Hell in a handcart

American spellings drive me crazy

I was in Glasgow last night. There’s a new hotel being built next to Renfrew Street, and it has some cool, hip brochure copy on the windows to get you excited. It’s a call to “travelers”.


I was driving home the other day, and just after Crow Road there’s a billboard that currently promotes a new dentist. It’s a new and exciting dental “center”.


I don’t know why this annoys me so much, but it does: it’s not endearing like an extra apostrophe turning tomatoes into tomatoe’s and pizzas into pizza’s, and it’s not a genuine typo like the ones you’ll occasionally spot on the sides of builders’ vans. It’s just bloody lazy, the result of firms either copying American copy without checking the spellings or, like I suspect Microsoft did with its Media Center, thinking “you know what? We can’t be bothered changing it. Screw you!”

18 replies on “American spellings drive me crazy”

Rather than a written thing, I get annoyed by the american pronounciation of router. In the UK that’s something that you use to shape wood, not something you plug your PC into.

Mind you, I’ve just had to send a message to the whole site about our Colour Laserjet 5500 printers, refusing to type it as Color, which technically is correct, since it is a product name rather than description.

According to a couple of American techs I used to work with, “root” is common slang for “fuck” in the US and they therefore find our pronunciation of “router” hilarious and inappropriate in a business setting.

Since the day I moved to the UK I have made a concerted effort to speak and spell in UK English.

Only to find that people in the UK respond by speaking and spelling in American English.

I really do not know what is right and what is wrong anymore, and for that matter, neither does anyone else.

I do find that the American phrases come out during moments of stress. When the wee one was a newborn it was a “nappy” at 3 PM, but a “diaper” at 3 AM.

Having had to reboot a couple of fuckers today, I don’t think that’s inappropriate at all.

Center is incorrect anyway. Anyone who’s ever called into an American telephone conference knows it’s called “cenner”.

“Welcome to the caanfrence cenner…”

Oh, don’t. My wee girl apparently shares a nursery with Lily Allen, so she’s dropping consonants all over the place. It’s driving me mental, innit.

Accents are weird things. My one’s all over the shop – Irish mum, English dad, born near Inverness but living in various bits of Scotland in my first few years – and occasionally a word just comes out in weird way. For some reason the word “seven” always came out in broad Belfast, for years.

> I really do not know what is right and what is wrong anymore, and for that matter, neither does anyone else.

Indeed, yeah. It’s all getting mixed up. I know languages evolve, but it’s a pity that with some things – eg US firms not localising content for the UK any more – it’s being shoved at us rather than happening because we want to use those spellings. if that makes sense.

The advent of the Web — especially blogging — seems to have set American and British English converging again, and it’s not all one-way. Americans have started saying “Bugger!” I notice. And “Cheers” for “Thank you” is beginning to catch on over there, too. To quite what extent, I have no idea. I think we need a concerted effort to get them saying “mingin'”.

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