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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2answers
577 views

What is the origin of the different pronunciations of C and G before different vowels?

In English the letters C and G usually have different pronunciation before a/o/u and before e/i. The same is true for Romance languages - French, Spanish, Catalan, Italian etc. What is the origin of ...
6
votes
1answer
3k views

Variations in the pronunciation of “ea”

Perhaps this is more of a Linguistics question, so I apologize if this is not posted in the right place. Why is it that these words in English sound so different? earth   = /ɜrθ/     “urth” hearth ...
5
votes
4answers
1k views

Why is “oh” spelled “oh” and not “o”?

Oh my! In the above example, to me, "oh" seems to suggest one should pronounce "o" as a short vowel, whereas "o", seems to suggest one should pronounce "o" as a long vowel. In other words, I ...
19
votes
3answers
2k views

Where did the “ue” in “tongue” come from?

How I remember being told over and over how to spell tongue! I didn't understand it then; I don't understand it now. What evolution might put a silent "ue" at the end of a word?
14
votes
2answers
4k views

“Oestrogen” and “oesophagus” — why are they spelled differently in British English?

Within Biology, there are some biological terms that differ in spelling between the British English and American English dictionaries. For example, oestrogen and oesophagus, as well as the word ...
7
votes
3answers
4k views

Why is “busy” pronounced “bizzy”?

Of all the ways I could come up with to pronounce the word "busy", "bizzy" would be very low on my list. At least "bussy" or "boosy". Why "bizzy"?
0
votes
3answers
449 views

Why are “some” letters silent in English? [closed]

There are many such words that we all know about, but please explain why the makers of the English language made up words with silent letters?
12
votes
7answers
10k views

How do I spell the truncation 'Cas', as in 'Sports Casual/Sports Cas'?

How do I spell the truncation 'Cas', as in 'Sports Casual/Sports Cas'? It may be UK only, and may have been spawned by Alan Partridge. Cash/Cas are not right. *As in a slang term, "he was acting all ...
1
vote
4answers
162 views

Present, present, and present?

Please present your next idea. Did you buy her a present? No vacancies at present. Do all the bold words have the same spelling, yet all of them have different meanings based on the ...
5
votes
6answers
43k views

“Zoe” or “Zoë”: which is the correct spelling?

I have a relation who has named their child Zoe, on the grounds that “in English we don’t use the dots”, but they pronounce it like the second version. Of course I don’t want to argue that’s not the ...
8
votes
2answers
876 views

Why is “eye” pronounced so strangely?

This is either a spelling or a pronunciation anomaly; I'm not sure which. Why is "eye" pronounced as the letter "I"?
4
votes
2answers
400 views

Why drop the “i” in “explanation”?

I often catch myself trying to write ?explaination, phonetically spelling the word in my head. To my chagrin I get part way through and have to stop myself. So I’m wondering why is the i dropped? I ...
3
votes
4answers
20k views

Why is “hyperbole” pronounced so differently from its spelling?

I've often heard people say "hyperbole" exactly as it is written, "hi-per-bole", instead of how it is actually pronounced: "hi-pear-bow-lee". How did it get such an unusually different pronunciation ...
13
votes
3answers
13k views

Why is the spelling of “pronounce” and “pronunciation” different?

Why is the spelling of pronounce and pronunciation different? If one originally did not know the spelling of pronunciation, one would when hearing it verbally deduce its spelling to be pronounciation, ...
48
votes
4answers
7k views

Why are there so few English words that begin with the letter X?

If one reads a lot of children's books, it is obvious that X is a real thorn in the side for those authors looking to have each letter of the alphabet represented in their books. Most of them either ...
10
votes
2answers
4k views

Why is “gauge” spelled with a 'u'?

I was rather old before I realized "gauge" is pronounced (and sometimes spelt) "gage". The etymology doesn't reveal too much: mid-15c., from Anglo-Fr. gauge (mid-14c.), from O.N.Fr. gauger, from ...
13
votes
3answers
904 views

What was going on with “quha”, “quhat” and the like in Scots and English?

From the Dictionar o the Scots Leid: Quha, Quhay, interrog. and rel. pron. Also: qwha, qha, qua, qwa, wha, vha, hua; qhaa; quhaw; quhai qwhay, whay, quay; quhae, whae; quhe, quhey, qwhey. ...
5
votes
2answers
2k views

Why are the words “lose” and “choose” written differently and pronounced the same way?

I do know that there isn't only one pronunciation for syllables, and I also know that there isn't only one way to write a phoneme, but this intrigues me a lot. Lose is spelled with only one O, and ...
12
votes
4answers
2k views

Why is there no consistency in the plural forms of words ending on an “f” (e.g. safe, roof, dwarf, etc.)?

The plural form of leaf is leaves, although according to Merriam-Webster leafs is also correct. Dwarf can be pluralized as either dwarfs or dwarves. Conversely, the words roof and safe are pluralized ...
2
votes
2answers
748 views

Why there is an “h” in proper names like Afghanistan, Baghdad and Lamborghini?

An "h" may be used to prevent the "g" from being soft, as in spaghetti, but there is no need for an "h" in the mentioned proper names.
7
votes
3answers
802 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 ...
24
votes
7answers
14k views

Why is “primer” pronounced with a short “i” sound?

This word—used to mean an elementary textbook, not a painting material—annoys me to no end. Does anyone know why, exactly, "primer" is pronounced with a short "i" sound? I don't know why, call it ...
8
votes
3answers
328 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 ...
6
votes
1answer
13k views

“Inner” but not “outter”?

in -> inner out -> outer / (outter?) What is the history or set of rules behind why 'inner' doubles the 'n' but 'outer' doesn't double the 't'?
2
votes
2answers
2k views

“Theater” vs. “Theatre” in American English

Why is it that "theater" and "theatre" do not follow the traditional rules of British and American spelling? British spellings like "metre" and "centre" are consistently switched to "meter" and ...
16
votes
2answers
1k views

What's the deal with “fiery”?

How did English end up with the adjective fiery (instead of *firy) from fire, but miry from mire and wiry from wire? Are there any other words where the noun is -ire and the adjective is -iery?
10
votes
1answer
7k views

When should a singular word ending in “y” end in “ies” plurally?

Words like "sky" and "money" have "ies" as a plural suffix (i.e. "skies" and "monies") but other words like "monkey" and "Emmy" do not ("monkeys" and "Emmys"). Is there a rule dictating the use of ...
2
votes
3answers
487 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 ...
5
votes
1answer
476 views

Why does Facebook have “like's” instead of “like”s?

I'm not a native English speaker, so I'm sorry if this is obvious but I can't find an explanation. Why are "like"s usually referred to as like's on Facebook? (You can see many instances here.) To ...
2
votes
1answer
172 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
73 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.
1
vote
1answer
51 views

Should the names of different sorting algorithms be “<qualifier> sort” or “<qualifier>sort”?

Should the names of different sorting algorithms be <qualifier> sort or <qualifier>sort? The titles of Wikipedia articles of these sorting algorithms are not consistent with respect to ...
-2
votes
1answer
52 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 ...
4
votes
3answers
3k views

“Parametrise” or “parameterise” a curve?

In British English, which one is correct? Does one parameterise a curve or parametrise it?
1
vote
1answer
64 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
194 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
304 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 ...
7
votes
5answers
10k views

Which is the proper spelling: “Adapter” or “adaptor”?

In my current project we are writing a program to convert a newer protocol to an older one. These conversion programs are being referred to as adapters, but the team cannot agree which spelling to ...
-1
votes
1answer
51 views

Spelling - why not finanse?

If it is license rather than licence, defense rather than defence, offense rather than offence, then why not finanse?
3
votes
2answers
3k views

Case of USD — “United States Dollar” or “United States dollar”

What is correct, United States dollar or United States Dollar? In the examples below the emphasis is mine. Example 1 (context) The United States dollar (sign: $; code: USD; also abbreviated US$) ...
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 ...
1
vote
2answers
824 views
1
vote
1answer
71 views

Nonstandard spellings for dialects

Are there standard ways of indicating dialect, as "I 'aven't," I asked 'is name," and especially "It couldn't 'a' 'appened." Can "have" be indicated with just "a"?
1
vote
2answers
226 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 ...
1
vote
2answers
571 views

How did “to lie” (i.e lie about something) and “to lie” (i.e. lie down) end up being spelled the same way?

I'm hoping to find out the history of how "to lie" as in say something dishonest and "to lie" as in rest horizontally end up being spelled the same way. To lie (lie, lied, lied): a false statement ...
0
votes
1answer
72 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
99 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
76 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
52 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?