Saturday, September 10, 2011

Take This Test

It is often said that Britain and America are "two nations divided by a common language", a quote attributed to George Bernard Shaw. In The Canterville Ghost (1887), Oscar Wilde wrote something similar: "We have really everything in common with America nowadays except, of course, language". 

Nah, how you spell is more important
  Speaking at the official opening of the English Language Institute of Singapore (Elis), Lee Kuan Yew said that he had been consciously switching between British and American English on the computer, and that he saw himself moving towards American English in a nod to the US being "a dominant force". Teachers might thus do well to accept this trend, and teach their students to recognise - and even speak - American English, he said.

Yeah, but did he tell them to master their spelling first?

One of the ways in which American English and British English differ is in spelling. In British usage, some words of French, Latin or Greek origin end with a consonant followed by -re. Most of these words have the ending -er in the United States. The difference is most common for words ending -bre or -tre: British spellings calibre, centre, fibre, litre, lustre, metre, reconnoitre, sabre, saltpetre, sombre, spectre and theatre, all have -er in American spelling.

American English has kept the Anglo-French spelling for defense and offense, which are usually defence and offence in British English; similarly there are the American pretense and British pretence; but derivatives such as defensive, offensive, and pretension are always thus spelled in both systems.

Can you tell if the language experts at are using British or American English?


  1. Shamsudin Soh9/10/2011 11:52 AM

    Why are people still inviting old man to attend seminars, answer questions and inaugurate institutes?

    The man is is retired. Please leave him alone so that he can leave us in peace. And he should also have the grace to turn down all these invitations. He has said and done enough to keep us busy for the next 20 to 30 years.

  2. the old fart may not have mastered the use of American english but one thing for sure, his ability to speak with a forked tongue is as good as any past or present white American leader.

    ps: the native red indians paid the price and daft sporeans seem to welcome the same fate.

  3. I now know why the aussies call us the white trash of asia now. english or american english, people still do it with singlish. why does it really matter as long as they speak/write good standard english. first reader is correct. leave the old fart alone and leave us alone. we've enough of his bs.

  4. Looks like those assinine assesors doing the assesing at can't spell to save their own asses. Should we enlighten them?

  5. Anon 10 Sep 2011 2:49pm

    Asinine, not assinine. And arses, not asses.

  6. Anon 10 Sep 2011 2:49pm

    Oh and btw, assessing, not assesing.

  7. Anon 10 Sep 2011 2:49pm

    Missed this one: assessors, not assesors. Was your post a satirical one? Emphasizing the ASS? If so, it's funny; please disregard my previous posts correcting the spelling.

  8. Beware. There is a self serving angle to this new "strategic thrust" towards American English.

  9. Our 4G Future Prime Minister probably speaks with an American accent. This is part of a campaign to make him more acceptable to us.

  10. anon@12:15 AM,
    You have a point there, all the ministers' sons are schooling in the States. Does the new Speaker of the House also speak with an accent? Wonder what happened to the romance with Mandarin. Old people can be so fickle.

  11. based wholly on the advertisement, do they know that anyone who takes the assessment does win the trip to London?