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Thread: NZ vs US vs British English: -ize, -ise

  1. #1
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    Default NZ vs US vs British English: -ize, -ise

    US spelling?

    As has been said before on the forum (by me, here http://www.enz.org/forum/archive/ind...30160-p-2.html)...

    And while we're having another tour of British/American spelling... '-ize' and '-ization' are not 'American spellings', despite what many British people may have been told by their primary school teachers. (All that follows can be found in the Oxford English Dictionary - I didn't make it up.)

    Back in the days (around 1600) when printing was gaining ground, and spelling was becoming standardized rather than a matter of personal choice, it was normal to use the 'z', standing as it did/does for the noise pronounced when speaking those words. The few writers among the settlers who went to America took this with them, and it continues in use there. It also continued in use in the UK, in the few institutions using written English at the time - the old universities, the church and the law. (Literacy was comparatively rare.)

    Somewhat later, seizing a marketing opportunity, people in the UK started up newspapers aimed at the masses only then being encouraged to learn to read. This coincided with there being an influence on the language from French, where there are a lot of words derived from Latin which use '-ise' and '-isation', not originally having a letter 'z', and the new publishers, not being part of the old learned group, latched onto that spelling with 's', so people who were the first readers of their family picked that up.

    So within the UK, there were then (and are still) two streams of spelling on this point - the original one with 'z' coming down from the old universities (which you're likely to get drilled into you if you study in one of them, if you turn up not doing it), and the newer one with 's' coming from the first popular culture. They're both right. Again, despite what your primary teacher may have told you, there are huge numbers of possible correct variations in English spelling. If you write for publication in English, you get to know that different publishers have a preferred 'house style' covering various choices, and you have to alter your stuff to fit, regardless of what you naturally do depending on what you first learnt.

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    Soooo many people think -ize is an Americanism; it's not!


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    Quote Originally Posted by JandM View Post
    US spelling?

    As has been said before on the forum (by me, here http://www.enz.org/forum/archive/ind...30160-p-2.html)...
    But that is theory isn't it??

    Ask one hundred people worlwide today about -ize and -ise!!

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    Quote Originally Posted by ralf-nz View Post
    But that is theory isn't it??

    Ask one hundred people worlwide today about -ize and -ise!!
    That's the tyranny of the majority; I'd rather be correct.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JandM View Post
    US spelling?
    .
    favors, behaviors, behavior...


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    Quote Originally Posted by Chiba View Post
    That's the tyranny of the majority; I'd rather be correct.
    "Majority" by which measure?

    You will always be correct as long as your argument is good (enough).

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    Just as a drive-by recommendation, if you're interested in New Zealand English then "Living language : exploring Kiwitalk" by Elizabeth Gordon may be of interest.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chiba View Post
    Soooo many people think -ize is an Americanism; it's not
    This is of course a matter of perception - worldwide!

    Also, wikipedia is not really a relevant source per se. It can lead to one but needs to be substantiated by primary sourcrs.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ralf-nz View Post
    "Majority" by which measure?

    You will always be correct as long as your argument is good (enough).
    Mmm, not really; you'll always be correct as long as your argument is valid and sound.

    In this case, the use of -ise or -ize, it's difficult to form a valid argument using informal logic. Even the English Spelling Society[1] is still flogging the patch of bare earth where the stain of a long dead horse once rotted, i.e.

    The <-ise, ize> Dilemma.
    Editors in English face the question whether to spell words like organise with <-ise> or <-ize>. America, The Times, the Oxford University Press and Collins prefer <ize>, but Britain otherwise mainly writes <-ise>. The uncertainty arose from disagreement about derivation. If the suffix is seen as deriving directly from Greek <-izein> (-ιξειν), Greek zeta <ξ> transcribes into Roman <z>; but if the words concerned are seen as arriving via French, the French <s> (organiser) might be chosen. The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary says: "The suffix, whatever the element to which it is attached, is in its origin Greek, and as the pronunciation is also with z there is no reason why the French spelling should ever be followed." This Journal has hitherto preferred <z>, but only for phonographic, not etymological, reasons: the ending <-ize> unambiguously represents the pronunciation and distinguishes it from the ending of precise. However for spelling reformers there is a counter-argument. Some words with this ending are never spelt with <-ize> because they derive from a Latin or Germanic root using <s>: rise, advise, surprise, advertise, compromise etc. Then there are Greek-derived words like analyse, paralyse which go back to the root analysis etc., which in Greek uses unvoiced sigma <σ>, not voiced zeta. Collins and Oxford prefer analyse but Webster has analyze. So which form should spelling reformers prefer, phonographic <-ize>, with a whole string of exceptions, or ambiguous <-ise>, with fewer and perhaps more manageable exceptions (unvoiced treatise, precise and a few words always spelt with <z>, prize, size, capsize)? Should reformers anticipate a time when all voiced sibilants would be spelt <z>, and accept the awkward exceptions for the present, or should we give priority to the problems of present users, for whom standard <-ise> would be easier to learn and use correctly?

    [1] Yes, happily for all of us such an institution does indeed exist.

  10. #10
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    Yep, please translate good into valid and sound.

    And also, yes I studied my - more than fair bit of French and Greek!

    However you cannot not undo what is now worldwide perceived!

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