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

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5
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3answers
161 views

Why is “poignant” pronounced /ˈpɔɪɲənt/?

I felt a little bit strange when I heard poignant pronounced as /ˈpɔɪɲənt/. It is also pronounced as /ˈpɔɪgnənt/, but the former seems to be more popular. A word stagnant has similar spelling, but ...
1
vote
1answer
28 views

Two step method or two steps method [duplicate]

It seems like a particular dance is called "Two-step". It gave me some doubts about how to spell step in the description of a method I use. If my method has two steps, should it be called a two step ...
0
votes
0answers
25 views

English spelling/pronunciation example [migrated]

I think most of us can agree, English pronunciation vs spelling (vs conjugation) is strange: Read (present tense) Read (past tense) Red (color) Reed (plant) contrast with Lead (direct, present ...
0
votes
1answer
35 views

How would you write B1 in dialogue?

Are there any rules regarding how to write model numbers or serial numbers in dialogue? For example, B1. "B one." "B1." Or "B-one."
7
votes
2answers
619 views

Why does “agree” only have one “g”?

According to Webster, "Agree" comes from Latin's ad + gratus. However there are other words such as "aggregate" and "aggression" that also come from ad + [something], and these words have a double "g" ...
5
votes
1answer
225 views

Relaxed Pronunciation

As a court reporter & supervisor for 34 years our rule of thumb in the transcription of evidence, many people relax their pronunciation whilst on the stand, such as "gotta, kinda" but we've always ...
3
votes
2answers
57 views

Why are *accept* and *except* commonly misspelled as each other? Are they homophones?

Why are accept and except commonly confused for each other when writing? This is unlike most cases, where misspellings come from homophones. In my idiolect at least, accept is /ək.'sɛpt/, and except ...
2
votes
1answer
37 views

how should makeup be written?

By "makeup", I mean cosmetics, as in lipstick, foundation, eyeliner, etc. My assumption is that it should be written as "makeup", but others have suggested "make up" or "make-up". In case there are ...
15
votes
5answers
3k views

Why does the letter ‘o’ appear in the word ‘people’?

My two daughters demanded to know this. I speculated that it was artificially inserted, perhaps in the 17th-18th century, perhaps to make the word look more like populus, somewhat similar to the way ...
0
votes
1answer
29 views

“high-reliable”, “highly reliable”, or something else?

There was a discussion with my colleagues about a paper that I am currently writing and in which I use phrases like "a high-reliable system architecture". Some of my colleagues hold the view that this ...
2
votes
3answers
446 views

When did “Pensylvania” become “Pennsylvania”?

On the Liberty Bell, it's spelled Pensylvania. Likewise on plenty of maps from the colonial days. When did it become Pennsylvania (with three n's)?
1
vote
1answer
83 views

Why is “threshold” pronounced “thresh-hold”?

Why is threshold pronounced "thresh-hold"?
0
votes
4answers
73 views

“woman” or “women” as a stand-in for the adjective “female”? [closed]

As in, Emily Dickinson was a great woman poet or Emily Dickinson was a great women poet in order to mean Emily Dickinson was a great female poet Think I may have seen this adjectival ...
16
votes
3answers
1k views

Wer, wie, was, wieso, weshalb, warum, all start with W in German. In English they don't, why?

Wer, wie, was, wieso, weshalb, warum. Wer nicht fragt bleibt dumm. This is the theme song to the German Sesame Street, IIRC It roughly translates to: Who, how, what, why, why ,why. If you ...
1
vote
1answer
35 views

siphon vs. syphon - any reason to prefer one over the other?

I've come across two spellings for this word. Siphon and syphon are apparently both correct. English is not my first language and this word is not used often in practice, especially in written form. I ...
2
votes
1answer
45 views

In a combination of two vowels (such as “ae”), what rule determines if the first (“a”) or second (“e”) is silent?

In a combination of two vowels (such as "ae"), what English rule determines if the first ("a") or second ("e") is silent? For example, in the word "praetor", the vowel "a" is silent but in the word ...
0
votes
1answer
85 views

Is this a portmanteau, contraction, or perhaps both?

I have chosen to edit this post because it apparently has offended some of the more sensitive among us. While, personally, I feel this should prompt discourse rather than down votes, I do not wish to ...
2
votes
2answers
64 views

When, and why, did breaks become brakes?

Reading an account of the Round Oak Train Crash, I came across this passage:- A good deal of suspicion, to say the least of it, must fall upon the hind guard, Frederick Cook, as to the mode in ...
-1
votes
0answers
69 views

Is it “board game”, “boardgame” or “board-game”

Which of the following words is correct?: Board game Boardgame Board-game
6
votes
1answer
396 views

Processor vs Processer

Is there any difference between "processor" and "processer"? Some spelling dictionaries only have the -or form, and some have both. Is it a US vs UK English thing? Or something else? More ...
1
vote
0answers
41 views

Should I preserve spelling when quoting American English in a British English text, or vice versa? [duplicate]

Suppose I am writing an (academic) text in British English, but have to quote a text from an author who writes in American English. Should I preserve the author's original spelling, or convert it to ...
0
votes
1answer
42 views

Best ways to write thoughts in narrative

I would normally put a thought in a narrative in quotation marks, but it becomes boring and stilted to continually write, thought Mary, or thought John. A thought normally would have a different ...
1
vote
2answers
50 views

Why are there two different ways to spell “expediter”?

There seems to be two different ways to spell "expediter": expediter expeditor A quick Google search reveals a nearly equal split between the two spellings. Are the two spellings specific to a ...
0
votes
0answers
12 views

Is it possible to use a hyphen in a listing (in a sentence) for abbreviation, even if the compound word consists of two separate words [duplicate]

I'm currently asking myself if it is possible to use "-" for abbreviation in a listing in a sentence to emphasize the togetherness of the previous words and the word in the end, even if they are two ...
0
votes
0answers
31 views

“e” before “i” in the word “weird” [duplicate]

In elementary school, I was taught the rhyme: "i" before "e" except after "c", and in words like "neighbor" and "weigh" Obviously this means that "ei" is used in "deceive" (it comes after "c") ...
0
votes
4answers
145 views

“Linder” or “linnder” for lunch/dinner

We have plans for a late lunch / early dinner planned for 4:00 pm in mid December. I would like to indicate that it's more than lunch and less than dinner. I have heard it called linder or ...
0
votes
3answers
77 views

Do you hand something over or off?

I am looking for the correct American English expression and spelling. My particular context is that I am responsible for something precious, which I give to somebody else, who is then responsible ...
-1
votes
1answer
57 views

Are sneer quotes the same exact thing as scare quotes? [closed]

Are sneer quotes the same exact thing as scare quotes? I believe they're synonymous but am unsure.
0
votes
1answer
32 views

Italics used for the plural treatment of words? [duplicate]

Do these look right to you? I'm pluralizing the following words. In doing so, I'm italicizing the word to be pluralized but not the 's': ands (instead of and's) wherefores (instead of wherefore's) ...
8
votes
1answer
119 views

Is “vapourise” considered incorrect, even in British English?

According to Wiktionary, the British spelling of "vaporize" is vaporise, not vapourise as one might expect from the word vapour (and similarly, the Canadian spelling is still vaporize, not vapourize). ...
0
votes
1answer
48 views

“Next one” vs “next”

What is the difference between the "next one" and just "next"? Let's suppose we have a lot of people in a queue, and as one person comes, someone says "the next one is white, tall, has black eyes, is ...
0
votes
0answers
32 views

Why “qu” is pronounced “qw” (as in quit, question) [duplicate]

Or to put it the other way, why qu is not spelled qw, as qwit, qwestion, for quit, question.
0
votes
0answers
20 views

How and why did “absorb” morph into “absorption” and not “absorbtion”? [duplicate]

Simply put, how and why did "absorb" morph into "absorption" and not "absorbtion"? Additionally, can you think of any other words which morphed in like manner?
1
vote
4answers
65 views

Terms for game mode depending on number of players

Suppose you have a game with following modes: a human player with no opponents a human player with a computer/AI opponent multiple human players The third mode is referred to as multiplayer. The ...
8
votes
3answers
1k views

Which is correct, “cill” or “sill”?

When I was an architectural technician, I used the spelling cill (e.g. window cill). I knew of one architect who used sill and stated that this was the older and more correct form. My Concise Oxford ...
2
votes
3answers
130 views

Is hierarchial a word?

I've found one reference that says hierarchial is an alternative form of hierarchical, but it's an unreferenced resource. Some wiseacre wrote a bug fix for my software saying hierarchical was the ...
-1
votes
2answers
138 views

Correct way to spell “young'un”?

As slang, this phrase: Since I was a young'un... Is there an accepted way to abbreviate the last word there?
1
vote
1answer
92 views

Why did the past tense ending -t change to -ed?

My posts are often questions for further knowledge about reasons for language change. In this extract from 1750, there are three variations on the past tense form. Once again, I am grateful if anyone ...
-2
votes
1answer
140 views

Choose the proper variant to complete the sentence:

... misses the kisses, ... kisses the misses. A) An rejected lover, a accepted lover B) An accepted lover, a rejected lover C) A rejected lover, an accepted lover
1
vote
1answer
116 views

Why `night` with gh?

I am not native speaker. And me very interesting why night writting with gh? Thanks
1
vote
2answers
67 views

Commas with quotes [duplicate]

I read the following sentence1: He rallied the Senate with the plea, “It’s time to change the Senate before this institution becomes obsolete.” I’m wondering whether a comma should be placed ...
-1
votes
1answer
117 views

Why is “success” spelled with double -S?

What is the function of the double s at the end of the word, success?
3
votes
1answer
92 views

What's the most preferred spelling of auto fill, auto-fill, and autofill?

When you are trying to say that something is automatically filled in, you use the word autofill, or if you were using past tense, autofilled. I see 3 main ways that people use it: auto fill / ...
4
votes
2answers
518 views

American English Pronunciation of “o” sound long or short?

I'm always confused about how to pronounce words with letter o in spelling. For example, in the word boss, I always pronounce the o as short o, when in fact it is long o. Collar is short, but I always ...
3
votes
3answers
618 views

Between '(s)he' & 'he/she' — which is recommended/ preferable?

When talking about or referring to someone who could either be a male or a female, I usually write it as (s)he but I have also seen usage like he/she, which also seems correct to me. I use (s)he ...
1
vote
3answers
99 views

Was “nowadays” ever spelled with hyphens?

etymonline doesn't note that nowadays ever had a spelling with hyphen but I found a few random sites claiming that it once was hyphenated. Was it ever spelled as "now-a-days"?
1
vote
1answer
38 views

Formatting and ellipses when quoting parts of a list

When quoting a list not in its entirety, but only the points 2–5 of 10, how do I set out the quote? Do I add "..." at the beginning and end of the quote as shown below? ... 2. At all ...
0
votes
1answer
77 views

Why is the beginning of a quote in old text sometimes denoted by a capital letter but no quotation marks?

In the following text of Pamela by Samuel Richardson, well is capitalised — possibly to denote speech, where inverted commas have been neglected. As GEdgar points out, this is not an isolated ...
3
votes
2answers
481 views

Why do we say and write “read” instead of “readed” for the past? [closed]

Why do we write read unchanged for present and past, while study changes; we have studied. The present form of read is read, pronounced as "reed". The past form of read is also read but it is ...
3
votes
4answers
143 views

What's with the apostrophe in the standard spelling of the idiom “how's about”?

A recent question on EL&U asks Is it correct to use "how's" as short for "how does"? I have a series of tangentially related questions about a fairly common (in American ...