Essex MP bemoans US style spelling

AN ATTEMPT by an Essex MP to ride to the defence of the Queen's English has been dubbed a "waste of time" by a leading academic and the biggest software company in the world.

AN ATTEMPT by an Essex MP to ride to the defence of the Queen's English has been dubbed a "waste of time" by a leading academic and the biggest software company in the world.

Colchester MP Bob Russell, laid down an early day motion in Parliament yesterday complaining about the "unwelcome intrusion of spelling emanating from America".

The Liberal Democrat MP said confused schoolchildren were having growing difficulty distinguishing what was American English and what was the correct UK version.

Former journalist Mt Russell blamed American versions of spellcheckers installed on home computers as the main source of confusion and called for the Government to require the IT industry to ensure software was modified to give correct UK spellings.


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Academic Hugh Brogan, author of The Penguin History of the United States of America, said he was in favour of the "inch by inch" "rationalisation" of the English language.

The professor of history at the University of Essex said: "This motion in Parliament is not worth any kind of attention – it's a grotesque interference in our lives.

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"If people want to spell differently, let them. Really, the American dialect of English began with the famous lexicographer Noah Webster in the eighteenth century.

"He wondered why the word 'honour' was spelt with a 'u' whereas the Latin word was 'honor'. Ever since, Americans have tended to go down the Latin route and we remain loyal to French derivations.

"There's now so much coming and going between us and the Americans these days, the fact our spellings are becoming similar is probably a good thing.

"It's certainly not something that Parliament should interfere with," he added.

Nick Rudman, headteacher at Eight Ash Green and Aldham Primary School, said: "All our computers are defaulted to the UK English dictionary, so we do not see any problem in that respect.

"I hear children talking as if they are writing some American screenplay sometimes, but if American spellings appears in written work, we'll draw their attention to them."

A spokesman for software giant Microsoft said: "It's a pointless early day motion. For years now we've been defaulting all our programs such as Word to the country in which people reside when they set the computers up.

"You would have to actively choose American English to get American spellings to appear on spell checkers."

Mr Russell said: "Hugh Brogan is a lovely man, but he does live in an ivory world of his own – a division from reality.

"I welcome Microsoft's example, but why do I see so many examples in literature of incorrect spellings? I recognise languages evolve, but this is for Parliament to decide: this is the route to anarchy, the Tower of Babel is tall enough. We don't want the mass importation of American spell checkers."

English American

Recognise Recognize

Travelling Traveling

Centre Center

Grey Gray

Fulfil Fulfill

Defence Defense

Programme Program

Colour Color

Realise Realize

Analyse Analyze

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