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UA1/2001: Is it organize or organise? (30.1.01)

It is incorrect to consider the -ize/ -ization spellings as American English (AE) and the -ise/ -isation spellings as British English (BE). The original spelling of words like criticize in Britain used -ize (reflecting their Greek or Latin spellings) from 16th century and it was the influence of French that later brought -ise/ -isation spellings into BE. Although AE has always used the -ize/ -ization spellings, it is interesting that modern BE dictionaries and many publishers in the UK are now only using the -ize/ -ization spelling. The latest input in this area is from Penguin in their value-for-money The New Penguin English Dictionary (2000). They point out that both the -ize/ -ization and the -ise/ -isation spellings are correct in British English and that many British people, British newspapers and BE spellcheckers favour -ise/ -isation spellings. However, and this is important for us in Norway, this dictionary adds about the -ize form "…it has come to be regarded as the world English norm, and, as such, has been adopted by most modern dictionaries and many British publishers".

British publishers that have been "-ized" include Collins, Cobuild dictionary from 1996; the Oxford University Press, in all its dictionaries as well as those the International Organization for Standardization stipulate as reference works for writing ISO standards: The Shorter Oxford Dictionary, The Concise Oxford Dictionary; Longman and Penguin; and even the oldest publisher in the world, the Cambridge University Press, Cambridge International Dictionary of English (1995).

But before you throw the -ise baby out with the bathwater, note the following points:
-ize can now be said to be the standard spelling outside Britain (and in European Commission publications) for verbs with endings pronounced "eyes" such as: organize, symbolize, recognize. Adding -ize to create new verbs is standard and stresses action: characterize, finalize, hospitalize, prioritize and randomize. Some such verbs are struggling to become accepted, and tailored solutions are better than customized ones in formal English. It is best to use such new verbs with care, as slim is better than slenderize and burgle is better than burglarize. Some authors have produced home-made horrors such as trialize, costwize, piecewize and elementwize that have no place in formal English, scientific reports or any serious writing.

-ise is always the correct spelling in both BE and AE when the ending is pronounced "ice" or "ease" as in precise and expertise. Some verbs that are formed from nouns with -is- spelling, like advertising and television, also only have -ise spelling in both BE and AE. Examples: advertise, advise, arise, compromise, despise, devise, disguise, enterprise, excise, exercise, improvise, revise, supervise, surprise, televise.

-ization, -isation follow the
-ize/ -ise pattern.
-ization spelling is used by UN organizations, ISO - the International Organization for Standardization and most of the international business and
scientific community.
-isation spelling is found in much of British industry and European Commission publications, and CEN, The European Committee for Standardisation. After the British Petroleum's merger with the American oil company Amoco, policy statements on the Internet for BP-Amoco are still written in BE, but the spelling has changed from BP's -isation to BP-Amoco's -ization. The trend is clear.

Tricky words

per diem, the diem
The term Statens reiseregulativ may cause some translation problems. Officially, in English, it is the Government Travel Allowance Scale. However, many English speakers talk about the travel allowance, "the diem" or "per diem".
Per diem (Norw. kostgodtgjørelse) means the daily allowance when travelling to cover hotel expenses and meals or subsistence costs. This is often called "the diem". If you are writing a contract you could state that "Travel, subsistence and accommodation expenses in the contract period are to be covered by the contractor. All travel subsistence and accommodation expenses are to be in accordance with the Norwegian Government's Travel Allowance Scale".

Enlightening English

Hua Tian Hotel is among the few best foreign affairs hotels (Hotel in Qingdao)

Come Broil Yourself at Your own Table (Restaurant in Hong Kong)

"This programme will stimulate your enthusiasm for the study and enjoyment of literature and the English language, whilst developing yours skills of critical reading" (Wolverhampton University: The Essential Guide English BA (Hons))