Thursday, 10 December 2009
IZE versus upstart ISE
One of my favourite Muriel Spark novels is A Far Cry from Kensington, with a backdrop of London publishing in the 1950s. (It also tells you all you need to know about losing weight: the heroine realizes she is grossly fat, starts eating the same as before, but half, until she reaches a normal size). There is a blackmailer in the book, who is identified by his unusual spelling of 'organizer'. He spells it 'organiser'.
Not so long ago in England, all words incorporating the Greek suffix ize, were spelled with a z; so realize, civilize, ostracize. Other words like surprise, advise and surmise, having no connection with the Greek suffix, were not spelled with a z.
I stick to the traditional spelling, which also has the advantage of lessening the gap between us and Americans (damn that Webster). But so prevalent has the ise variant become, that I am often told off for 'using American spelling'.
The Oxford University Press and I are as one on this. Can I persuade anyone to join us?
Posted by Lexi at Thursday, December 10, 2009