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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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6
votes
5answers
54k views

Can “nighttime” be used instead of “night-time”?

I forgot where but I saw the word "night-time" written like "nighttime". Now is that correct or accepted? Can it be written as a single word? I am specifically concerned about British usage. I did ...
0
votes
1answer
41 views

Capitalizing the first letter of each word in letter greeting [on hold]

I have searched for an answer on the site, but all the questions I have found (e.g. this one) seem to be less general. Assuming that I'm writing a cover letter to join a team working on a project ...
4
votes
4answers
4k views

“strain gauge” or “gage”?

When referring to a device that measures tensile or compressive force, is the correct spelling strain gauge or strain gage? I realize that in general gage is an archaic spelling of the word gauge, ...
5
votes
4answers
4k views

Why drop the “i” in “explanation”?

I often catch myself trying to write ?explaination, phonetically spelling the word in my head. To my chagrin I get part way through and have to stop myself. So I’m wondering why is the i dropped? I ...
22
votes
9answers
102k views

How do you spell wifi / Wi-Fi / WiFi?

This is probably related to whether one should capitalize Internet or not. I am looking for the correct spelling of wifi when referring to a wireless connection to the Internet. I want to tell the ...
14
votes
6answers
23k views

Why is “liquorice” pronounced (or spelt) so strangely?

Liquorice is pronounced ˈlɪkərɪʃ. But every other word I can think of ending with -ice is pronounced differently (such as police or rice). How did liquorice get such a strange pronunciation, or ...
10
votes
2answers
1k views

'-ible' suffix vs. '-able' suffix

This question comes about because I usually always spell the word incorrectly and the spell checker underlines in red the word: compatible. In my head, I always want to spell it compatable, and my ...
3
votes
1answer
7k views

Locater vs Locator spelling [duplicate]

I can find references to each in many online dictionaries, but few will reference both of them. So the question remains: What is with the difference in spelling between "Locator" and "Locater"? Is ...
285
votes
1answer
365k views

When should I use an em-dash, an en-dash, and a hyphen?

I generally know how to use a hyphen, but when should I use an en-dash (–) instead of an em-dash, or when should I use a hyphen (-) instead of an em-dash (—)?
7
votes
5answers
1k views

How is “erm” pronounced in the UK, and why is it spelled that way?

I see the interjection "erm" written in internet forum posts fairly often, and I have occasionally seen it in British novels, in opinion pieces and articles on cultural topics in newspapers and ...
4
votes
2answers
164 views

Why is ‘Earth’ often spelt with a lowercase e, even when referring to the planet?

The word earth has several meanings; the most central one is ‘soil, dirt’, that thing we walk on when we’re outside. It’s also used as a name for the planet we live on. The Lexico definition for this ...
6
votes
3answers
784 views

Spelling etymology of “-il[l]” words

I've noticed that modern English seems to have a very strong bias at the end of verbs towards the spelling "-ill" (i.e. with a double "l") instead of "-(consonant)-il". The overwhelming majority of ...
0
votes
2answers
137 views

Spelling of helium vs beryllium

Why is one of those spelled with a single L and not the other? For the etymology of Beryllium name it's unclear but could be either Greek or Latin, and Helium is named after Helios (so Greek here).
2
votes
1answer
538 views

Is “mediaeval” an outdated spelling of “medieval”?

I saw "mediaeval" on a Wikipedia page, and figuring it was a typo, edited it to "medieval", it was reverted as apparently mediaeval is the UK spelling. However, in all the dictionaries I've found from ...
0
votes
0answers
23 views

Macroregional or Macro-Regional?

I have searched for the correct spelling of "macroregional / macro-regional" on the Internet, but there are used both variants (sometimes even on the same website). Wiktionary spells it as "...
0
votes
0answers
44 views

Is “anymore” a word? [duplicate]

Quite often when I type the word "anymore" in software featuring built-in spell check, I get the following kind of warning: (this one is courtesy of TortoiseGit). i.e., the "anymore" word gets ...
10
votes
7answers
2k views

Why does English omit diacritics on foreign names?

Why does English omit diacritics from foreign names that still use the Latin alphabet? For example, why are the Czech tennis player Tomáš Berdych, the Norwegian crime writer Jo Nesbø, or the Polish ...
1
vote
2answers
40k views

Nana or Nanna? (When Referring to Grandmother)

So, according to the Oxford Dictionary (English Dictionary), Nana is defined as one's grandmother, and Nanna redirects to Nana. According to Dictionary.com (American Dictionary), Nana is one's ...
1
vote
1answer
45 views

Should a semicolon be used before both a coordinating conjunction and a conjunctive adverb?

Please see: http://academics.smcvt.edu/writingctr/semicolons.htm for reference. Now I understand that a semicolon could be used before a conjunctive adverb (eg: also, furthermore, therefore, etc..) ...
0
votes
1answer
41 views

Hyphenate wrap-around porch? [duplicate]

I do not know if it is correct to use a hyphen between the words wrap, and around, in describing a porch that wraps around a house.
2
votes
1answer
248 views

“miss assessed” “miss-assessed” or “misassessed”?

I googled this, and I am getting ambiguous results. In books, even in legal documents, I can find examples of "misassess", "miss assess" and "miss-assess". What is the correct way to spell this verb? ...
7
votes
4answers
2k 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”?
2
votes
2answers
153 views

Using a designer's name or brand name as a substitute for the product itself

Example: A character owns a pair of Sophia Loren sunglasses. Before going out for the afternoon, "She drew on her Sophia Loren’s, flipped her long mane back, and tossed him a cheeky grin." If I'm not ...
0
votes
1answer
59 views

Is there a Word to describe Words that have Differing Masculine and Feminine Forms?

Granted that English has few such words, blond/blonde and fiancé/fiancée are the only ones that immediately come to mind. Apart from calling them "words with gender-specific forms", the closest I've ...
1
vote
1answer
2k views

An e in “absured”?

A few paragraphs in to Chapter 3 of "How to win friends and influence people"—a book that I'm embarrassed to admit I've undertaken—I found what just appears to be an odd spelling for "absurd." ...
-3
votes
1answer
27k views

Height and weight written out

In formal writing I like to do this (in British style): The infant weighed 10lb 5oz; a 10lb 5oz infant He was 6ft 3in tall; a 6ft 3in man My question is about the plural usage: do we ...
3
votes
1answer
192 views

Why does the word “school” contain an 'h'?

Considering the low prevalence of words in English written with the letter combination "sch", why is the word "school" written the way it is, rather than simply "scool"? As far as I could tell, the ...
2
votes
4answers
6k views

What's up with the hyphen in “orang-utan”?

For most of my life 'till about a couple of years ago, I had only seen the spelling orangutan written to describe those delightful red-headed apes from the tropical forests of Borneo. Lately, though, ...
1
vote
1answer
48 views

Rase: another spelling of raze (literary) [closed]

Is the spelling using s as opposed to z really literary as the Microsoft® Encarta® 2009 purportedly explains? Raze 1. completely destroy place: to destroy or level a building or settlement ...
0
votes
2answers
65 views

Can “either” be used as an adverb, and if so does it require, allow, or prohibit the use of a comma when so used?

Can either be used as an adverb, and if so, does it always take a comma when it is? And is the following statement correct in congruence with my question? I believe there is some mistake that I don't ...
6
votes
1answer
267 views

How did “Papa” become “Pope”?

Pope, according to Etymonline is from: Old English papa (9c.), from Church Latin papa "bishop, pope" (in classical Latin, "tutor"), from Greek papas "patriarch, bishop," originally "father." ...
4
votes
1answer
44 views

What is it called when a prefix moved back for alphabetic sorting purposes?

I have seen this many times, but I am not sure what to call this. For example, the People's Republic of China is often written as China, People's Republic of. Thanks in advance!
171
votes
1answer
558k views

What's the difference between “requester” and “requestor”?

Both are in dictionaries. I've heard people insist "requester" is correct for a person who requests something, and that "requestor" is wrong there, leaving me to wonder how it is used. Requestor ...
13
votes
2answers
3k views

How did “ordnance” lose the “i”?

All the dictionaries and etymology sites I've checked say that the word ordnance, meaning weapons and ammunition, was derived from ordinance, which means a regulation or law. Etymonline says that the ...
1
vote
0answers
31 views

Comma - American versus British, Really? [duplicate]

So, from my writing infancy, my High School Teacher Mom taught me never to place a comma before the conjunction in any list of more than 2 things and yet there seems to be quite some debate about it, ...
3
votes
6answers
3k views

What's with the apostrophe in the standard spelling of the idiom “how's about”?

A recent question on EL&U asks Is it correct to use "how's" as short for "how does"? I have a series of tangentially related questions about a fairly common (in American ...
0
votes
0answers
20 views

Should I put a comma after “well”? [duplicate]

Good news. Peter is doing well(,) considering the circumstances.
0
votes
2answers
53 views

regarding the correct/incorrect use of the comma [duplicate]

There is a building which is taller than all others known as the Burj Khalifa. Is a comma necessary after "others", which makes the sentence: There is a building which is taller than all others, ...
0
votes
2answers
136 views

“One of my friends'” or “One of my friends's”? [closed]

When specifying possession, my understanding is that one adds an apostrophe if modifying a plural ending with an 's', or adds apostrophe followed by an s if not. How does one specify possession of one ...
0
votes
1answer
36 views

What's the proper plural for file extensions? [duplicate]

I have one .msi. Then I get another. Do I now have: two .msis or two .msi's or two '.msi's or something else?
7
votes
2answers
1k views

Other special hyphenation examples than eight-teen

According to The TeXbook [Don Knuth, 1984], solution to Exercise 14.8, the word eighteen should be hyphenated eight-teen. It is, indeed, standard practice in pre-reform German to contract triple ...
25
votes
3answers
5k views

Why is there an extra “t” in Lemmatization?

When we say : Specify, it becomes Specification (no t) Value, it becomes Valuation (no t) Custom, it becomes Customization (no t) Lemma is a code used in programming, to describe the ...
1
vote
0answers
39 views

What is the correct use of hyphens and capitals in “Big Brother style pop competition”? [duplicate]

Not sure it technically should have any, but a Big Brother style pop competition feels like quite a mouthful as it is so I’m wondering whether hyphens might help. Also want to check the ...
0
votes
3answers
116 views

Trade marks or trademarks?

What is the correct format to use when referring to trademarks in British English? Is "trademarks" generally preferable? I've seen both used in different contexts, the UK GOV page uses "trade marks", ...
1
vote
1answer
83 views

What is the plural form of musical score?

The title of a Spotify playlist from Disney is "Disney Score To Study To". The name surprised me because I would have thought it would be titled "Disney Scores To Study To". Seeing as this is an ...
28
votes
5answers
875 views

Is it Web site or website?

Future Perfect's "Is it Web site or website?" states: Since the World Wide Web is a proper noun, we use initial upper-case letters, as we would with your surname, for example. As for ...
1
vote
1answer
739 views

Propagatable vs propagable?

propagatable vs propagable Which one is correct? I've seen both in usage.
6
votes
1answer
149 views

The spelling “ui” and the pronunciation /uː/ in juice, fruit, bruise, cruise, sluice, suit, nuisance, recruit, bruit

The words juice, fruit, bruise, cruise, sluice, suit, pursuit, suitcase, lawsuit, nuisance, recruit, bruit are spelled with ui and pronounced with the IPA phoneme /uː/. Full pronunciations from OED: ...
0
votes
2answers
50 views

spelling the word Resemblance with E

I came across 'resemblance' spelled as 'resemblence' in a set of Proficiency tests printed by Cambridge University Press. Since this spelling was kind of an eyesore, I looked it up and never found any ...
31
votes
2answers
18k views

When do you use “learnt” and when “learned”?

Is learnt UK English and learned US? Is it that simple? I’m used to using learnt, but my US spellchecker says it is wrong.