Ever since I have had a computer, it keeps telling me that I am spelling things incorrectly. Now I know that this is not the case, as I was taught well at school, and took pride in being able to spell almost anything. So, why does it persist in the dreaded red underlining? The answer lies in the origins of Microsoft, Google, and most other software companies that pioneered the expansion of the World Wide Web. They are American. They spell English incorrectly, in the American way. Those of you with a literary bent, may recall the quote of Oscar Wilde. Something along the lines of ‘Identical to the English in every respect, except of course language’. Oscar was thinking along the right lines, but he didn’t have to deal with Microsoft. In Trafalgar Square, in London, I was once approached by a tourist clutching a map. He walked towards me, smiling, and asked, “Excuse me sir, do you speak American?” I naturally replied, “No, but I do speak English”, and gave him directions. Sadly, the irony was lost on him.
The Americans have given us many useful words over the years. These include; ‘Jitterbug’ , ‘Junkie’, and a few others that did not previously feature in the Oxford English Dictionary. There are also iconic phrases, notably ‘Rock and Roll’, that have become common in everyday speech. If something did not exist before, it becomes arguable if it has a ‘correct spelling’, or not. However, the majority of the language arrived with the original settlers, so should not have been so blatantly tampered with. Try typing ‘Labour’ or ‘Harbour’ into anything. (I just have, of course, and both words are underlined in red). The spell check option will offer ‘Labor’ and ‘Harbor’ as the correct spelling. (These are not underlined as I type). Realise becomes ‘Realize’, and so on. The list would be too extensive to repeat here. This is not so much of a problem when speaking. To be honest, I don’t really care if Americans prefer to call a pavement a sidewalk, or refer to a lift as an elevator, or the underground railway as a subway. But somehow, this tampering with the written word really goes against the grain.
In the 21st Century, America has a more ethnically diverse population than ever before. Spanish is now the second language in the country, spoken by well over 50 million people, or roughly one in five of the total population. So, can anyone tell me, do they change the spellings of Spanish too? Has ‘Manana’ become ‘Manya’? I would guess that it has not. Yet the corruption of English continues, at a rapid pace, fuelled ( just the one L in America, by the way) by Pop Music Culture, and mobile phone (cell) text messages.
Night will never be ‘Nite’, and Worcester is pronounced ‘Wuss-ter’, not ‘Wore – cess-ter’. The letter Z is pronounced ‘zed’ , not ‘zee’. It just sounds so wrong, can’t they see it (or hear it) ?
There can only be one natural conclusion. There has to be a new language invented. It must be recognised (no Z) by the United Nations, and have its own dictionary. Schools can spring up, teaching it to outsiders, and English may just survive another few hundred years.
That language will be called Americanese.