Tag Archives: grammar nerd

A British Spelling Primer, To Your Satisfaction

18 Jun

Now is the Thyme fore all Good Children to Learne how to Spelle

I have really liked the idea of primers ever since I read about them in the Little House on the Prairie books. A big, blank yellowing notebook to practice soothing, repetitive pen strokes, and make 50 lowercase l’s in a row. Aw, yeah.

If my bibliophilic tendencies don’t come across strangely to you, then perhaps we will also share a mutual anglophilic interest in the divergences between A’Murrican English and British spelling. With a few exceptions, I usually prefer the American versions, so I’m not trying to be a hipster by collecting these here because I don’t really intend to use them. But it’s kind of an interesting meditation on language, at least for me.

  • Gray versus Grey.  I really have to go with the British “e” on this one only; “gray” just reads so… uncouth, like “crayfish.”
  • Favorite versus Favourite.  (Also see: Flavor/Flavour; Color/Colour; etc)  All I know is that when I see words spelled with the “ou” version, like on my tin of Tazo tea that includes “natural flavours,” I feel like I’m being patronized.  Hard to put my finger on why.
  • Analyze versus Analyse (See, too: Criticize/Criticise; really any word that ends in “yze”).  I can’t help it – “analyse” looks so ****ing weird!!
  • Pajamas versus Pyjamas.  I guess because I grew up watching American television, I’m conditioned to believe that “bananas” needs to rhyme with “pajamas” if they’re going to be coming down the stairs together.
  • Diarrhea versus Diarrhoea. …… HAHAH, what do they call it? HAHAH
  • I’m sorry, I’m still laughing from the previous.
  • Donut versus Doughnut.  Okay, stop thinking about diarrhea, gross, this is “donut”s time. Well, I really am a hater of deciduous tree nuts like walnuts or pecans, and the only thing I fairly well like is peanuts (which apparently, are legumes not nuts) and the Brit spelling only emphasizes some strange, imagined relationship by separating the dough from the nut, while the U.S. version flows seamlessly, not unlike the perfect eternal circle of the donut itself.  Donut.
photo credit 1: here