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British/American spelling (-ize/-ise)?

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British/American spelling (-ize/-ise)? #1 (permalink) Sat Jan 14, 2006 10:07 am   British/American spelling (-ize/-ise)?

Hi, I've read in a German ESL course book that verbs like
organize, realize, recognize can be spelled like this too:
organise, realise, recognise.

So far this doesn't make dramatic reading, I think we all know that those two types of spelling exist. However, what was new to me is the fact in that book (which was published in 2003) they say that -ize is the more modern version of British spelling and only a few people representing the older generation would stick to -ise. As a matter of fact, in that book they refer to the -ize version as the American/British way of spelling. So, does this mean that -ize is British as well as American?
Thanks in advance for shedding some light on this isse.
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Ise/ize #2 (permalink) Sat Jan 14, 2006 11:02 am   Ise/ize

Hi Nicole,

There's not a great deal of light I can shed on this matter but I could make a couple of comments. It seems that the spelling -ize is standard in American English whereas in British English both -ize and -ise are used. New Oxford favours -ize whereas BNC (British National Corpus - a collection of some 100 million words of samples of current written and spoken English) favours -ise. The theory was that words of Greek origin took -ize and words of French origin took -ise. That doesn't always work because the origin of a word is often obscure. The end result is that British English uses both forms.

Just some thoughts.

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British/American spelling (-ize/-ise)? #3 (permalink) Sat Jan 14, 2006 20:01 pm   British/American spelling (-ize/-ise)?

I would add that American English uses also uses both -ize and -ise, but not always on the same words. My New Oxford American Dictionary says that -ise is obligatory in certain cases, such as when it is part of a larger unit, such as -mise, and also when the word bearing the suffix derives from a word containing S, e.g., television => televise. Note that we also say advertise.

The rules for this are very complex -- and in some cases there is no rule, I'll bet -- so it is too simplistic to say that one of them is new, and one old; one is American and the other British.
Jamie (K)

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