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Pre-World War American English Orthography

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Pre-World War American English Orthography

Postby quendidil » Wed Mar 26, 2008 4:11 pm

I've been reading a few pre-WW (both) American English texts lately, and I seem to have found spellings of some words that would now be deemed chiefly British.
E.g.
learnt
spelt
honour
analyse

Of course, I know the -ize for Latin roots was common across the Atlantic until recently, but "learnt" and "honour" have been used only in the Commonwealth since America's independence if I'm not mistaken. Can anyone explain the presence of these forms?
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Re: Pre-World War American English Orthography

Postby Bert » Thu Mar 27, 2008 1:03 am

quendidil wrote:I've been reading a few pre-WW (both) American English texts lately, and I seem to have found spellings of some words that would now be deemed chiefly British.
E.g.
learnt
spelt
honour
analyse

Of course, I know the -ize for Latin roots was common across the Atlantic until recently, but "learnt" and "honour" have been used only in the Commonwealth since America's independence if I'm not mistaken. Can anyone explain the presence of these forms?

I don't think that right after independence American spelling changed. The British spelling and the American spelling each must have developed and grew apart.
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Re: Pre-World War American English Orthography

Postby Lucus Eques » Thu Mar 27, 2008 4:23 am

quendidil wrote:I've been reading a few pre-WW (both) American English texts lately, and I seem to have found spellings of some words that would now be deemed chiefly British.
E.g.
learnt
spelt
honour
analyse

Of course, I know the -ize for Latin roots was common across the Atlantic until recently, but "learnt" and "honour" have been used only in the Commonwealth since America's independence if I'm not mistaken. Can anyone explain the presence of these forms?


I'd lean towards an imitation of British spellings (and pronunciation in the case of "spelt") as the chief cause — most "American" spellings were established since Noah Webster ~1800. "Analyse," of course, is not an "-ize" verb, but merely the correct spelling ("analyze" is a long used mispelling).
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Re: Pre-World War American English Orthography

Postby Voxforascausa » Fri Mar 28, 2008 5:09 am

Bert wrote:
quendidil wrote:I've been reading a few pre-WW (both) American English texts lately, and I seem to have found spellings of some words that would now be deemed chiefly British.
E.g.
learnt
spelt
honour
analyse

Of course, I know the -ize for Latin roots was common across the Atlantic until recently, but "learnt" and "honour" have been used only in the Commonwealth since America's independence if I'm not mistaken. Can anyone explain the presence of these forms?

I don't think that right after independence American spelling changed. The British spelling and the American spelling each must have developed and grew apart.

If you look at scans of the constitution, you will see that they do use some American English spellings (they also seem to like to use Long S). I have not seen a clear copy of the Declaration, however. The spellings might have started to diverge several decades before during colonial times.
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Postby Lucus Eques » Tue Apr 01, 2008 2:36 am

Heh, I also like to use long S, as you call it.
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