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

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2
votes
4answers
2k views

Where does 'doofus' (or perhaps 'dufus') come from?

Both Dufus and Doofus seem to be common on the web, so I'm not sure which is the correct spelling, if either. It's kind of a cool word. Do we have any idea where/how it originated?
6
votes
4answers
2k 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 ...
1
vote
1answer
2k views

Possessive and plural suffixes for proper nouns ending in -s [closed]

With a name that ends in -s, such as Travis or Lewis, where and when should you use -es, -'s, -s or just leave it alone to both pluralise, and to infer belonging to? E.g., if the ball belongs to ...
1
vote
1answer
631 views

An e in “absured”?

A few paragraphs in to Chapter 3 of "How to win friends and influence people"—a book that I'm embarrassed to admit I've undertaken—I found what just appears to be an odd spelling for "absurd." ...
1
vote
1answer
147 views

Pronunciation of “great” vs. “treat” [closed]

Why is great pronounced /greit/ while in other words the ea is pronounced differently? Take treat, for example: /tri:t/. Why are two words with the same number of vowels and consonants and the same ...
2
votes
1answer
517 views

Words at beginning of sentences with first letter displayed within brackets?

I've been reading The Deer Slayer, and I can't help but notice that some words at the beginning of sentences display their first letter within square brackets. Here are some examples: [W]hen five ...
4
votes
2answers
332 views

If a letter isn't pronounced but affects pronunciation of other letters, is it still 'silent'?

The 'e' in paste isn't pronounced on its own, but changes the pronunciation of the 'a'. In that case, is the 'e' still referred to as silent?
0
votes
3answers
249 views

“Cheeseslicer” or “cheese slicer”?

Can somebody confirm if the correct spelling is cheeseslicer or cheese slicer? I always thought in English words are not written together when combined, but some online dictionaries are contradictory ...
3
votes
3answers
156 views

Is it commonly accepted using the slash to mean “as well as”, rather than “or”?

I hope this is the end of blind US/UK support for a state with a shocking record of human rights. (BBC) As is well known, the most common use of the slash is to link words which are alternative, ...
0
votes
1answer
530 views

What happens when baker's, butcher's, etc. are in the plural?

If the singular it is: The baker's and the butcher's are closed on Sundays. Which one is the plural? Bakers and butchers are closed on Sundays. Bakers' and butchers' are closed on ...
1
vote
1answer
892 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!
-2
votes
0answers
51 views

'whom' vs 'who' [duplicate]

How does one use 'whom' in a sentence? Is this sentence correct? Ex: I am delighted for all my cousins who have found happiness.
3
votes
2answers
171 views

Hyphens when using “something + style” to describe something?

He lit the fire Cherokee style. or: He lit the fire Cherokee-style. I have seen both. Which is correct? And, if it's the second option, then what about "multiple words + style"? E.g.: ...
3
votes
3answers
2k views

Should I use a hyphen in the term “in(-)situ visualization”?

The term in(-)situ visualization denotes a visualization or graphics that is depicted in place, for instance, a sparkline that is embedded into text. As the dictionaries tell, the adjective or adverb ...
9
votes
1answer
527 views

When did it become incorrect to use apostrophes with possessive pronouns?

I'm reading Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility, and I notice that she invariably uses an apostrophe with possessive pronouns — in a way that would be considered incorrect now. For example: (Elinor is ...
0
votes
1answer
508 views

Can “Any Other Business” be generally perceived, and used as the legit business terms?

I was interested in the fact that the first letter of the each word of “Any Other Business” is shown in the upper case in the following sentence: “At the first meeting of the new bard, Townsend ...
3
votes
0answers
50 views

Origin and name for horizontal line hiding date or place name [duplicate]

Does anyone know a) the origins, or b) the name of the convention of replacing dates or place names in 18th / 19th century novels with a horizontal line? I'm not asking for the reasons authors did ...
3
votes
2answers
205 views

How did the spelling “demesne” come about? [closed]

The word demesne seems to just be an alternative spelling of the rather more logically-spelt domain. I'm wondering how this strange spelling came about? Even taking into account its given etymology ...
1
vote
1answer
721 views

Sub-classification or subclassification? [closed]

We’re debating this at work. Merriam-Webster says it’s “subclassification”. Dictionary.Reference.com allows “sub-classification” and “subclassification” Is there a ‘more correct’ word to use? ...
-1
votes
2answers
682 views

Do I capitalize or write out 'first' if I write: “Her birthday was May First.”?

I'm writing a story in which a character's birthday (May 1st) is significant. A characters notes in conversation that, "Her birthday is May first." Should I write out 'first' or refer to it as '1st'? ...
1
vote
1answer
124 views

“Spoon feed” vs. “spoonfeed” [closed]

Is there a whitespace in spoonfeed? I have to choose between writing Spoon Feed Code and Spoonfeed Code.
3
votes
2answers
105 views

Is afeast or possibly affeast, afeest etc. a word?

My English (vai Liverpool)-Canadian mother used this word to mean 'disgusted by' or 'repulsed by.' Example: "he is afeast of mixed foods." meaning you think mixed foods are disgusting or inedible. I ...
0
votes
0answers
18 views

Writing double voiced vowels [duplicate]

I have a pretty straight forwards question I think. Of the following three spellings, which one is generally accepted as correct (I've seen them all, well, something like it) reemerge re-emerge ...
4
votes
3answers
1k views

Is there a term to describe words whose pronunciation bears no relationship to their spelling?

The English language is peppered with wonderfully weird spelling/pronunciation combinations. For example colonel, pronounced kur-nl, probably my favorite there isn't even an r in the word! ...
0
votes
1answer
202 views

How do I express the plural of a letter in writing?

My last name has two occurrences of the letter "s" in it, so in speech I tell people all the time that it's spelled "with two esses". However I don't know how to express such a thing in writing. I can ...
4
votes
1answer
634 views

What is the name for words which, when the order of letters is reversed, spell other words?

For example: Lamina / Animal Dog / God Ogre / Ergo Desserts / Stressed Tuba / Abut These are all anagrams, but they are a special type of anagram, where the order of letters is exactly reversed. ...
2
votes
1answer
9k views

University's vs Universities', correct spelling of the possessive [closed]

Something belongs to the University. Is it the Universities' logo or the University's logo? I somehow don't think University's exists.
2
votes
0answers
42 views

What is the correct capitalization of code examples when beginning a sentence? [duplicate]

I am writing a technical book and a lot of it is structured as explanations of code examples. For instance: var links = data.map(function (d) { return {source: nick_id(d.from), ...
0
votes
1answer
72 views

Usage and spelling of “wordlength” and “bitbreadth”

As far as I know, these are the meanings: wordlength — for instance, 4 bytes when the bitbreadth is 32 and 8 bytes when the bitbreadth is 64. bitbreadth — for example, 32 or 64 or 4 bits for a ...
2
votes
1answer
450 views

How to form a gerund from “practise”?

I (think) I know the difference between practise (verb) and practice (non-verb). However, I am not sure which form I should use in cases like the following ones: I love practising the guitar. ...
2
votes
5answers
4k views

Where does the phrase “fair do's/dues/doos/does” come from?

I was researching the phrase fair do's, attempting to determine which spelling was most appropriate, and where it had come from. Unfortunately most of the information I could find was very ...
5
votes
1answer
1k views

British spelling of programme and diagram

Does anyone know a reason why British English retains the -amme ending for programme but not for diagram? They both have French origins. Programme ... Spelling programme, established in Britain, ...
5
votes
1answer
318 views

Why is the noun form of “permit” “permission”?

The noun form of permit is permission instead of permition. Why isn't it permition?
3
votes
2answers
719 views

Why is imperialism not spelled empirialism?

If the goal of imperialism is to create an empire, why is the word not spelled "empirialism"?
5
votes
3answers
1k views

How much mmmm should be in hmmmmmmm

This is my first question here. I am not a fluent English speaker. I just know the basics. My question is how many m's should be there in "hmm" as when I try typing it anywhere, it suggests "hmmm," ...
1
vote
2answers
369 views

Overview of comma and interpunctuation rules

Is there any good summary of comma and interpunctuation rules? I know that English spelling traditionally requires fewer commas than, for example, German, however I am often unsure whether to use a ...
4
votes
1answer
3k views

How to use hyphens appropriately when listing multiple hyphenated terms?

If multiple hyphenated terms share the same latter half, and I wish to list them without repeating that latter half, how should the hyphens be placed? For example: I will be investigating control ...
3
votes
1answer
376 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 ...
0
votes
1answer
111 views

Does the word “raytracer” exist?

If not, is it well readable anyway? "Ray tracer" seems to be used more frequently but this is not my question. An example sentence could be: A raytracer is a computer program that uses an ...
0
votes
1answer
461 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 ...
-1
votes
4answers
220 views

When are you 'You', and when 'you'? [closed]

When is it in spelling that the personal pronoun 'you' should be written with capital Y?
8
votes
3answers
7k views

“Home page” or “homepage”? [closed]

Is there a convention for the spelling of the name of the main page of a website? Should it be home page, with a space between the two words; or homepage, all one word?
6
votes
1answer
6k 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 ...
4
votes
2answers
553 views

Character vs Charm - Pronunciation

Is there a rule to understand how the group "Cha" has to be pronounced? "Character" sounds with a hard first syllable, while "Charm" sound softer, but I don't find how to tell which sound to use ...
0
votes
1answer
134 views

“Boneular” vs. “bonular” [closed]

My knowledge in morphology and orthography is lacking. I would like to know how to spell the neologism boneular, from bone (or Backbone, a programming library used for creating Web applications) and ...
-2
votes
1answer
2k views

Height and weight written out

In formal writing I like to do this (in British style): The infant weighed 10lb 5oz; a 10lb 5oz infant He was 6ft 3in tall; a 6ft 3in man My question is about the plural usage: do we ...
7
votes
3answers
749 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 ...
9
votes
2answers
1k views

Is it “falsy” or “falsey”?

I have seen both versions of the word, falsy and falsey. It can mean "something that is equivalent to false" in computer science, such as "The only two falsy values in the Ruby Language are false and ...
1
vote
1answer
657 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 ...
5
votes
0answers
384 views

How are Japanese words spelt in English? [closed]

When they are writing material in English, I sometimes see native speakers of Japanese misspell English words that were derived from Japanese. For example, I've seen "tunami" written instead of ...