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
votes
2answers
196 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, ...
4
votes
3answers
979 views

Pluralization of proper nouns: regular or irregular? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Family name pluralization If a proper noun is a homograph of a common noun, is the proper noun subject to the same usage and form rules as the common noun, especially if ...
2
votes
3answers
163 views

Is “webdesigner” a word?

I am a uh, designer of websites, and I would like to use the phrase for my profession correctly. Unfortunately, webdesigner is flagged by Google Chrome's spellchecker as a misspelling, and web ...
13
votes
5answers
1k 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, ...
1
vote
3answers
133 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'?
8
votes
4answers
20k views

Why does English spelling use silent letters?

Why have a letter in a word when it’s silent in pronunciation, like the b in debt? Can anyone please clarify my uncertainty here?
5
votes
2answers
3k views

Alphabetizing List of Mixed Words and Acronyms

I am creating a glossary that includes both acronyms and multi-word definitions, and I'm wondering if there is a standard/most-appropriate way to sort them. I have tried to search for ...
5
votes
3answers
257 views

Is “ O’Leary’s’s ” orthographically correct? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Possessive of a word that's already possessive? There’s a bar near me named O’Leary’s Irish Pub—or just O’Leary’s for short. One day, they changed their menu. I ...
2
votes
4answers
2k views

Is “blah blah blah” the most common spelling?

What is the most common or correct spelling of "blah blah blah"? blah blah blah blah blah bla bla bla bla bla My question stems from when I first wrote it as "bla bla bla" in an English text, ...
5
votes
2answers
771 views

Are heteronyms unique to English and why do they exist?

Heteronyms are words with identical spelling and unique definition and pronunciations. For example, read (I have read that book; I will read that book), close (The door is close; I will close the ...
5
votes
2answers
1k views

Is there any rhyme or reason to when one should double the last consonant when adding -ed or -ing? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: focussed or focused? The double consonant Sometimes, final consonants are doubled when adding -ed or -ing to the end of a verb whose penultimate letter is a vowel. ...
0
votes
1answer
231 views

Is spelling part of Language? [closed]

In response to another question I asked, I was told spelling is not a part of language because it is a part of writing. This statement confuses me. Writing is a form of communication and is ...
62
votes
6answers
3k views

How come 'ou' was reduced to 'o' in the US?

Americans write color and favorite, when others say colour and favourite. How/why did this happen?
0
votes
2answers
245 views

Adding “-ing” to a verb ending with a pronounced “e”

When a verb ends with a "e" that is pronounced, do you get rid of the "e" when you add "-ing"? For example, would you say "His karaoking last night was really unique", or "His karaokeing last night ...
5
votes
0answers
68 views

Why do you write “receive” with “ei” but “retrieve” with “ie”? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Why is it true that “I before E, except after C”? Both words are similar in pronunciation but different in spelling. Why is it that receive is written with ei but ...
4
votes
4answers
10k 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?
0
votes
1answer
107 views

What is the proper way to spell “inspiraysh”?

I've noticed a trend among "younger people" to shorten words by simply cutting the ending off. For example, instead of inspiration they might say something like inspiraysh. What is the proper way ...
8
votes
3answers
2k views

Term for words with identical spelling but different meaning and different pronunciation

What do you call words with identical spelling but different meaning and different pronunciation? A couple examples are bass and resume.
1
vote
1answer
1k views

hallo or hello: etymology dilemma

Does anybody know the etymology of the main greeting in English: hallo? Besides that I wish to know the difference between the terms hallo and hello. I have to know!
8
votes
2answers
4k views

Why is “k” added to “panic” when suffixes added (as in “panicky”)?

When adding any suffix to the word "panic," a "k" is added after the "c". Examples: panicked, panicking, panicky. Why is this the case? Are there any other English words that do the same? I'm also ...
7
votes
2answers
715 views

Why doesn't blood sound like \ˈblüd\? [duplicate]

The pronunciation of blood is \'bləd\ while words such as moon and spoon (with double 'o') are pronounced as \ˈmün\ and \ˈspün. Why isn't blood pronounced like \ˈblüd\ ?
5
votes
1answer
7k views

Hwat, hwere, and hwy?

In which English accents do they put an h before every word that starts with wh? Example from Youtube. Notice his pronunciation of whisky.
0
votes
1answer
553 views

Reform of English writing?

As is commonly known, English is quite notorious for having a writing system that is far removed from the actual way it is most commonly pronounced. I understand that there are important historical ...
22
votes
2answers
4k views

Why is it true that “I before E, except after C”?

I almost hesitate to ask this, because it is hard to believe no one else asked it; but it isn't showing up in the "similar titles" list. What is special about 'C' that switches the 'IE' immediately ...
11
votes
2answers
2k views

Spelling of “high” vs “height”

Out of curiosity, how come height is spelt with an e while one drops it in high or highest? In my opinion, it seems rather weird that it isn't consistent. Is there a logical or historical ...
21
votes
2answers
2k views

Why does the 'i' in 'explain' disappear when written as 'explanation'?

The word 'explain' has an 'i'. Why does that 'i' disappear when we write it as 'explanation'.
3
votes
4answers
5k views

Why are 'blueish' and 'bluish' both considered correct spellings?

My nine year old son fought hard on this and is taking a stand on spelling bluish as blueish. I'm certain his teacher will mark it as a spelling error in his writing... Several dictionaries have ...
23
votes
5answers
2k views

How do you spell Muammar Qaddafi?

This name, which is spelled القذافي in Arabic, is spelled in so many different ways in the Latin alphabet: Gadafi, Gadaffi, Gaddafi, Gaddaffi, Gadhafi, Gadhaffi, Ghadafi, Ghadaffi, Ghaddafi, ...
19
votes
3answers
45k views

Why is the word 'bologna' pronounced like 'baloney'?

Why is the word 'bologna' (as in a bologna sandwich) pronounced so differently from the way it's spelled? The word 'lasagna' isn't pronounced 'lasagney'... The American sausage is derived from a ...
17
votes
2answers
50k views
6
votes
2answers
268 views

“Lessen, poisoned gulls, ditcher wander hair annulled furry tell a boarder Slipping Booty?”

This is the prelude to an article published in Sports Illustrated magazine on August 17, 1959: Lessen, poisoned gulls, ditcher wander hair annulled furry tell a boarder Slipping Booty? Hoecake? ...
5
votes
4answers
2k 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 ...
6
votes
2answers
1k views

Why is “hiccup” spelled with two c's?

Is there a historical or grammatical reason for spelling hiccup with two c's?
5
votes
2answers
728 views

Where do the idiosyncrasies in the spellings of English words come from and why do they survive?

For example: GH in enough is pronounced "F" O in women is pronounced short "I" TI in nation is pronounced "SH" Why aren't the words spelled enouf, wimen, nashon, or why not spell fish "ghoti"? It ...
6
votes
2answers
2k views

“Lambast” or “lambaste”

I looked up both lambast and lambaste in several dictionaries, but came up with no conclusions about which one is AE and which BE (if this distinction can ever be made). Moreover, the different ...
0
votes
1answer
3k views

Why does a silent “-e” at the end of a word lengthen vowels?

There's a common pattern in English spelling where "short" vowels are pronounced as "long" vowels with the addition of a silent "e" at the end of the word. E.g. bit → bite mat → mate pet → pete ...
1
vote
2answers
383 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
761 views

How to guess the pronunciation of some inconsistencies in English?

I’m not a native English speaker, and I have a lot of problems when is comes to pronouncing words like archive, archon, zealot, heal, health. Why is the ch sometime pronounced like a k? Why is the ...
3
votes
2answers
2k 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 ...
0
votes
1answer
1k views

/u/ and /uː/ in pronunciation

What is the regularity of appearance of /uː/ and /u/ (or /ʊ/ in RP)? How can I be most sure deducing from spelling alone, that, say, "ooze" is pronounced /uːz/ and "wool" as /wul/? I know that English ...
1
vote
0answers
1k views

Why do certain words have the same type of spelling but different pronunciation? [duplicate]

There are words like 'but' , 'cut' etc pronounced in the same way, but 'put' is pronounced differently. Put has the same structure as but and cut (One 'u' between two consonants). So why is it ...
5
votes
1answer
396 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 ...
2
votes
1answer
885 views

Words with pronunciations more complex than spelling

The word mischievous is sometimes pronounced with a long e sound between the v and the last vowel (mis-chee-vee-us), although this is controversial. Is there a name for this type of word, where the ...
110
votes
2answers
10k views

Why is “bicycle” pronounced differently from other obviously related words?

The word bicycle is pronounced /'baɪsɪkəl/ (bahy-si-kuhl), like sickle. However, the words unicycle and motorcycle both have the -cycle pronounced as /-'saɪkəl/ (sahy-kuhl). Is there some sort of ...
0
votes
1answer
1k 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, ...
5
votes
1answer
640 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
204 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
2answers
286 views

Why does U sound like W in words like “penguin”?

A semivowel is a vowel that acts like a consonant (including only W and Y and yet U sounds like W sound in words such as penguin, sanguine, but not in guide. Can anyone tell me why?
25
votes
6answers
3k views

Why was the “th” combination chosen for the “th” sound?

Given that the two "th" sounds don't actually sound like a combination of "t" and "h" why was that particular combination selected or become adopted by the majority ?
11
votes
3answers
8k views

Why doesn't “ninth” have an “e”, like “ninety”?

Is it just because "ninth" has only one syllable? That wouldn't make sense, though, because saying "NINE-ith" wouldn't be worse than saying "NINE-e-tee". If we were used to "nineth", we would have ...