1. Pheonix
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    Pheonix A Singer of Space Operas and The Fourth Mod of RP Staff Contributor

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    Z or S?

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Pheonix, Aug 2, 2012.

    Okay, i've been noticing lately that a lot people spell certain words differently than I've always been taught. A few examples: Organization - Organisation. Realizing - Realising. Its this correct? Is it a colloquial spelling, mass misspelling, or have I been deceived my entire life by teachers, spell checkers, and the dictionary?
     
  2. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Spelling those words with a "z" is an American thing. Most other English-speaking countries use an "s". Either way is correct.
     
  3. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    British versus American spelling. Probably.
     
  4. Lemontine13
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    Lemontine13 Member

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    USA spelling uses the "Z" and UK spelling uses the "S" - it looks like you're from the USA so I would stick with the Z :)
     
  5. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    As others have said, the difference is typically between US and UK (or Canadian or Australian) English.

    It's not quite as simple as Americans always throw in a 'z' where UK uses an 's', though, any more than saying UK spellers always stuff a 'u' between an 'o' and an 'r'. You have to know the correct spelling for your dialect. When in doubt, look it up. Fortunartely, regionally selective spell checkers do catch most of these locale-specific spelling variants.
     
  6. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    ditto that!
     
  7. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    In those cases it's a US v. British thing. There are a few groups of words where we Brits have traditionally used "ize" but lots of people couldn't remember which ones so "ise" is taking over completely here -- to the chagrin of pedants who knew the rules (and those who thought they did).
     
  8. Pheonix
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    Pheonix A Singer of Space Operas and The Fourth Mod of RP Staff Contributor

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    Thanks for clearing that up everyone! Anyone know why there is a spelling difference at all? Does it have to do with pronunciation, or is it just one of those cultural things that has no answer?
     
  9. E. C. Scrubb
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    E. C. Scrubb Active Member

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    While I don't know specifically, written language follows spoken language. So as pronunciations begin to change, so will the spelling over time.

    An upcoming example of this, in my opinion, is the word "issue." I would expect that at some point over the next fifty to seventy-five years, "issue" in the U.S. will end up being spelled ishue, unless other things arise.

    One other thing is influence. Something like 30-50 percent of the French language has cognates in the English language, so the spellings tend to be similar at some point. My guess is, since we are much further removed (by an ocean), and also not influenced by internal French speaking states (as Canada is - with Quebec [a province, I know]), American English has developed along a different path.
     
  10. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    I understand it was mainly down to Noah Webster, who decided to rationalise spelling when he compiled his classic dictionary. Deliberate attempts at language reform such as that are rarely successful, but Webster caught the right time and place for those changes to stick.
     
  11. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Z is American, S is British. Both are correct depending on who you're writing for :)

    But yeh if you wanna find out more about American/British English, best find some books on it or just make friends with a British person and you'll soon be discovering all kinds of new phrases.

    For example, I only realised a few days ago that "cheeky" is a British word. Found out last night "taking the mick" is also a British phrase. And today I found out my South African friend didn't even know "chips" could mean "crisps" because she's only ever known the British version of chips. So yeh, whole wide world out there! xD It's kinda fun to find out what kind of "normal words/phrases" are actually regional.

    Even amongst the Brits - I saw on this forum the other day, someone from northern England didn't know what "Wait up" meant, but I've heard it all my life down in East Anglia and Southern England. Mind you, I can't distinguish very well anymore 'cause I watch a lot of Hollywood.
     
  12. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Depends on how strongly you enforce it I guess. Look at simplified vs traditional Chinese :rolleyes:
     
  13. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't think that was particularly down to enforcement; the second phase of reform failed and had to be rescinded. I think that like Webster's reforms and the 1996 reform of the German language it just caught the spirit of the time -- and of course none of those has been universally accepted.
     
  14. EkkoJohnny
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    EkkoJohnny New Member

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    If you want to compare US and UK spellings, change the settings in your spellcheck. Your pages will light up like a christmas tree, but you'll see the differences right away and get back on track.
     

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