Over the past 200 years, American spellings have begun to influence the way people spell in other parts of the world. Once, we would have seen only ‘encyclopaedias’ in Britain, with an spelling. Today, we more often find ‘encyclopedias’, with an . That’s an American usage which has caught on. When working with computers, most people in Australia and New Zealand use the
American spellings ‘program’, ‘hard disk’, and ‘analog’ instead of ‘programme’, ‘hard disc’, and ‘analogue’. While Noah Webster was trying to tidy up American spelling, people in Britain were trying to sort out British spelling. In the eighteenth century, lots of words were still being spelled in more than one way, such as ‘raindeer’ and ‘reindeer’, ‘error’ and ‘errour’, or ‘music’ and ‘musick’. Samuel Johnson compiled a huge dictionary in 1755, and many of his choices of spellings became accepted because the printing-houses used them. For instance, thanks to him, we now spell ‘receipt’ with a (not ‘receit’) and ‘entire’ with an (not ‘intire’). On the other hand, not all of his choices were taken up. He wanted all words ending in a to be spelled , and that definitely didn’t catch on. We write ‘comic’ and ‘music’ today, not ‘comick’ and ‘musick’.
P59 Crystal, David.(2010). A Little Book of Language. Sydney: University of New South Wales Press Ltd
the equator the Equator
Sometimes the spelling we use depends on the meaning. We buy a ‘theatre programme’ but a ‘computer program’. When you read through a book, you won’t notice these variations. That’s because a copy-editor has gone through the text, before it is published, to make sure that any words with alternative spellings appear in the same form. If a writer was writing a novel and he/ she wrote a sentence like this, you’d probably...