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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3answers
435 views

Do any words have three or more correct spellings? [closed]

I can call to mind several words with another correct spelling (colour, analogue, disc, barbeque) but I can't think of any with multiple correct spellings, i.e. three or more equally acceptable, ...
8
votes
3answers
308 views

Are vowel ligatures common in any disciplines these days?

Are there any areas of writing, literature or science where æ or œ are still used? Are there contexts where they are still considered mandatory?
8
votes
1answer
2k 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
507 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
4answers
16k 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
832 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
2answers
644 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
807 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
41k 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
1answer
14k 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'?
7
votes
3answers
22k 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
5answers
11k 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
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"?
7
votes
3answers
20k 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
1answer
554 views

Is there any rule for pronouncing words beginning with “re-”?

It’s hard for me to guess how to pronounce words beginning with re- correctly. Sometimes it is /rɛ/ as in reference, but sometimes it is /ri/ as in report. Is there any rule about this?
7
votes
1answer
949 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 ...
7
votes
1answer
2k 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 ...
7
votes
2answers
7k 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?
7
votes
3answers
1k 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 ...
7
votes
2answers
713 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
624 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 ...
7
votes
2answers
41k views

“travelling” vs. “traveling” [closed]

Is the correct spelling travelling or traveling? I’ve seen both in common usage, but I can't find an authoritative source that says one way or another. Is this a difference between British spelling ...
7
votes
3answers
32k 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-?
7
votes
4answers
2k views

Why The New York Times no longer capitalizes “E-mail”

Why isn't E-mail capitalized like it used to be in The New York Times?
7
votes
2answers
2k 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
1answer
425 views

How compound words “eighteen” and “roommate” are built

Why does eighteen not have two tees like roommate has two ems?
7
votes
1answer
8k 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 ...
7
votes
2answers
42k views

Onward vs Onwards [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: “Toward” or “towards”? Which is the correct usage? "Onwards" or "Onward" ? For example: I would be free any time Tuesday onward. vs I ...
7
votes
1answer
6k views

Why is it spelled “curiosity” instead of “curiousity?”

I have been spelling the word "curiosity" with a u, "curiousity," my whole life, and only today was Chrome's spellcheck bold enough to highlight my lifelong error. I have two questions: The root ...
7
votes
3answers
5k views

“shyer” or “shier”

My Longman dictionary states that the comparative of 'shy' is 'shyer'. However, at least two online dictionaries also give the form 'shier' as being acceptable: The Free Dictionary and ...
7
votes
5answers
11k 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 ...
7
votes
1answer
839 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
236 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
50k views

31th or 31st is correct? [closed]

I just realized that I’ve never needed to use 31th or 31st in my four years English study. So which one is correct, and what about other alternatives? 31th or 31st 101th or 101st 1001th or ...
6
votes
4answers
3k views

What is the plural of “BlackBerry” (as in the handheld device)

Is the plural of "BlackBerry", BlackBerries or BlackBerrys? I am asking, because I'm altering the underlying brand name to look more like the food and less like the product, leaving the reader to ...
6
votes
4answers
786 views

Usage of apostrophe in “baker’s dozen”

In the phrase “baker’s dozen”, why does the apostrophe indicate possession of a (single) baker? Shouldn't it indicate possession of all bakers in general? Shouldn’t it be “bakers’ dozen”?
6
votes
5answers
426 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
381 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
3answers
14k 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
3answers
4k 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
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 ...
6
votes
2answers
2k 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
5answers
936 views

Spelling and plural of abbreviation “hi vis”

We regularly use these "hi visibility jackets/vests": We use them often enough to informally abbreviate it to simply "hi vis". I am struggling as to how to pluralise such a term. In speech it ...
6
votes
3answers
19k views

In British English, should it be “licensee” or “licencee”?

We all know that "license" in American English is "licence" in British English. But what about the person to whom the licence is given? Various dictionaries show the 'c' version, e.g.: ...
6
votes
1answer
3k 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
14k 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
3answers
656 views

Connotations of Letter 'X'

In the English language, the letter X has a connotation of mystery, intrigue, or excitement. Examples: Planet X: A theoretical planet of mysterious origin, or an unknown planet. [Edit: Bad example, ...
6
votes
4answers
3k views

Is there a verb “refactor” meaning “doing refactoring” in English?

Code refactoring consists of changing the structure of the code without changing its functionality. The term refactoring is currently used by software development industry to refer to this process. ...
6
votes
5answers
10k views

Is incorrect capitalization considered a spelling error?

Is incorrect capitalization, such as the lowercase "i" in can [this is not the sic you're after] i [this sic] have an if statement within a dialog box code? considered a spelling mistake, or ...
6
votes
3answers
3k views

“Parametrise” or “parameterise” a curve?

In British English, which one is correct? Does one parameterise a curve or parametrise it?