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Free «The difference in spelling between the U.S. English and British English» Essay Sample

There are several examples of how British English differs from American English and a good dictionary will include the usage of both spellings. My dissertation will include many such examples and how their usage appeared. Both types of spelling are absolutely correct. It may be either one’s personal choice to use a particular form of spelling, or the fact that a particular university specifies the use of one over the other. It is important, however, to choose one spelling system of writing and keep to that one. It does not make sense to use both, British and American English, in one’s writing.

State as clearly as you can the specific aim(s) of your dissertation (use three – five bullet points):

In my dissertation, I would like to specify and dwell on the following points.

  • The general differences between British and American spelling
  • Historical origins of both spelling
  • Latin and Greek Origins
  • Double Consonants
  • Different Spellings for Different Meanings and Pronunciations

Provide here an account of the method and resources you intend to use.

i) Firstly, if it is a mainly empirical project (based on data) then say what data you will use and how you will collect it. If you are planning to write a mainly theoretical essay comparing and criticising theoretical ideas then state which are the main sources of research you will be discussing. (10 lines)



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I would like to begin with the historical origins of both types of spellings to bring out a general idea as to how the differences began developing. Then, I would like to dwell on the differences themselves, citing various examples and showing how Latin and Greek origins have affected the development of the British and American spelling. I would continue to state how the spelling differs in both cases. showing the use of double consonants, the dropped ‘e’, past tense differences and how different spellings are used for different meanings.

I will be referring to the work done by Donald Scragg (1974). A History of English Spelling. Manchester, England: Manchester University Press. Pp.82-83. I will also be referring to Johnson’s Dictionary and Webster’s Dictionary due to their popularity during the nineteenth century. This will show us how the usage of American and British English influenced the people. The Oxford English Dictionary will give us more vivid ideas of the usage of both forms of English in modern times.

ii) Secondly discuss how your work relates to or builds on previous work on this topic. (10 lines)

I will use the previous work on this topic to research and establish my own ideas. By referring to the work done by Donald Scragg, I will dwell on the history of English spelling and provide my own examples from daily life. I intend to do an in-depth study of how different countries have played their part in influencing the development of spelling in either case. I will use various sites on the Internet to help me achieve this. The use of double consonants is clearly indicated in British English. I will be making a list of similar words that exist in American English without a doubling of the consonant. In some cases, the same word has a different spelling or there are different spellings for different meanings. I want to bring out the differences in these and state how they came into being. I also want to show through my research the choices of people when it comes to using either British or American English. I will elaborate on the possible reasons for their choices.

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iii) Indicate three or four key bibliographical references you intend to draw on other than any primary texts mentioned above (note: you should say how these particular references are likely to inform your study). (10 lines)

I will be using several different dictionaries to provide vivid examples of the differences in British and American English. I intend to use Johnson’s Dictionary, Webster’s Dictionary, The Oxford English Dictionary, Collin’s Dictionary and Longman’s Dictionary, among others.

During the 18th century and particularly when the Johnson’s dictionary was published, a strategy in England took place toward a more rigid orthography, and many official grammar rules were then laid down, which are in action today. H.L.Mencken (1880-1956). The American Language. 1921. I want to refer to this research done by H.L. Mencken to illustrate the rules that came about for the proper usage of spelling in both cases.

I will also refer to the book ‘Mighty Fine Words and Smashing Expressions’- Making Sense of Transatlantic English- edited by Orin Hargraves. This book is an unusual guide to the different styles of writing while using both types of spelling. ‘Readers and listeners very often fail to understand or misunderstand critical words, references, and allusions for lack of familiarity of the social and cultural contexts that underlie various usages.’ Hargraves, Orin (2003). Mighty Fine Words and Smashing Expressions. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

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First, confirm here that you have submitted or will be submitting an ethical approval form before you begin your research.

Second, give an indication of the kinds of ethical considerations which you think you will need to take into account. For example, if the researcher is collecting data he or she may need to consider the anonymity of the respondents and respect of their rights to privacy and ownership of the language they produce (please refer to Ch15 of Projects in Linguistics (2nd edition 2006)). (10 – 15 lines)

Primary research is relied on in the academic field. My research only involves the collection of data, so the protection of human rights is not an issue I would have to deal with. However, I will make sure that I use only the information that is provided by the author. If confidentiality is required, I will respect that and keep the name of the source anonymous. I will provide appropriate and scientifically valid data. I will make sure that my information is based on the most recent developments. I will be using books, dictionaries and research material from the Internet to collect my data. I will give proper details of the sources of my information. I will ensure that my research does not invade the privacy of another person. I will give details of the procedures to make sure that the confidentiality of the information gathered during my research is maintained.

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Say here what problems may arise in the process of undertaking your project (this could be concerning data collection; planning; time management or something else). Suggest ways in which these problems could be overcome.

The problems that I foresee are not major ones. They can be overcome with proper time management. I need a lot of time to go through the required data before putting it in order and presenting it. That is my major hurdle. However, with a plan chalked out and a good schedule made, I will overcome that. Sometimes, data is not readily available on the Internet or in the libraries. I will use the data that is readily available and make the most of it. I will set aside a few hours every day to do my project work. By doing a little quality work at a time, I will be able to achieve success.

Provide a longer, suitably structured description of your dissertation/project (750 - 1000 words). Your description should be as far as possible a coherent outline, not just a list of notes.

These last two sections are necessarily speculative at the planning stages of your project, and we understand that these considerations might change as your project progresses.

I will begin by giving a general description of the differences in British and American English. While the differences are plenty, it is important to note that either form of spelling is correct and perfectly acceptable in writing. However, some universities may specify the use of a particular form of spelling. In other cases, it is purely your own personal choice. It is advisable however, to adopt only one of the two types of spelling and use that particular one in your writing.

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I believe that the historical origins of both types of spelling are an important part of the project I am about to work on. This will give us a clear picture of how each difference in spelling came into being. Spelling has been influenced by culture and community as well. The spelling that is now in our dictionaries is a development of those that came to us from different countries and has been successfully adopted as our own. The British and American spelling has Greek and Latin background.

There are some basic and large differences in both types of spelling. For one, the use of double consonants is very pronounced in British spelling while it is absent in most cases in American spelling. For example, ‘travelling’ (British) and ‘traveling’ (American). The dropped ‘e’ is another big difference between the two. British English usually keeps an ‘e’ silent while adding a suffix, while this is not done in American English. Look at the example, ‘routeing’ (British) and ‘routing’ (American). I intend to prepare a whole list of such vivid differences based on common points like these ones listed above.

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There are past tense differences in American and British English as well. Many people are not even aware of these. Some examples of these are: The past tense of the verb ‘to dive’ is ‘dived’ in British English and ‘dove’ in American English. Also, the past tense of the verb ‘to get’ is ‘got’ in British English and ‘gotten’ in American English. A list of similar examples can be drawn up to show all the differences in past tense between the two different types of spelling.

Additionally, there are words with different spelling that have different meanings. For example, the word ‘disc’ is British English and the same word ‘disk’ is American English. The word ‘disc’ means optical discs like compact discs, while the word ‘disk’ means those products which have a magnetic storage like a hard disk. ‘Meter’ and ‘metre’ are other very common examples. The former is used in American English while the later is used in American English.

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There are also different spellings for different pronunciations. ‘Aeroplane’ and ‘airplane’ are perfect examples of this. It is interesting to note that the word ‘Airplane’ is essentially British but was later adopted as American. Currently the word ‘airplane’ is used in American English and ‘aeroplane’ is more often used in British English.

Another interesting fact is that there are many spellings that have been historically differently in British and American English, and yet they are spelt the same in both types of spelling these days. Some examples of these words are ‘ache’, ‘slew’ and ‘vice’.

I will refer to the work done by Donald Scragg (1974) in ‘A History of English Spelling’. Manchester: England. While I read and evaluate his views on the history of English spelling, I will form my own thoughts and views on the subject. Having collected enough data from very reliable sources, I will have all my valuable information in front of me to aid the further research. Having all these resources to guide me, I will be able to give a detailed analysis of the difference in British and American English based on my own perspective. I will be able, at that point, to point out how my views may differ from another person’s views on the subject and give valid reasons for the same. I will also be able to agree with some others on the subject and offer suitable reasons based on my knowledge of the facts and due to the experience I have gained while doing this project. I will make rational and intelligent conclusions from what I have learnt.

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At the end of having gathered all the data I need and reading and analyzing it all with an open mind, I will be able to compare and criticize all the different views ahead of me. I would have learnt a lot and developed my own views on the subject.

Lastly, I will list all the references that helped me gather all the data I need, bearing in mind all the ethical considerations I need to make.


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