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

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6
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5answers
329 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
4answers
1k 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
639 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

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"?
6
votes
3answers
9k 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
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
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
486 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
2answers
183k views

“Dammit” vs. “damnit” [closed]

What is the correct spelling, dammit or damnit? And what is the difference? Just writing this question brings up a red squiggly underneath damnit and the suggestions include dammit and damn it.
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
9k 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
4answers
11k 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 ...
6
votes
2answers
241 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
1answer
42k views

Difference between “zeros” and “zeroes” [duplicate]

Are there any differences between “zeros” and “zeroes”? Is any of them more correct, more often used, more modern? Are there differences e.g. between British English and American English in the usage ...
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
430 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
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 ...
6
votes
2answers
5k 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
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
3answers
18k 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
163 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 ...
6
votes
5answers
365 views

Is spelling still drifting?

If you look at texts from a few hundred years ago, they’re almost illegible, what with all the superfluous e’s and y’s running about, the long-S’s (  ſ  ), and so on. Texts from 100 and 120 years ago ...
6
votes
1answer
9k views
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 ...
6
votes
1answer
2k views

Variations in the pronunciation of “ea”

Perhaps this is more of a Linguistics question, so I apologize if this is not posted in the right place. Why is it that these words in English sound so different? earth   = /ɜrθ/     “urth” hearth ...
6
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?
6
votes
2answers
952 views

Why is “hiccup” spelled with two c's?

Is there a historical or grammatical reason for spelling hiccup with two c's?
6
votes
1answer
211 views

“Dawkins'” or “Dawkins's” [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: When did it become correct to add an 's' to a singular possessive already ending in 's'? I learned from school to use Dawkins', for example That is ...
6
votes
2answers
581 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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
6
votes
2answers
403 views

What is the difference between `-` and `--` [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: When should I use an em-dash, an en-dash, and a hyphen? Is there any difference between: - and -- or in some cases, a long dash I have seen these two used lots of ...
5
votes
9answers
2k views

Just how important are grammar and spelling?

A blog post of mine made it on the Hacker News front page. My blog post was mainly intended for a very, very small audience, but ended up getting around 20,000 views in one day. The most talked about ...
5
votes
4answers
2k 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 ...
5
votes
5answers
461 views

Is “denormalized” a word?

I use it all the time since I work with databases, but every time I write it somewhere with spell check I get the squiggly line below it. I've seen other people spell it with an "s" instead of a "z" ...
5
votes
4answers
649 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”?
5
votes
6answers
1k views

Words starting with a 'gw' sound

There seems to be only a few words starting with the 'gw' sound, though the only ones I can think of are proper nouns, for example, Gwyneth. Are there any non-name words starting with a 'gw'? Is there ...
5
votes
1answer
398 views

How to hyphenate a negated compound noun?

We have a term for a process, "defect source assessment". We want to describe a set of processes that are not related to that process. Which of the following (if any) would be correct? non ...
5
votes
1answer
12k 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'?
5
votes
2answers
1k views

Too, two, and to [closed]

Which to/too/two do you use when you are writing, "there are three ways to spell two/too/to in the English language?" My girlfriend has a BS in English and was unable to answer this so I was wondering ...
5
votes
1answer
272 views

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

The noun form of permit is permission instead of permition. Why isn't it permition?
5
votes
1answer
4k 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.
5
votes
3answers
15k 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.: ...
5
votes
5answers
757 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 ...
5
votes
6answers
4k views

“Runtime”, “run time”, and “run-time”

The CLR under .NET is referred to as the "Common Language Runtime." It seems that the convention is "runtime" for a noun and "run-time" for the adjective. Is this correct or should it be "runtime" ...
5
votes
5answers
7k 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 ...
5
votes
3answers
6k views

“Indispensible”: is it correct?

Today, I saw a news headline on BBC News. It says: Nuclear power is 'indispensible' says safety agency. As far as I know, the correct word should be "indispensable". Is it a typo (an example ...
5
votes
2answers
2k views

What is the correct way to write 'for ever more'?

I know that 'forever' is a word, and I know that 'evermore' is a word, but what is the correct way to write the phrase 'for ever more'? Is it 'forever more'? 'For evermore'? Or even 'forevermore', as ...
5
votes
4answers
2k 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. ...