Tag Archives: spelling

“i before e”

30 Oct

English spelling is frequently bizarre. A few “rules” – the most commonly cited of which is “i before e, except after c” – can help, but they are often broken, and for no apparent reason. Neither “seize” nor “weird”, for example, contains a “c”, but in both “e” comes before “i”.

We double-up the “l” in words such as “channelled” yet use a single “t” in “benefiting” and a single “s” in “focusing” and “busing” (“bussing” is a synonym for “kissing”). “Instalment” has one “l”, but “installation” has two. Then there’s the problem of words such as “dependant” (which is a noun) and “dependent” (which is an adjective).

“Honour” keeps the “u” in “honourable”, but “humour” and “glamour” lose it in “humorous” and “glamorous”.

No, there’s no logic in it, it’s just the way it is.

The problem is compounded by the differences in spelling between US English and UK English. I want to protect our spelling – which, no surprise, I prefer – but it’s hard for children to remember how to spell “adviser”, for example, when they constantly see it as “advisor” on TV credits, and even more confusing when we spell “advisory” with an “o”.

I suppose that it’s inevitable that some US spelling will become the standard in the UK, particularly as websites such as this one underline UK spelling as being incorrect. I will try my best to live with it as long as we don’t succumb to using monstrous words such as “burglarized” instead of “burgled”.

Today’s picture

The Outer Hebrides are unspoilt (too cold to attract many visitors I think) and extremely beautiful. This is South Uist shot from Barra.