18. Apr, 2019

No demise of '-ize' !

How depressing that the thought police are circling like sharks around poor Prince Charles, protesting that the '-ize' spelling format is used only by (shudder) our American cousins. Yet these critics presumably represent the complaisant majority that has already adopted such Americanisms as 'program' for 'programme', 'maneuver' for 'manoeuvre', 'pediatrics' for 'paediatrics' and much besides. Do they spell 'mediaeval' the American way, 'medieval'? And have they observed its truncation, as a result, from four syllables to three ('muh-dee-val')? 

Has anyone also noticed that the good old English word 'homage' is now almost universally pronounced by media persons in the nouveau American way, 'ommage'?

And have they adopted all these transatlantic imports only for their gorge to rise at the standard Oxford English Dictionary usage '-ize'?

As for John Humphrys harrumphing on this morning's 'Today' programme about how he dislikes seeing words spelt by the Prince 'the American way' ... I suspect this reveals more about his reading habits than he thinks. In my experience a great many leading British book publishers prefer the '-ize' usage, including my present publisher Pen & Sword. How can he have failed to notice this in his preparations for interviewing so many authors? ? Or (OMG) does he perhaps rely on summaries produced for him in journalese? 

Only last year, when proof-reading my colleague Dr Arthur Kincaid's new publication of Buc's Richard III, one of the earliest parameters we established was his use of the '-ize' form. It really is quite prevalent. Not, I think, merely because he's an Oxford man ...

Is there not more than enough division in our fair land already, without inventing new ways to larrup each other? My Burchfield edition of Fowler's Modern English Usage (1998) regards the choice of 'ise' / 'ize' as a matter that ‘remains delicately balanced but unresolved.’

For heaven's sake let's lighten up and allow differentness to thrive.