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
2answers
116 views

Why is the past tense of “may”, “might”?

Why is the past tense of may, might? When you see other past forms of auxiliary verbs, they usually have -ould, like should, could, and would. Unlike other forms, the past tense of may is might not ...
0
votes
2answers
57 views

What is the plural for timeout?

In basketball, football, hockey, and many other sport the teams get a set number of timeouts. I was watching a summer league NBA game and there were some stat nerds talking and one referenced that ...
18
votes
1answer
1k views

Graphotactics of possessive: the true reason for the apostrophe

I have some hypotheses for English graphotactics: 〈w〉 and 〈y〉 are optional positional variants (i.e. allographs) of 〈u〉 and 〈i〉, respectively, in digraphs that correspond with diphthongs or vowels: ...
2
votes
1answer
3k views

Shalln't vs. Shan't in British English

I am a British English speaker and often use "shall" and "shall not". When I contract "shall not", I pronounce it [ʃɑlnt] -- that is, the "l" sound remains. My question, therefore, is how do I spell ...
1
vote
1answer
101 views

“long” <i> - inconsistencies in the relationship between orthography and pronunciation

I'm wondering about the dual pronunciations of the letter /i/ in open syllables. Usually it has the realization [a͡ɪ], representing the regular outcome of long i after the great vowel shift, but ...
-1
votes
1answer
56 views

why is it “one European institution”, but “European Institutions” (with capital i) if talking about several authorities?

I found this spelling differentiation on the website of the EU commission and you can see it on wikipedia, too: "There are a range of European Institutions in Strasbourg (France), the oldest of which ...
1
vote
0answers
84 views

Spelling etymology of “-il[l]” words

I've noticed that modern English seems to have a very strong bias to spell verbs which end with "-(consonant)-il" with double "l", i.e. "-ill". The overwhelming majority of such verbs (like to will, ...
1
vote
0answers
60 views

Exaggerating the pronunciation of a vowel or consonant

Is there a word for exaggerating the pronunciation of a vowel or consonant by holding it longer than normal? When conveying this in writing, does it fall in the same category as an accent or dialect ...
1
vote
0answers
59 views

How did the spelling of 'mien' evolve?

I ask only about mien's definition of 'A person’s look or manner', and not the Yao people. OED: Etymology: Probably a merging of two words of distinct origins: (i) shortened < demean n.; ...
0
votes
0answers
49 views

Where to put the hypen (if any) in “status quo oriented”?

Writing the following sentence, During the negotiation of both regulations, bargaining power was distributed in favour of the status quo oriented states. I wonder where to put a hyphen, if ...
0
votes
0answers
27 views

Capitalization of “diploma business informatics”

For an application I need to translate my resume. What is the right way spelling of my degree: 2010-2015 Diploma business informatics 2010-2015 Diploma Business Informatics 2010-2015 Diploma of ...
0
votes
0answers
43 views

Nonabelian or non-abelian?

I asked this question on Mathematics Stack Exchange (here) but I haven't had any luck so far. Allow me to copy the question: If I wanted to be scrupulous about correct spelling, is there any reason ...