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Questions tagged [orthography]

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

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23 votes
5 answers
4k views

Is the ‘t’ in ‘witch’ considered a silent t?

I was under the impression that because ‘witch’ ends with a /tʃ/ sound, the ‘t’ is not silent but directly represents an essential element of the pronunciation. However, a word game (the New York ...
76987's user avatar
  • 355
0 votes
1 answer
81 views

"unparseable" vs. "unparsable" [closed]

What is the correct spelling of this word? See the discussion at (Codespell) false positive: unparseable.
Polluks's user avatar
  • 103
4 votes
3 answers
254 views

Term for pronouncing every letter, like t in water

Native USA English speakers frequently skip (or elide?) certain letters, like the t in water, and modify others. What is a term for someone who (self-consciously?) pronounces every voiceable letter? P....
Richard Haven's user avatar
1 vote
1 answer
90 views

Bell crank, bell-crank or bellcrank? [duplicate]

Which of the following versions of the same word is best to use for documents written in international and American English? Bell crank Bell-crank Bellcrank I tried to trawl the internet for an ...
Wojciech's user avatar
1 vote
0 answers
34 views

Over Achieved vs. Overachieved [closed]

Can these be spelled both ways? Or overachieved is the only correct way?
eugenekgn's user avatar
  • 119
2 votes
0 answers
34 views

Spelling convention of past tense from <-'d> to <-ed>, when did this change happen [duplicate]

Doing some historical corpus research right now and I am noticing the spelling convention in LModE of realizing the past tense with an apostrophe quite regularly, such as in walk'd rather than walked. ...
user avatar
0 votes
3 answers
175 views

Why does "consecutive" have a 'c' instead of a 'q'?

The etymology of the word shows it comes from the Latin consequi, to follow after, which is an origin of the word sequential as well. So why is consecutive not spelled consequtive, or why is ...
Austin Hill's user avatar
0 votes
0 answers
49 views

Treating Medieval text/poem's name according to Chicago

Republishing a work from the '50s where the author references a medieval text, a poem, with a Latin title that is otherwise written in Middle English, and now must present it in a manner that conforms ...
Typothalamus's user avatar
1 vote
1 answer
224 views

Is it unacceptable to start the second clause of a semicolon with a number?

I know it's generally frowned upon to start a sentence with a number encoded by Arabic numerals, e.g. "4 percent of people live in the USA". Is it okay to do this for the second clause ...
Monolith's user avatar
  • 237
6 votes
2 answers
2k views

What does 'shyme' mean?

Reading Dracula, I found this sentence: It’s a shyme that people are allowed to top their walls with broken bottles In no dictionary was I able to find a definition; ChatGPT says that it is a ...
Pierre-olivier Gendraud's user avatar
1 vote
0 answers
139 views

Why does 'we' have one 'e' while 'see' has two?

I am wondering why the words me and we have one 'e', even though the word see has two.
Amy's user avatar
  • 11
1 vote
2 answers
149 views

Is the spelling 'judgment' a feature of American English? (As opposed to the other -dg[e]ment words?)

According to the the Oxford Learner’s Dictionary, the "e" is optional when a word ends in                "-dg(e)ment". Dictionary examples: acknowledgement {also acknowledgment} ...
Loviii's user avatar
  • 742
1 vote
1 answer
84 views

Is there a term for antonyms that are a small edit distance from each other?

I'm looking for examples of dramatic typos - where a minor edit can dramatically change the meaning of a phrase, and would like to know if there's a name for this phenomenon. Paronyms are a similar ...
Rhys Mills's user avatar
19 votes
3 answers
5k views

Why is Reuben spelled with an "eu"?

Reuben is most commonly spelled as such in English and in English only. The digraph "eu" as far as I know never represents /uː/ in English nor in any other language, and surely not in any ...
Enrico Bianchi's user avatar
-1 votes
2 answers
56 views

What is a more contemporary expelling of this excerpt from Turner? [closed]

The following quote is by Turner (1509 – 1568), and to me, the spelling is incomprehensible. If the passage is re-written using spelling rules closer to those rules used in the present day, then how ...
Toothpick Anemone's user avatar
1 vote
1 answer
149 views

If the English word "obliterate" really comes from Latin "oblitteratus" (erased, forgotten), why is there no double t in the English word? [closed]

The English word "obliterate" allegedly comes from Latin "oblitteratus" (erased, forgotten), itself from "ob-" (against) and "littera" (letter of the alphabet). ...
FlatAssembler's user avatar
1 vote
0 answers
110 views

Do you capitalize words after mentioning a book with a punctuation mark in it?

If someone uses the name of a book/object with punctuation in it, does one need to capitalize the word after? Do I write: In the book Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? the main character... Or In the ...
Fedor Scheglov's user avatar
4 votes
2 answers
399 views

What is the word for the fusing of, for example, "-ed" and the final consonant "d" to give the ending (with voice removed) of "bent"?

Instead of giving the past tense form bended, the verb bend fuses together bend and -ed and removes voice, producing bent. Lent and sent are produced in similar fashion. What's the word for the fusion ...
ool's user avatar
  • 151
4 votes
2 answers
184 views

Was the o in "go" and oe in "toe" pronounced differently in early 19th century Gloucestershire English?

No modern dialect makes the <o> and <oe> distinction, but when reading Medhurst's Hokkien dictionary of 1832 i came across (page 34) Furthermore, <o> seems to be a monophthong and &...
iamanigeeit's user avatar
0 votes
0 answers
71 views

Historical pronunciations

Is there a unified resource that gives the pronunciation of an English word according to how those most responsible for establishing its current spelling would have pronounced it?
Jeh's user avatar
  • 457
1 vote
0 answers
63 views

Is the word Physics singular? [closed]

Is the word Physics singular or plural? Should we write "Physics considers" or "Physics consider"?
user avatar
6 votes
3 answers
1k views

Why did the /ʌ/ or /ʊ/ vowel in the Latin fundāre become the /aʊ/ of foundation?

Foundation has its origins in the Latin: OED fundātiōn-em. < Latin fundātiōn-em, noun of action < fundāre
FlatAssembler's user avatar
3 votes
1 answer
182 views

Why did English take the "mix pronunciations and spellings" route instead of one rule route like French, or separate languages/dialects like Spanish? [closed]

Like the multiple pronunciations of "ough" or different spellings for the same sounds in English I've read come from mixing different dialects into one language. Whereas with French, they ...
user avatar
1 vote
0 answers
61 views

Etymology of the "Mc" on last names [duplicate]

I what taught that my last name which starts the Mc that the c should be above the symbol =, does anyone know what this means? I can not really type it out on a key board but if you write it out with ...
user483170's user avatar
0 votes
3 answers
216 views

Should there be a space after an em dash if the dash is used to cut off the end of a sentence and a new sentence begins afterwards?

Usually an em dash is used without any spaces on either side, especially when the punctuation is in the middle of a sentence. However, how should it be used if it were used at the end, such as when it'...
user483019's user avatar
0 votes
1 answer
294 views

How to remember "–ance" vs. "–ence" spellings? [duplicate]

The linked 'duplicate' question asked for a 'rule', which usually means something unambiguous that is built into the grammar, and the answer was no. I am specifically asking if anyone can suggest a ...
callum's user avatar
  • 1,012
2 votes
0 answers
84 views

Why is the English word "pepper" spelt with a double 'p' when it comes from Latin "piper" (with no double 'p')? [closed]

The English word "pepper" comes from Latin word "piper". But why is there a double 'p' in the English word, when there is no double 'p' in the Latin word? Where does the English ...
FlatAssembler's user avatar
1 vote
0 answers
24 views

Why is it spelled "for completeness' sake" and not "for completeness's sake"? [duplicate]

Why is it spelled "for completeness' sake" and not "for completeness's sake" Isn't the apostrophe at the end only for plural?
Jencel's user avatar
  • 139
-1 votes
1 answer
468 views

Where is "comparision" as spelling of "comparison" coming from?

From time to time I encounter comparision as common "alternative" spelling for comparison (mostly while browsing questions on Stack Overflow). I don't recall encountering any other (mis)...
mkrieger1's user avatar
  • 101
-2 votes
1 answer
116 views

Are all variants of English spelling basically British or American? [closed]

I am working on an English-language online resource. It seems an obvious good idea to allow users to choose a version in British English or American English spelling. However, I've noticed that spell-...
English.McEnglishface's user avatar
0 votes
1 answer
665 views

Is [Pre-Populates, Pre Populates, Prepopulates] a word?

[Pre-Populates, Pre Populates, Prepopulates] Simple at first but after some research I can't actually find much on this. Background/Context: I need to write some sort of tech specification and the ...
Shaun Moore's user avatar
0 votes
0 answers
24 views

Ships' stores or ship's stores? [duplicate]

How do I write this correctly? When I use Google, 'ship's stores' seem to be used the most. But an official government website from Canada writes it as 'ships' stores'. Which is correct? Thank you!
Gerlof Leuhof's user avatar
0 votes
1 answer
138 views

How to write s/he at the beginning of a sentence? [closed]

In a document I want to use the gender form of personal pronouns. But if I use "s/he" at the beginning of a sentence, are both "s" and "h" to be written in capitals? It ...
Peter Strouvelle's user avatar
-1 votes
1 answer
91 views

Handling alternate spellings of a personal name [closed]

Dealing with a text that mentions several times the architectural historian Siegfried Giedion. A number of Giedion's books feature his first name as "Sigfried" and others as "Siegfried.&...
Typothalamus's user avatar
14 votes
1 answer
3k views

Why was the Sanskrit word "laksha" anglicized to "lakh"?

This is something that I have been wondering about for a while, and I thought that I could ask about it here. I am unsure about whether this is strictly "on-topic" because it may be only ...
S. Kotenath's user avatar
3 votes
2 answers
148 views

Is there a word for letters that are shaped the same when capitalized or not?

The letters c/C, o/O, s/S, v/V, w/W, x/X, z/Z Are roughly congruently shaped from uppercase to lowercase. Depending on the font, there can be some serif differences but generally they have much less ...
PhunkyPhil's user avatar
6 votes
1 answer
702 views

What is the ‘‑ht vs ‑th’ grammar or spelling rule? [duplicate]

Some words end with ‑th while others end with ‑ht. For example: Height, weight, thought, drought, sleight, sight all end with ‑ht. Length, width, breadth, depth, wealth, girth, dearth all end with ‑...
Jeremaih Celestin's user avatar
0 votes
1 answer
87 views

What are all the orthographic rules for combining morphemes?

In my computational linguistics class, we talked about the complications with parsing English morphemes, and there was a list of orthographic rules for combining morphemes in the slides. consonant ...
awe lotta's user avatar
  • 140
1 vote
1 answer
70 views

What does this sentence in Nick Hornby’s “Fever Pitch” mean?

Charlie George is one of the few seventies icons who has so far managed to avoid being deconstructed, possibly because he appears at first glance to be one of the identikit George Best/Rodney Marsh/...
Blake's user avatar
  • 11
0 votes
1 answer
130 views

"Lite" used instead of "light" in pinball

In pinball instructions, I always come across the spelling "lite" being used instead of "light", e.g. "drop all targets to lite special". The practice persists to this ...
Ulrich Schreitmüller's user avatar
9 votes
1 answer
917 views

When is the old english letter Æ/æ modernised to A, E and AE?

The old english letter Æ/æ in various words have been modernised to either A (Æthelstan to Athelstan); E (Ælf to Elf, Æthelræd to Ethelred) and sometimes both A and E in the same word (Ælfræd to ...
asker2011's user avatar
  • 149
2 votes
4 answers
2k views

The origin of awesomesauce and weak sauce

John's awesomesauce weekend in Vegas ended prematurely. And he prayed with such authority that my prayers felt like weak sauce by comparison. How did the words awesomesauce and weak sauce originate ...
Free Palestine's user avatar
1 vote
0 answers
36 views

What is the most proper way to add -ing to acronyms? [duplicate]

Sometimes acronyms represent actions. For example, a Super Smash Bros. player may be said to be "DI-ing" (Directional influencing). In these situations, what would be the best-established ...
Passhonrippu on Twitch's user avatar
1 vote
1 answer
93 views

Is there an unambiguous grapheme for /aʊ/? [closed]

When reading a book I encountered the town/locality "Slough", which got me thinking about how it's one of many towns in Britain that are spelled confusingly (I'm looking at you Gloucester!). ...
Matt Chambers's user avatar
1 vote
0 answers
54 views

Why is flexible spelled with an "i"? [duplicate]

Why is "flexible" spelled with an "i"? My first instinct is to think that this word is describing something that is "able" to "flex", in the same way that "...
Rocketmagnet's user avatar
34 votes
7 answers
5k views

Why are "i.e." and "e.g." written in lower case with periods, while "NB" is typically written in CAPS with no periods?

According to my armchair research on common abbreviations of nota bene, it appears that NB is the most common now, with N.B. being more common in centuries past after taking over the "original&...
SO_fix_the_vote_sorting_bug's user avatar
1 vote
1 answer
59 views

How can the difference between the chemistry words of valence and valency be described as a spelling difference when it makes them sound so different?

How can the difference between the chemistry words of valence and valency be described as a spelling difference when it makes them sound so different? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Valence_(chemistry) ...
barlop's user avatar
  • 225
1 vote
1 answer
176 views

Were "Fell" and "Fel" both correct spellings?

I'm trying to describe evil magic and creatures to my players and to set the tone, I'm trying to use Middle and Old English words and phrases. After googling a while I couldn't find a definitive ...
Loki's user avatar
  • 11
0 votes
2 answers
127 views

Is there a term for a word that is written in a way that it looks like a word from another language?

I can't find it now but I remember seeing an English word written by a graphic designer in a way that made it look like a Russian word. I don't recall if the meaning of the Russian word was the same (...
professorofenlish's user avatar
2 votes
1 answer
144 views

Why are compound words not entirely consistent?

Some compound words are separated by a space (e.g. ice cream). Others are simply joined together (e.g. football, doorknob). Others still are hyphenated (e.g. long-term, off-topic). Why is the handling ...
user467410's user avatar

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