American or British Spelling

Last updated on June 24th, 2015 at 01:31 am

A dozen years ago I was a publisher of childrens and adult non-fiction books. That role allowed me to set editorial policy on spelling and style usage. We decided to follow the lead of the Macquarie Dictionary as the leading arbiter of Australian English.

We?d discuss and debate the correct or preferred spelling of words. Normally I?d push for rewriting the piece to avoid the problem words.

One funny point was the assumption that Americans spelled things wrongly. Specifically the belief that the omission of the penultimate u in word ending in -our. In simpler terms we?re talking about humour, humor; favour, favor; colour, color and so on.

Interestingly at the time the Macquarie dictionary was showing the American spelling as correct but not as widely used.

Most Commonwealth citizens assumed American English was just a slothful and illiterate simplification of the Queen?s English. At the time I came across some research that the American War of Independence predated the standardisation of English. I wish I could find that research now.

Today I came across H.L. Mencken?s The American Language: An Inquiry into the Development of English in the United States.

There?s a fascinating chapter on American Spelling and the Influence of Webster.

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