Wednesday, 30 January 2013

OUGH - there's a thoroughly rough thought!

The English language has many interesting facets. It is this that makes it fascinating.

One area of interest is pronunciation and one simple sequence of four letters has an amazing range of pronunciations, depending on the word they are in.

The sequence is O-U-G-H.

Here are a number of words that use this sequence and you'll know how to say them:

thorough (as in UK English: e.g. thurra)
thorough (as in US English: e.g. thurro)

That's eight. Have I missed any?

What a great language. It must be terrible to learn!

See our website at

Monday, 28 January 2013

Girl Spots McDonald's Errors

A ten-year-old aspiring writer was astonished to find errors on a poster while enjoying a meal at McDonald’s with her family.

Emily Cox read the poster which advertises face painting sessions for children. The first error which she spotted was a superfluous apostrophe in the word Saturdays. She then realised that there was an apostrophe missing from “children’s holidays”, and noticed various other mistakes.

The budding proofreader commented: “I was quite surprised because they are a big company and there were a lot of mistakes. I like to read stories and would like to be an author when I’m older but I haven’t made up my mind completely yet.”

Emily’s mother Angela expressed her surprise that a company such as McDonald’s had made such mistakes on a corporate poster. She said that she and Emily had enjoyed “a very interesting and funny conversation” after the clever girl had explained why the poster was incorrect.

A spokesman for McDonald’s confirmed that the company would be withdrawing the poster and that it would be sending Emily books as a reward for her grammatical astuteness.

She said: “We apologise for the grammatical errors on one of our posters and congratulate the clever, eagle-eyed girl who spotted them.”

Thursday, 17 January 2013

-IZE or -ISE, which is the suffix?

When we proofread documents to UK English, we always change the suffix -ize to -ise. I decided to look into the history of this.

'Oxford spelling' uses -ize as a suffix in preference to -ise. Example words are organize, privatization, realize. There are, apparently, about 200 verbs that are affected. The basis for the use of -ize comes from the Greek origins of words, the root being -izo for -ize words.

Nevertheless, -ise has become the preferred usage in UK English, from sometime in the 1990s. Now, -ize is often thought to be US English and incorrect UK English, though this is not technically true.

Words that use the suffix -yse are not affected by this argument as they come from a different Greek root. Thus, -yse IS UK English, and -yze is US English.

It's enlightening stuff.

So, although it is not necessary to change -ize to -ise for UK English, the key (as always, in proofreading) is consistency.

There's a good full article about Oxford spelling to be found here on Wikipedia.