My name is Cédric Bozzi and this is my blog. Mostly, it’s an aggregate of my tweets and Instagram posts, but once in a while you may yet see an actual article here.
As a spelling reformer, Webster believed that English spelling rules were unnecessarily complex, so his dictionary introduced American English spellings, replacing "colour" with "color", substituting "wagon" for "waggon", and printing "center" instead of "centre". He also added American words, like "skunk" and "squash", that did not appear in British dictionaries. At the age of seventy, Webster published his dictionary in 1828.
You wouldn’t imagine that American spelling, easily considered by some as a devolution of the language at the hands of those degenerates living across the pond, was in fact the consequence of an active intervention by a Yale alum who wanted to reform spelling, and just happened to be in a position to promote his agenda through a brand-new dictionary (and go broke in the process).
Makes you think twice about those anecdotal efforts or petitions to simplify the French language in a similar vein. Just because we’re old and familiar with the rules we were taught doesn’t really make it so much better than an engineered, streamlined alternative.
Also interesting, “American and British English spelling differences,” especially for people whose native language isn’t English — since I learned most from reading text rather than memorizing vocabulary lists, and that text came indiscriminately from British and American sources, I don’t always know what’s a misspelling and what’s just a transatlantic variant. There’s a lot more to it than just dropping the “u” in “–our.”
For instance: “anymore,” “judgement,” or the fact that a “ton” doesn’t weigh the same in the UK as in the US, and it isn’t quite a thousand kilograms in either. And I also found out that American authors use double quotes where British writers use single quotes — which usage had surprised me in a book I read recently.