[Dixielandjazz] Re: Spelling

Bill Haesler bhaesler at nsw.bigpond.net.au
Fri Sep 12 10:35:54 PDT 2003

Dear Pat,
Regarding your thread that:
ise is English English and ize is American English.
I lost that argument many years ago.
The reverse is true.
Our reliable ole mate HW Fowler (he of 'Modern English Usage' fame. OUP,1926 - my copy is 1954.) has this to say: (to
quote from the lengthy entry):
"..the ultimate source of the ending is the Greek -izo, whether the particular verb was an actual Greek one or was a
Latin or French or English imitation, & such imitation was made by adding the termination to a Greek or another stem.
Most English printers follow the French practice of changing -ize to -ise; but the OED of the Oxford University Press,
the Encyclopaedia Britannica, The Times & American usage, in all of which -ize is the accepted form, carry authority
enough to outweigh superior numbers."
He goes on for a bit then says "...there is no reason why in English the special French spelling should be followed, in
opposition to that which is at once etymological & phonetic."
However, he does point out that "...a small number of verbs, some of them in very frequent use, like advertise, devise,
surprise, do not get their -ise even remotely from the Greek -izo, & must be spelt with -s-; the more important of these
[being] advertise, apprise, chastise, circumcise, comprise, compromise, demise, despise, devise, disenfranchise,
disguise, enfranchise, enterprise, excise, exercise, improvise, incise, premise, supervise, surmise, surprise. The
difficulty of remembering which of these -ise words are is in fact the only reason for making -ise universal, & the
sacrifice of significance to ease does not seem justified." So there!!
However, it is for precisely the latter reason that I rarely if ever use -ize. 
Very kind regards,
PS: Sorry Will Connelly. Mr Fowler does not mention sodomise. Nor does my 'spelling corrector' - in either spelling.
PPS: OKOM content: improvise.

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