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

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12
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2answers
3k 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 ...
16
votes
3answers
2k 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 ...
4
votes
4answers
7k views

Is it “dent” or “dint”?

It seems both dent and dint can mean an impression or hollow in a surface. Is there a reason for the two spellings? Do they have different connotations?
1
vote
1answer
732 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 ...
21
votes
11answers
26k views

“Synced” or “synched”

Which is correct: synced or synched? Is one of these American and the other British spelling or are they interchangeable? I have only ever seen sync used in the computing industry.
2
votes
1answer
137 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 ...
-1
votes
1answer
125 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
109 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 ...
3
votes
5answers
52k views

How do we differentiate long vowels from short vowels in English

I was finding a school for my toddler. I saw this new theory called long vowels and short vowels The teacher talk about apple, which she read something like "eiple" and the hat, which she claims use ...
6
votes
1answer
2k 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 ...
12
votes
4answers
535 views

When quoting speakers of another English dialect than your own, should you spell things their way?

I realize (or realise?) I may be splitting hairs here, but I find this question interesting, and I’ve never heard or seen it discussed before. I was about to post a quote from Rich Hickey outside my ...
1
vote
0answers
43 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 ...
2
votes
2answers
825 views

“Healthcare” or “Health care”?

Healthcare or Health care ? Which one is correct?
0
votes
1answer
95 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
429 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
3answers
295 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 ...
13
votes
4answers
959 views

Why is “wavelength” one word when “wave height” isn't?

Why is “wavelength” one word when “wave height” isn't? As another example, wave speed is two words. But wavelength is only one word. What is the reason for this? In Swedish and other contructs, ...
3
votes
1answer
2k views

“Parametrise” or “parameterise” a curve?

In British English, which one is correct? Does one parameterise a curve or parametrise it?
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 ...
6
votes
1answer
5k views

“Exercise” but not “exercize”

Many words are spelled with -ise in British English and -ize in American English: realise/realize sanitise/sanitize scrutinise/scrutinize But exercise can only be spelled with -ise, never with ...
0
votes
0answers
33 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") ...
-1
votes
4answers
158 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 ...
27
votes
1answer
22k views

“Sign up” vs. “signup”

When we have a button on a website for creating an account, should it say "sign up" or "signup"? I see "sign up" in most places, but which is the correct one?
8
votes
1answer
303 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
56 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 ...
13
votes
2answers
947 views

Canadian spelling: why?

As a Canadian, I feel that our spelling tendencies—sometimes British, sometimes American—fit quite well with our geographic, historic and cultural placement between these two bigger countries. I have ...
-1
votes
1answer
106 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.
6
votes
4answers
10k views

“An other” vs “another”

I just edited this answer on unix.sx. The original sentence was But it won't transform it to an other format. I changed this to But it won't transform it to another format. The second form ...
1
vote
4answers
81 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 ...
0
votes
3answers
508 views

When we will use soft and hard sound in 'c'? [closed]

Sometimes we use the soft sound, and sometimes the hard – but why? Is there any rule?
3
votes
3answers
4k views

“Archivable” or “archiveable”

I have an entity and I would like to describe it as being able to be archived. Is it archivable, archiveable (which seem OK for me but no wiktionary.org results) or something else?
0
votes
1answer
48 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) ...
0
votes
1answer
875 views

Should the English word for noodles be ''lamen'' or ''ramen''? [closed]

The Chinese word for noodles is lamen, or la-mien, and the Japanese also call it lamen, using their hiragana/katana syllaby. So the word is spoken with the L sound in both China and Japan (Taiwan, ...
3
votes
2answers
3k views

When should you use “then” and when “than”?

As far as I know, then is used in a conjunction and in time-related sentences; than in all other cases. I believe that these are correct: Because I'm older than she, I should be the first chosen; I ...
3
votes
2answers
1k 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
5answers
896 views

“Hostname” or “host name”?

When we are talking about computers, I see both hostname and host name being used. Which is more proper? Should I put the space in there?
3
votes
1answer
943 views

Participle of “center/centre” in UK English — “centring”? Seriously?

As an American, I was never shocked to see the word "center" spelled as "centre." It didn't bother me at all. Honestly. But then I saw the participle of it spelled as "centring" as opposed to ...
0
votes
0answers
33 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?
2
votes
3answers
225 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 ...
2
votes
2answers
781 views

Is it spelled “propeling” or “propelling” in American English?

Since travel becomes traveler and traveling in AmE (no double l), I thought that the same rule applied to propel. However, reading and writing propeling feels awkward. (And propeler feels even more ...
1
vote
1answer
270 views

Capitalization of honorifics such as “your excellency”, “your majesty”, “your holiness”

When addressing an ambassador, is it I agree with your excellency. or should your, excellency, or both be capitalized? Likewise with "your majesty" and "your holiness".
6
votes
4answers
7k 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
vote
2answers
231 views

pronunciation rule for grapheme “a” in words like “nefarious,” “variation” and “temporary”

English pronunciation / spelling guides appear to state that the letter/grapheme "a" is pronounced either as the "short a" with IPA symbol /æ/, as in "mat" or the "long a" with IPA symbol /eɪ/, as in ...
1
vote
1answer
130 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
4answers
3k views

“systematize” vs. “systemize”

Merriam-Webster defines "systemize" as an alternate spelling of "systematize." Is there any reason to choose one over the the other (besides "systematize" sounding a little weird to my ears)? I did ...
4
votes
4answers
492 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 ...
36
votes
3answers
12k views

What is the plural form of “zero”?

I tried looking on Google, but there are some fairly contradictory results. I thought I'd ask you guys so we could get an authoritative answer on the subject!
-2
votes
1answer
164 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
13
votes
5answers
20k views

“Y'all” or “ya'll”?

I've seen it spelled both ways. Are both correct?