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Old 04-13-2011, 08:57 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Liverandbacon View Post
Oh by the way, I forgot to mention something. Many American English spellings are included in the OED. In fact, it prefers the American -ize to the 'proper' -ise.

The '-ize' is actually older, and '-ise' was adopted because the English wanted to be more like the French.
The '-ize' is older yes, but English is not a language that follows rules, it follows convention. The OED is not the Académie française and on issues such as 'ize' and 'ise' I think this very much down to what the individual prefers. British English frequently preserves the spelling not of the word at its etymological root -- as the more rational American English does -- but of younger versions, often representing the language from which the word entered English. Thus, your other example, 'colour' bears the marks of coming into English from Old French/Anglo-Norman colour and couleur. 'Color' is closer to the Latin, but in English is a newer spelling. The reason for its widespread use in America is probably because of Renaissance philology and 18th century rationalism. I believe one of Webster's aims in writing his dictionary was to harmonise the language, it's a goal Samuel Johnson shared.

Originally Posted by Liverandbacon View Post
Wait, I almost forgot! Aluminum is also older than 'Aluminium'!
It's a rather strange change but an understandable one given the fact that a lot of other elements end in -ium. Sodium, potassium, lithium etc.

Originally Posted by Liverandbacon View Post
Seems to me like America is the last bastion of proper English, while Britain let the language mutate because they wanted to be, of all things, more like the French.
American English is always rather fascinating because it stands as being at once more developed and less developed than British 'Standard' English. America has preserved phrases like 'I guess' -- which Chaucer uses! -- and the rather archaic 'gotten', both of which are making a come back on this side of the pond. But at the same time, America seems to have suffered a severe drought which has damaged its adverb harvest, particularly on the West Coast. 'He ran quick', 'I'm good', 'This is real important'.

The idea of there being a 'proper' English is a rather peculiar one, especially given the number of dialects in England alone -- both rural and urban. And that's discounting all the colonial dialects that are developing out there, coloured by native vocabulary, accent, and sentence structure. I think the preferred idea is one of 'Englishes'. There is naturally a 'Stardard English' in each country, but that is a point of necessity for ease of communication.

Gif þu wilt Englisc beon wiðutan ænig Frecisce word, then you may as well speak Old English and even that isn't without influence from French. Languages influence one another, it's a part of language evolution. Our language has been enriched a thousand times over by the adoption of countless foreign words into our lexicon, or word hoard, to be Germanic about it. -- News and features will be returning shortly...

I 'gin to be a-weary of the sun,
And wish the estate o' the world were now undone.

Last edited by Pavlos; 04-13-2011 at 09:09 PM.
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