I was with my nephew the other day and we somehow got onto the subject of spelling.

Initially we differed in our spelling of the word ‘favourite’ (I’ll spell it like that as I’m in the UK). Of course he spells it ‘favorite’ and was 100% convinced that he was correct. In fact he couldn’t quite believe that his uncle (who he thinks is quite bright…) got it wrong.

It very quickly became apparent that he spells it that way because Internet Explorer has always spelt it that way and therefore that’s what he’s grown up with. I can really see his point and to be honest it seems a more natural way to spell it. I mean it’s basically a silent ‘u’ anyway.

We chatted further about this and another good example was colour/color. Again a silent ‘u’ and certainly it seems to make more sense. What about tyre versus tire. This really is an odd one because as far as I’m aware we both spell retire and attire the same way. I guess the UK spelling comes from the Romans/Europeans?

I’m not sure what other words there are that are pronounced exactly the same but are spelt differently from the UK to the USA. I’d love to hear of more examples.

Something sort of related to this is the pronounciation of the word ‘niche’. As I’ve been attending a lot of seminars recently, I’ve gotten used to the American pronounciation ‘nitch’. It’s actually very different to our British pronounciation which sounds like ‘nishe’. Again I suspect it’s down to the Europeans as it seems to have an almost French style about it, but I am by no means an expert and will happily be corrected.

Our conversation led onto how the spelling of words has developed over the years and how it continues to develop. My feeling is that as many younger people use text language in their everyday writing, words will naturally get shorter anyway.

It may be that in 50 years time, especially with the internet making the world a much smaller place, we will all be spelling and pronouncing the words the same…

What do you think?

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