Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Zipipop Style Guide

Narrowing the Divide between British and American English

The Zipipop Style Guide takes Oxford spelling as the starting point since it is more harmonious with American spelling. Oxford spelling is used by most UN, and many international organizations, Oxford University Press and some other highly-regarded UK publishers, such as Dorling Kindersley.

The other main reference point is Wikipedia's Manual of Style, which is clear and to the point with the wiki advantage of being consensus driven.

Online Dictionaries:

The Cambridge Online – Clearly shows the differences between British & American spellings but can be slow to integrate new words.
merriam-webster.com – Cluttered but otherwise good (with audio pronunciations).
wiktionary.org – A very well organized wiki dictionary.

Online Theasaurus:

Thesaurus.com – Clear and thorough.

Dates: (without "-th" ordinal suffixes in line with Wikipedia guidelines and using the international format)

14 February 1990; between 10 and 14 June 2007; on 14 and 15 December

To ise or to ize: Although -ise endings are more common in British-based publishing, it is still correct to use the -ize forms (Oxford spelling), which are more in line with American spelling. Please note that this does not include words ending in -yse, eg – analyse, paralyse and catalyse. However, there are certain words that must always take the -ise in both traditions, however, no need to worry as your spell checker will pick up on those.

To oo or to o-o
: Use cooperation and coordination.

Learnt or Learned type words: Use the -ed versions.

Use: peacekeeping, peacebuilding, statebuilding

Programme/Program: In British spelling a program is something your write for your computer. In all other contexts use programme.

British Words: Click here for a list of British words that should be used carefully since they might not be commonly understood by Americans.

Quite: To be used carefully since in American English it retains its original meaning of 'very'. The following transcript from a high-profile interview with Bill Clinton and Sir David Dimbleby on BBC television says it all:

CLINTON:  Well, first of all I support John Kerry. He’s
a good man, he’s a good senator and I believe he’d be
quite a good President.


CLINTON: Very very good President. Quite a good
President, you don’t say that? I think he will, I think
he’d be an excellent President.

Spelling and grammar checkers have become surprisingly effective, so pay attention to what they suggest (even if they are not right all the time). For everything else consult the web and make your own decisions. Happy writing!

1 comment:

Antti said...

Word 2008?

(No, I didn't read every single word of the posting... Wish I had more time... :-)