Spelt or spelled? How do you spell?

I realized something, most of my friends and I have started spelling words the American way, which spells ‘organization’ and not ‘organisation’ and ‘color’ not ‘colour’. Thats a little weird because in India we follow the UK English and not North American English. I’m guessing it is because we use MS Word so much, whose default spell check follows NA English. It is sometimes easier to correct the spelling with the default suggestion than to change the spell check’s language. In fact since most codes are written in the US, nearly every spell checker’s default language is always American English, including the firefox’s spell check extension and the spell check in the text editors of blogs. In fact WordPress doesn’t give the option of changing it to any other English.

Its really interesting to see how technology has influenced language in such a subtle way.  I couldn’t find any stats on usage statistics of UK English and American English. I’m pretty sure before this century UK English was more common than American English.

I wonder what English the Chinese use, since China will soon have the world’s largest English speaking population.

Thinking about technology influencing language, a major change has because of texting and IMing, where speed counts. So vowels r lft out in ne wrd wth mor thn 4 lttrs. All over the world English teachers are tearing their hair out over essays written with SMS spelling. I remember last year a school in the UK, allowed students to write in SMS form and accepted submissions SMSed from a phone!

Techcrunch has this article which says, half of Japan’s highest selling books were composed on mobile phones!  

Hw cul is tht!

13 Responses to “Spelt or spelled? How do you spell?”

  1. December 18, 2007 at 4:34 pm

    Nice Post. Valid point.
    Aww.. Who am I kidding.
    Put mine on your blogroll Goddammit! 🙂

  2. 2 Sashi Kanth
    January 8, 2008 at 12:23 am

    I’m very particular with using UK English. I correct everybody who says color and i SHOUT at ppl who say mul-ty instead of mul-tee 😛

  3. January 8, 2008 at 1:11 am

    same here most times. UK English only.

  4. April 1, 2008 at 12:45 pm


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  5. 5 Nina
    August 25, 2008 at 11:52 pm

    I think UK English should be used and not American English as it is called. Where did American English come from in the first place? Obviously England. The Americans speak English, they have just changed some of the spelling to suit themselves and called it the American language. It makes me mad that there are more and more people in this country that are starting to spell and speak like the Americans. Where is their pride in their country and their language. If the people in America were to speak Chinese or Russian or some other language, would they change the spelling and call it American Chinese, or American Russian, etc. I don’t think so. And if they did I wonder if the Chinese or Russians would change the spelling of their language to suit the Americans.

    • 6 taichungrider
      September 10, 2009 at 2:27 am

      Actually, the (communist)Chinese DID change the ‘spelling’ of their words (characters)!

      Remember, the original Republic of China (ROC) fled to Taiwan (still there today) when the Communists(remember Mao) took over China. After taking China, the communists decided the best way to control a nation (..my opinion), is if every citizen can understand the same language (since China is actually made up of different ethnic groups and tribes who speak their own languages) In order to speed things up, they simplified the characters, thereby changing their ‘spelling’ completely!

      People who say they are ‘Chinese’ normally mean they are from the ‘Chinese’ ethnic group, and not necessarily meaning they are from China….so you therefore get two different kinds of Chinese (people) with two completely different opinions when it comes to ‘spelling’ (Mandarin) Chinese. One side says the Simplified Chinese is more economical and easier on students, and the other says the Traditional Chinese characters are more beautiful and their etymological origin is more plain for students to see and understand. The latter group complains that the Simplified Characters are ugly and more confusing ….. since they look ‘naked'(something’s missing after being simplified), and they are often over-simplified!

      So, yes, the Chinese would probably change their spelling if they set up shop in America and left their motherland/fatherland. Interviewing this imaginary American-Chinese, I’d expect he/she would believe THEIR spelling was the correct one, and everyone else was blowing smoke out their …!

      PS – I realize this reply is one year too late, but think it might still find an audience, however small!

  6. September 9, 2008 at 1:10 am

    I share your frustration with American English being the standard across the Web. Thankfully, one can now download international spelling dictionaries for Firefox (I have mine set to Canadian English now).

    Be careful not to confuse “American English/US English” with “North American English” … Canada is in North America, too, and its variant of English is much more similar to UK English than US English. There are subtle differences to both variants, though.

  7. 8 Rachel
    October 11, 2008 at 12:27 am

    I know that it may seem that Americans just change their English to “suit themselves”, but I think that the actual reason for the changes is just natural variation. If you go to Canada, you’ll notice a difference between their English and the English of the US. This isn’t a conscious change, it’s just something that happens over time. Once again people really like to think of people in the US as self-serving when I think things like this are actually very reasonable.

  8. 9 Matthew
    February 21, 2010 at 2:37 pm

    The default for MS Word is not North American English. It’s American English, as in the United States of America. Canadian English has words like ‘colour’, ‘centre’, ‘theatre’ in common with British convention and words like ‘tire’ and ‘curb’ in common with Americans, although that’s beside the point that what you meant (or should have meant) to say was ‘American’ or ‘United States’.

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