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

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8
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1answer
117 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). ...
7
votes
6answers
401 views

Ways to Memorize “Discreet” and “Discrete” [closed]

I have a question about discreet and discrete. People tend to get these two words mixed up, and I would like to help them memorize these two words. Discrete: unconnected; separate Discreet: ...
7
votes
2answers
548 views

Why is it “serviceable” but not “servicable”?

I came across this word in the answer provided by Robusto for the question about Thank you. Because the last e in service is not pronounced, I thought it should be deleted when service is appended by ...
7
votes
3answers
12k views

“Checking” vs. “chequing” vs. “chequeing” with regards to types of bank accounts

I came across this little dilemma when looking up the incorrectly spelled word "chequing" in my web browser's dictionary (Opera). According to the different dictionaries you can select in Opera: EN ...
7
votes
6answers
610 views

What is the term for neglectful spelling of words such as “you” as “u”?

The age of texting and instant messaging as we all know has created a phenomenon of using shorter versions of words to save on keystrokes. On tiny keypads or phone buttons this obviously can be a time ...
7
votes
3answers
682 views

meaning and usage of 'teh'

“I wouldn’ say no teh a bit o’ yer birthday cake, neither.” “He usually gets me ter do important stuff fer him.”                —Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone Hagrid’s ...
7
votes
3answers
20k views

Does one capitalize “communism” and “communist”?

Suppose I have the following sentence: I lived in a communist country during the fall of communism in 1989. Should "communist" and "communism" be capitalized?
7
votes
2answers
37k views

How do you spell “Aye Yai Yai”

The phrase that's spoken when someone is hand-wringing about a thorny problem. Speaker One: Uh-oh -- we have to reformat ALL THE DOCUMENTS! Speaker Two: Aye Yai Yai, that's a lot of work! "Aye ...
7
votes
4answers
7k views

Is the word “representativity” possible?

I found natural to use the word "representativity" (with regard to a sample population of a survey), but my dictionary does not agree with me. Is "representativity" a valid construction?
7
votes
1answer
2k views

Why is “great” pronounced as “grate”, but spelled with “ea”?

Great is one of the few common English words in which "ea" is pronounced /eɪ/ (ay). Why is this pronunciation associated with this spelling? As an aside, I remember from researching for my answer to ...
7
votes
3answers
8k views

Is it “flotation” or “floatation”?

Is the difference between flotation and floatation a US/UK difference or something else? I think I did see floatation in some physics book.
7
votes
3answers
10k views

Which is the proper spelling: “disfunction” or “dysfunction”?

Is this word spelt dysfunction or disfunction? Are there any correct spellings at all for this word? The reason I asked is because I've always learned to spell it as "disfunction" until recently, ...
7
votes
3answers
15k views

Timepoint vs. time point

When speaking of a point in time, what would be the proper usage: "Timepoint" vs. "Time point"? This funny confusion comes from my life as a programmer: While one of our style checkers enforces ...
7
votes
2answers
615 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" ...
7
votes
3answers
1k views

Inquiry vs. enquiry

I received an email today with "a simple inquiry." I responded that her "enquiry" was quite reasonable before I realized that we were spelling the word differently. Dictionary.com has enquiry as an ...
7
votes
1answer
24k views

What is the meaning of “atleast” and is it different from “at least”?

I don't think atleast is an actual word, but I've found many instances of its usage. A simple google search for atleast reveal 13,100,000 hits. What is the meaning of atleast and is it different ...
7
votes
1answer
179 views

What are the correct spelling and regional distribution of “X, schmX” to indicate dismissiveness (e.g., “evidence, schmevidence”)?

There is a curious construct in American English in which a word is stated and then repeated with the prefix "schm-" or "shm-" in order to indicate the speaker's dismissive attitude toward a concern ...
7
votes
2answers
134 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\ ?
7
votes
2answers
1k views

Enquire and inquire

In British English I think these two words have different shades of meaning, but I couldn't articulate them. In American English I see inquire used where I would use "enquire". Are there shades of ...
7
votes
4answers
82k views

Which spelling is correct: “benefiting” or “benefitting”?

Which spelling is correct: benefiting or benefitting?
7
votes
4answers
13k views

What is the possessive of “you guys”?

Most people seem to stumble over this. The problem can arise with any multi-word phrase that needs a possessive but ends in S, and so sounds awkward using the clitic apostrophe-S. I've heard this ...
7
votes
2answers
960 views

Why do American and British English use different quotation marks?

American English uses double-quotes, while British English uses single-quotes: "This is a quote." 'This is a quote.' Why do we use different quotation marks? When did this difference ...
7
votes
2answers
2k views

English line breaking rules

In Czech typography, some prepositions are not allowed to be at the end of the line, so line break is not allowed between that preposition and the following word. Are there similar rules in English ...
7
votes
2answers
1k views

Capitalization for a bullet list

The following is from some software documentation we are writing: NOTE: Refreshing a report may be necessary or helpful when: you believe the data in the report has changed since it was ...
7
votes
1answer
631 views

How did the “double consonant to shorten vowel” thing come about? (“furry” vs. “fury”)

In English, a doubled consonant most commonly means "shorten the previous vowel", where "shorten" means map phonemes like this: [aɪ] -> [i] [oʊ] -> [ɔ] etc For example, fury is pronounced [fjʊri] ...
7
votes
2answers
201 views

Term for written paralanguage?

Is there a term for words filling in for body language (*sigh*) and/or for typography being used to express tone or intonation (THIS IS SHOUTING)?
6
votes
3answers
4k views

Is “thankyou” acceptable as a single word?

I was doing a small piece of language translation in Google Translate, and it detected the use of "thankyou" in the text and asked "do you mean - thank you". Is the single word version - thankyou - ...
6
votes
4answers
5k 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?
6
votes
5answers
322 views

“Geteth the tax”?

I was driving today, and I saw this billboard: The tax man cometh. Geteth the health insurance. Is this spelling correct? I'm not used to -eth, so I am not sure. Should it be "getteth"?
6
votes
5answers
302 views

Does quoting in British or American English depend on the quoted or the audience?

If you are quoting/documenting the conversation between two people — one is British and one American — do you use a consistent approach directed towards your intended audience or switch to ...
6
votes
2answers
553 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"?
6
votes
3answers
3k views

adding a prefix “re” to a word, with or without a hyphen?

In science we often invent words, but that doesn't mean we know how to spell them. Most of the time words are invented by adding prefixes. In that case should there be a hyphen or not? Specifically, I ...
6
votes
3answers
6k views

“Ph” for the /f/ sound; Is Old English responsible for this swap?

Is Old English responsible for creating the /f/ sound from ph, as in Philip, Pharoah, Physics, Sophia, etc? Many European countries keep the f for all of their /f/-sounding letters, as in Sofia and ...
6
votes
2answers
1k views

What is the correct spelling: “wrapable” or “wrappable”?

As it sounds: is "wrapable" correct, or is "wrappable" correct? Or are neither correct? Microsoft Word complains about both, but Google doesn't correct either one.
6
votes
3answers
907 views

'Postpone' or 'postphone'?

I was taught that the word postpone was spelled as I just spelled it, but recently I have seen a rise in the spelling postphone (or post phone). At first, I thought it was just a spelling error, but I ...
6
votes
1answer
2k views

Origins of the “‑cede/‑seed/‑ceed” suffix

Somewhere in the back of my mind I seem to remember cedere meant “to go or yield” in Latin. Presumably this gives us the words concede and accede. (?) But what about the words supersede and proceed? ...
6
votes
3answers
6k views

What English word has the most consecutive consonants?

I was driving past the village of Hampsthwaite the other day, and happened to spot the six consecutive consonants in the middle. It set me wondering whether this was the most possible, and if not, ...
6
votes
1answer
463 views

Why Abraham and not Avraham?

In the Hebrew scriptures Abraham's name is Avraham and not Abraham (אַבְרָהָם). Is has a v and not a b. The same goes for Rebecca, who is called Rivka in Hebrew. Both v and b sounds are represented by ...
6
votes
2answers
231 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? ...
6
votes
3answers
1k views

Why do we spell “eureka”, not “heureka”?

Why is the spelling "eureka" by far more preferable to "heureka" in English? Greek vocabularies give "heureka" for the perfect to "heurisko".
6
votes
2answers
370 views

Why are “indemnify” and “condemn” spelled differently?

Comparing the words indemnify and condemn: Both contain demn as a root Both are transitive verbs Why is one spelled differently from the other – why not indemn, or condemnify?
6
votes
1answer
379 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 ...
6
votes
1answer
1k views

Why is “transferred” written with two R's?

Why is transferred written with two R's? I am a native speaker of Dutch, and in my point of view this isn't logical; there are other words like coloured and endeavoured that only have -ed added after ...
6
votes
3answers
2k views

How was 'Sundae' derived from 'Sunday'?

On Sunday, April 3,2011, Google displayed a commemorative graphic for the 119th anniversary of the first documented case of the Ice Cream Sunday. (Image comes from: ...
6
votes
2answers
1k views

Problem with -ance/-ence

OK, so I'm ashamed to admit that as a native speaker I think I've missed something somewhere. I was typing up some documentation and spellchecker kept bugging me. So I looked up some words and found ...
6
votes
2answers
3k views

Is “swop” an acceptable variant of “swap”?

I've always spelt it with an "a". But my friend insists on spelling it with an "o". Is this an acceptable variant?
6
votes
1answer
2k views

“An SQL Server database schema” or “a SQL Server database schema”? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Do you use “a” or “an” before acronyms? I got the following sentence from the book I'm reading: You can take a database-first approach by ...
6
votes
2answers
1k 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 ...
6
votes
3answers
13k views

“Dysfunctional” vs. “disfunctional” [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Which is the proper spelling: “disfunction” or “dysfunction”? What's the rationale behind dysfunctional being spelled dys- and not dis-?
6
votes
1answer
148 views

Should a contraction taken from the center of a word have two apostrophes? [closed]

I'm currently reading Entrepreneur Magazine, and there is a story profiling a 13-year-old who created a series of stickers to embellish Lego blocks. The subtitle of the story reads A pint-size ...