I'm translating a book and need to keep the English orthography consistent. I'm a native 'British English' speaker. I know in British English you can often use either 'ize' or 'ise' endings. My problem is that instinctively 'recognize' feels right, but 'characterize' looks wrong. But for the sake of consistency do I have to write 'characterize' (or alternatively change all the endings to 'ise' and write 'recognise')

  • It looked odd to me as well, but it seems that characterize is indeed how it's spelt in AmE. Some dictionaries will highlight spellings particular to American English. There are words that end with -ise in AmE (e.g. reprise), but where you have a choice, it's usually good to be consistent with your choice of 'dialect'. – Lawrence Jul 24 '18 at 16:27
  • Thanks a lot for the prompt answer. My problem is more that I'm wondering if I can get away with writing 'recognize' since that's the way I learned it as a British English speaker, but at the same time use 'characterise' on the grounds that the specific word 'recognize' is also British English while 'characterize' is not. – S Conroy Jul 24 '18 at 16:34
  • Sure - the consistency is with the language variant, not with particular letter combinations. – Lawrence Jul 24 '18 at 16:44
  • I've considered writing a book or story in which British characters' dialog is spelled in BrE fashion, and American characters' dialog is spelled in AmE fashion. For example, in a chapter where a British art critic and his American counterpart are talking, I would have the Brit say, "Rembrandt's use of colour here is remarkable", and I would have the Yank reply, "Yes, I've always admired his sense of color." – tautophile Jul 24 '18 at 17:32
  • That might add colo/u/r to the read but the audio version wouldn't work too well :-). – S Conroy Jul 24 '18 at 17:38

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.