A common language separated by spelling


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Thread: A common language separated by spelling

  1. #1

    A common language separated by spelling

    I just read about someone struggling to get their refuse to the curb, and thought 'No, kerb.' I was wrong of course. They are American and curb is the correct spelling for the ledge at the side of the road, in England it is only used in the sense 'to curb one's impulses'.

    It is something that I often come across, to the degree that if I make a spelling correction in a crit I will include the proviso, "Unless, of course, that is the normal American spelling."

    How about giving us some more examples? Then there are the spellings that have crossed the Atlantic to replace a native one. And how about you Aussies, South Africans, Canadians etc. Do you have any spellings I might not recognise?

    I suspect there will be quite a few where an ancient pronunciation or meaning has led to a non-intuitive spelling that is rationalised, but I bet there are some others like kerb/curb as well.
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  2. #2
    Canadians tend to be half-way between the US and UK - like, we spell it "curb", but we add the extra "u".

    I seem to recall having learned that standardized spelling (even at the national level) is a fairly new phenomenon. Not sure where I read that, though...

  3. #3
    Colour is Color in America
    Humour is Humor
    Theatre is Theater

    Most of what I see is really about the pronunciation or word use.
    Words with huge difference in pronunciation:
    Aluminum
    Harass
    Garage

    In the UK you may hear an educated person use the term Reckon. But in the US, it is either used by hillbillies, or people mimicking hillbillies.

  4. #4
    aluminum is missing a British i and it's pronounced differently too.

    Key wouldn't be a word you would normally associate with this thread, except that Americans also use it in place of the British quay, a place where boats are kept on the water.

    There are innumerable words where e and r are swapped around and where Americans drop the u.

    EDIT: And what about that actress Farrah Tap Majors.


  5. #5
    I've mentioned this before, but a lot of this blame on Webster's dictionary (1842 edition, I think).
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  6. #6
    Being an American immigrant to Canada, I am forever mixing my British and U.S. spellings: centre/center, neighbour/neighbor, colour/color. After 43 years living in Canada I still pronounce "schedule" as sked-ule instead of shed-ule, and "process" as prah-cess instead of prow-cess. Although no longer dawl my "i"s.

  7. #7
    I reckon that sort of pronunciation difference is very common, regional pronunciation and word usage is obvious right across the UK. , not just across the Atlantic.

    There I g
    The sad thing is that the text must work for the scammers, or they wouldn't do it. Send out, say, 100,000, get a 10% return. Draw, say, $500 cash advance from 10,000 cards = $5 000 000. Not a bad return for a few hours work! Hmmm o, using 'reckon' like an Englishman. Some pedants would argue my use is 'wrong' in that it does not involve numbers, which is what 'to reckon' is. I wouldn't go with that, but it is interesting that words may also have different meanings, not just spellings.
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  8. #8
    Oh yeah, words have different meanings on different sides of the pond. I had some very embarrassing moments my first couple months in the U.K.

  9. #9
    When I see signs that say: 'WAY OUT', I usually mumble... 'Yeah, far out dude'.
    When I see a sign 'TO LET', my mind usually turns it into 'TOILET'.

    My partner likes watching The Great British Baking Show (I don't understand why because she never bakes anything) - but I've learned that 'sponge' in British is 'cake' in American. An American 'sponge' is what I use to wash the dishes.

    Don't get me started about how many times I get into the wrong side of the car, then sit there for a confused moment wondering what happened to the steering wheel.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by TL Murphy View Post
    Oh yeah, words have different meanings on different sides of the pond. I had some very embarrassing moments my first couple months in the U.K.
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