Talk:British English

Is American English more right than British English? Or vice versa?

It's called "English" so the version spoken in "England" is obviously the "right" one. Anything else is a dialect, and not pure english. Obviously there are dialects spoken in england, but they are not normally written, all writing is in "queen's english". -- Tango

On Wikipedia, both are accepted. If it is a page about somewhere where British English is used, you should write in British English. If it is a page about somewhere where American English is used, you should write in American English. For other articles you can write in whichever style you want.
SimonMayer 20:01, 22 Mar 2004 (UTC)
Neither is more right than the other (whatever that could mean). Nor are either of them more right than South African English nor is South African English more right the New Zealand English and New Zealand English isn't more right than either British or American English. All dialects or dialect groups are equal. Jimp 01:09, 15 February 2007 (UTC)
It really doesn't matter, but English started in England, and America changed some words. So, I guess if you wanted to know which one is "better", I would say British English. Isis 16:12, 29 May 2007 (UTC)
No, that is in fact not correct. America did not "change some words" which suggests Britain "did not change those words" and therefore the British English is somehow "better." Frankly, the Wiki is what it is, but people who are more interested in their opinion than fact shouldn't be writing Wiki pages. For instance, the statement on this page that American English sometimes simplifies pronuciations (by pronouncing Aluminium "alume-inum" is wrong. It's pronounced the way it is in America because that's the way it's spelled in America: aluminum - for a more thoughtful discussion of the facts regarding the spelling of aluminum, for instance, see the Wiki entry on aluminum, where it's pretty clear that aluminum is the spelling early applied by the scientists who actually discovered the metal and aluminium is the result of an arbitrary decision by the OED - I'll attach a Wiki quote). Regarding spellings in general, these have been changing in all forms of English for the entire period during which the language has been recognized as separate from German, from which it mainly derives. It was in a significant state of flux at the time that America separated from the British Empire, and in fact Webster developed the first systemized spelling scheme for English long before the OED got around to it - and is for instance the reason why we don't have quaint phrases like Ye Olde Shoppe in modern English of all dialects. [In fact, Webster standardized English spelling rules 30 years before the earliest tracable beginnings of what has come to be known as the OED.] At the linked "American English" page, which appears to be written by the same person as this page, an example is given of two words which end in "ise" in British English but "ize" in American English. Another example of a modern English word with similar spelling differences is "naturali(s/z)e." Interestingly, it is spelled with a "z" (as is authorize) in the original draft of the American Constitution - drafted by men who were educated in the British Empire, clearly demonstrating again that the spelling of words is far more complicated that the stated "America changed some spellings" of the above statement, and the tone of these English Dialect pages (In fact, I'll sub-quote a passage from the standard English Wiki page on English Spelling at the end to re-emphasize the point). British English is NOT "better," nor is American English. They have both, along with the other dialects, contributed to what is by far the most complex yet flexible modern human language. By far the biggest detriment to the English language is spelling inconsistencies - not BETWEEN dialects, but within and among all dialects because of (inconsistent) spelling rules applied to words taken from a single language group as well as inconsistent spelling applied to words taken from different language groups.
The earliest citation given in the Oxford English Dictionary for any word used as a name for this element is alumium, which Humphry Davy employed in 1808 for the metal he was trying to isolate electrolytically from the mineral alumina. The citation is from his journal Philosophical Transactions: "Had I been so fortunate have procured the metallic substances I was in search of, I should have proposed for them the names of silicium, alumium, zirconium, and glucium."[16]
By 1812, Davy had settled on aluminum, which, as other sources note, matches its Latin root. He wrote in the journal Chemical Philosophy: "As yet Aluminum has not been obtained in a perfectly free state."[17] But the same year, an anonymous contributor to the Quarterly Review, a British political-literary journal, objected to aluminum and proposed the name aluminium, "for so we shall take the liberty of writing the word, in preference to aluminum, which has a less classical sound."[18] (Editor's note: more important politically to get the "classical sound" right than either the scientifically or philologically correct spelling - yes, sarcasm.)
-ise / -ize
American spelling accepts only -ize endings in most cases, such as organize, recognize, and realize. British usage accepts both -ize and the more French-looking -ise (organise, recognise, realise). However, the -ize spelling is now rarely used in the UK in the mass media and newspapers, and is hence often incorrectly regarded as an Americanism,[28] despite being preferred by some authoritative British sources, including Fowler's Modern English Usage and the Oxford English Dictionary, which until recently did not list the -ise form of many individual words, even as an alternative. Indeed, it [OED] firmly deprecates this usage, stating, "[T]he suffix…, whatever the element to which it is added, is in its origin the Gr[eek] -ιζειν, L[atin] -izāre; and, as the pronunciation is also with z, there is no reason why in English the special French spelling in -iser should be followed, in opposition to that which is at once etymological and phonetic."[29] Noah Webster rejected -ise for the same reasons.[30]
~~mjd 2007-June-8 17:40 EDT
Languages constantly change. They change wherever they are spoken. This is hardly a bad thing, it's natural. A change in a language doesn't necessarily leave the language inherantly any better or worse ... usually just different.
It's called English. England was named after the language that the people spoke there. These people spread out to other parts of the World. So we are to conclude that "the version spoken in 'England' is obviously the 'right' one"? The logic just doesn't add up.
Everything is a dialect. There is no "pure English". A great deal of the differences between dialects is due to accent. Queen's English refers to one such accent. There is no accent in written English ... obviously. Writing is not done in Queen's English.
JIMp sevenish GMT, 4 July 2007 (UTC)
English is named after England, which is named after Angeln. Jim Michael (talk) 14:18, 20 March 2015 (UTC)

Right or wrong?

Regardless of the rightness or wrongness, one thing is clear. The way in which the article was written treated American English as the "norm" and British English as the deviant. This is what I have just rewritten:

  • Some American English words ending in "er" end in "re" when written in British English. Examples: center becomes centre - litre becomes liter - metre becomes meter.
  • Some American English words ending in "or" end in "our" when written in British English. Examples: color becomes colour - favor becomes favour - honor becomes honour.
  • Some words spelled with "f" are instead spelled with an "ph". Example: Sulphur is the British spelling of Sulfur.
  • Some words in British English use "s" where "z" is used in American English. Example: colonisation is the British spelling of colonization.
  • Many of these rules are also used in other countries outside of the United Kingdom, more often in countries that are members in the Commonwealth of Nations.

So, what is being said here is that American words become different, when they are spelt (not spelled if you don't mind!) in English. The article treated British spelling as a mutation of American spelling, and not the other way around. How could this possibly be the case?

I don't know who wrote this, but I must say to you, that in dealing with a matter like this, the knowledge of how things are spelt is not sufficient. Think hard about how you express something before you put it up for the public.

Amandajm (talk) 16:13, 27 May 2010 (UTC)

"One place people speak English in a different way is Cornwall, where the Cornish dialect is spoken."

The above text, taken from the page, is simply wrong. There is a Cornish accent, and also a more or less dead Cornish language which is a Celtic language similar to Welsh or Breton. There is no Cornish dialect, meaning a form of English with its own nouns, verbs, structures, etc. We could make sense of the sentence by deleting the word dialect and inserting "accent", or better, delete the sentence altogether.