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    #1

    UK spelling in US English?

    Hi,

    I'm wondering whether it is permitted to use UK spelling in US English? Under what circumstances is it allowed, if at all?

    My general impression is that it can be acceptable in some contexts, for example, I once saw center spelt "centre" in an American book. But such usage is very formal?

    An American informant tells me that she uses color and center, but theatre (i.e. UK spelling). Is this kind of inconsistency common?

    If I wrote an essay at a US university, would it be acceptable to write my essay with UK spelling, even if I was an American?

    I think I'm right in saying things don't work the other way, i.e. US spelling is not generally acceptable in UK English.

    Thanks for your views!

  1. Barb_D's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: UK spelling in US English?

    Simply be consistent and use the spellings that are most familiar to you. I assure you, we can understand "colour" and "flavour" and even "gaol" (though I hope that one doesn't play a role in your essay!)

    Again - be consistent. Don't apologize in one paragraph and apologise in the next.

    PS - Welcome to Using English.
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

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    #3

    Re: UK spelling in US English?

    Quote Originally Posted by wordcraft75 View Post

    I think I'm right in saying things don't work the other way, i.e. US spelling is not generally acceptable in UK English.
    In English language exams in the UK, both spelling systems are accepted as long as they are used consistently. You might find some lecturers who insist on British spelling, but all guidelines and policies that I have seen allow both.

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    #4

    Re: UK spelling in US English?

    ***** NOT A TEACHER *****

    Good morning, wordcraft.

    (1) You asked for various views. So may I give mine?

    (2) When I went to college many (!!!!) years ago, the professors wanted good writing -- clear, vigorous, and to the point.

    (3) If you use British spelling, there may be at least two reactions on the part of the reader (remember that sometimes it is not the professor who reads students' papers. It is his student assistants):

    (a) It will be very distracting.

    (b) Some readers may feel that you are "putting on airs."

    (4) This whole spelling matter is a very sensitive issue. I hear (perhaps falsely) that the British are starting to adopt a few American spellings.

    (5) I wonder what spelling is taught to students in Latin America, Africa, and Asia. Perhaps some posters will enlighten us.

    Thank you.

    *****

    P. S. A somewhat similar gentle disagreement is going on between which Chinese "spelling" should be used in American schools teaching Mandarin: simplified characters or traditional characters.

  2. BobK's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: UK spelling in US English?

    Quote Originally Posted by wordcraft75 View Post
    ...
    I think I'm right in saying things don't work the other way, i.e. US spelling is not generally acceptable in UK English.

    ....
    I'm not sure where you got this idea. Besides, widely held views of what is 'American spelling' are of dubious validity. For example, many British people use the spelling '-ize-' when it is acceptable. I do, for example.

    b

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    #6

    Re: UK spelling in US English?

    Quote Originally Posted by TheParser View Post
    (4) This whole spelling matter is a very sensitive issue. I hear (perhaps falsely) that the British are starting to adopt a few American spellings.
    I'm not sure that there's much evidence of this- you'll see ise/ize used, for example, but it's not a transition as both look fine to most of us, and many will mix the two in the same paragraph. The only concrete example I can think of is program, and that is generally restricted to computing. I have seen a programmer writing color and this could be an area where such standardisation could occur with the adoption of American spelling. I think pronunciation transfers more readily than spelling. It is very hard to change- I once tried for a couple of days to see and it was murder.

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    #7

    Re: UK spelling in US English?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tdol View Post
    ...I have seen a programmer writing color and this could be an area where such standardisation could occur with the adoption of American spelling. I think pronunciation transfers more readily than spelling. It is very hard to change- I once tried for a couple of days to see and it was murder.
    I think some words are much more likely than others to change in the hands of computer programmers, particularly where programming language is concerned. For example you can't write much HTML (the stuff of web pages) without using COLOR or CENTER, and if a programmer is repeatedly getting build errors, s/he may tend to adapt spellings for use in cases where computers aren't involved.

    b

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    #8

    Re: UK spelling in US English?

    Quote Originally Posted by wordcraft75 View Post
    Hi,

    I'm wondering whether it is permitted to use UK spelling in US English? Under what circumstances is it allowed, if at all?

    My general impression is that it can be acceptable in some contexts, for example, I once saw center spelt "centre" in an American book. But such usage is very formal?

    An American informant tells me that she uses color and center, but theatre (i.e. UK spelling). Is this kind of inconsistency common?

    If I wrote an essay at a US university, would it be acceptable to write my essay with UK spelling, even if I was an American?

    I think I'm right in saying things don't work the other way, i.e. US spelling is not generally acceptable in UK English.

    Thanks for your views!
    Personally, I would recommend consistency throughout your work. If you are going to use American spelling, stick to it. If you choose British spelling, stick to it.

    If I read a piece where "organize" (AmE) was used, and then "theatre" (BrE), they would jump off the page at me immediately.

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    #9

    Re: UK spelling in US English?

    "Theatre" is probably not the best choice as an incongruity, since it's used often enough here, especially in proper names. But yes, I completely agree with your point!
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

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    #10

    Re: UK spelling in US English?

    Quote Originally Posted by TheParser View Post
    (5) I wonder what spelling is taught to students in Latin America, Africa, and Asia. Perhaps some posters will enlighten us.
    In Brazil's metropolis and big cities the students may opt for enrolling in a "British" English course or in an "American" English course. This is clearly stated by the ESL course, even in its marketing advertisings. The courses which focus in AmE try to pass some of America cultural aspects to the students while the ones wich focus in BrE some of the UK cultural aspects. Usually just by hearing the name of a certain ESL course people know whether it is related to BrE or AmE.

    However, this concerns only good ESL courses. There are many cheaper ESL courses, with considerable lower quality, which mixes both AmE and BrE, usually relying on the teachers formation and preferences.

    I have also already seem ESL courses here claiming to teach "International English".

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