: A grocer may print information pertaining to a low price deal, on the above pictured sign, and attach it to a shelf for customers to see.
5
votes
4answers
1k views

Silent letters in English [closed]

With the help of dictionaries, I’ve assembled a list of letters that can be silent in English: For most letters, I found more than one example, what are the other examples of a silent z ...
3
votes
1answer
157 views

Why the word “Circle” doesn't start with “s”?

Today my daughter (goes to kindergarten) asked me this question which made me post here? I felt that was a good question. Can anyone help me with an answer?
1
vote
1answer
59 views

“Stockmarkets” vs. “stock markets”

I am having trouble with the difference between stockmarkets and stock markets — or should it be stock-markets? In some articles it is introduced as stockmarkets, but that term is not found in ...
0
votes
4answers
138 views

What non-alphabetic characters are valid in English spelling?

Is ' (the apostrophe) the only character which is not part of the English alphabet that can appear in the correct spelling of an English word?
0
votes
1answer
275 views

how do I write “about four or five hundred US Dollars”

I proofread/edit transcribed witness evidence, and often witnesses will say something like "around four or five thousand dollars". If the evidence is all about figures, I would sometimes write this ...
0
votes
0answers
17 views

'parameterized' or 'parametrized' [duplicate]

In the following sentence: To avoid the attacks, most frameworks and DB systems provide mechanism for parameterized queries. My browser wants to correct the highlighted word to parametrized, but ...
-2
votes
1answer
50 views

Can a hyphen or dash always mean “to”?

Is it sufficient to say shot-shot where the hyphen would stand for to? Would a dash work, as in London–Brighton? I have a sentence like this: ... is the mean change in the mean energy of the ...
-1
votes
1answer
49 views

Spelling - why not finanse?

If it is license rather than licence, defense rather than defence, offense rather than offence, then why not finanse?
20
votes
1answer
3k views

Why isn't “Enterprise” spelt “Enterprize” in US English? [closed]

I live in Australia, but am expected to use US English in my work. I am therefore used to spelling "-ise" as "-ize". I was a little surprised to find that "enterprise" is almost universally spelt with ...
5
votes
1answer
542 views

Why was Tokyo sometimes called “Tokio”?

The city Tokyo was sometimes called Tokio, as can be seen in ngrams, and as one example, the WWII anti-Japanese movie Tokio Jokio. Why was Tokyo sometimes called "Tokiyo"? The Japanese hiragana for ...
1
vote
2answers
112 views

Do any people distinguish between “analog” and “analogue”?

In my personal usage, the words "analog" and "analogue" are allocated to two different meanings of the word. One refers specifically to non-digital signals, for example: The analog clock reads ...
0
votes
1answer
71 views

Is it improper to use the Right Quote character, if there's no Left Quote character paired with it? [closed]

Laying out a printed catalog (for distribution in the United States), I'm listing the dimensions (using inches) for numerous products. I like Proxima Nova's Right Quote character more than the ...
0
votes
2answers
90 views

Compelled and compeled - American English

As for the British English it's always taught - compel, compelled, compelling Some of the books/dictionaries say that in American English you say compel, compeled, compeling instead, you simply don't ...
0
votes
1answer
74 views

Vocal chords or cords? [closed]

Which one is correct, and don't tell me vocal folds. When you talk about someone singing, are they using their vocal cords or their vocal chords? I found this which thankfully shed some light on the ...
0
votes
2answers
44 views

“Web design” vs. “webdesign”

Suppose I want to use the word in a company's name, for example: ABC Web Design ABC Webdesign Which one is correct? Should it be one word or two?
2
votes
3answers
94 views

How do you spell 'hoo-wee!'

My dad used the expression 'hoo-wee!' a lot when I was a kid. (That is what it sounds like.) For example, if we were using the grill and it flared up he would say "hoo-wee!", and I love saying it but ...
0
votes
0answers
14 views

What is the correct capitalisation of the following [duplicate]

Company name — "Mushroom Joinery" Tag line — "Creation and restoration in wood" Should capitals be used in the tag line? If so, where?
1
vote
1answer
50 views

Proper way to include a single character in a sentence, “V,” 'V,' or italic? [on hold]

What is the proper way to include a single character within a sentence, double quotation marks, single quotation marks, or italicize it? For example, should it be: The man's face resembled a "V." ...
0
votes
1answer
115 views

Is it makeup or make-up or make up?

If you take a makeup test, is it correct to call it a makeup, make up, or make-up test? I know that makeup is also what some people put on their faces to look different. I think that make-up is what ...
1
vote
1answer
74 views

Why is the spelling of rhythm so exceptional?

Rhythm has a very unusual spelling, breaking a lot of the common rules of thumb for spelling words. The rh is unusual; the use of y as a vowel in the middle of the word is unusual; and the lack of a ...
14
votes
0answers
743 views

Graphotactics of possessive: the true reason for the apostrophe

I have some hypotheses for English graphotactics: 〈w〉 and 〈y〉 are optional positional variants (i.e. allographs) of 〈u〉 and 〈i〉, respectively, in digraphs that correspond with diphthongs or vowels: ...
0
votes
2answers
91 views

The “preying” mantis female is said to devour its “mail” during copulation. Considering these mistakes unintentional, what would we call them?

Is there such thing as "a written malapropism" or "a slip of the pen"? Or are they just simple spelling mistakes? If they were unintentional, they couldn't be considered puns or a play with words, I ...
1
vote
1answer
64 views

Can the Oxford Comma be used with a list of adjectives of the same type?

I was wondering if a list of classifying adjectives of the same type could use the Oxford Comma. For example: social, political, and economic problems is it a correct expression? I was checking a ...