The two super giants of international language face off across the Atlantic as the struggle for supremacy of the ‘s’ versus ‘z’ on our auto-correct spelling option keeps reminding us all. Which to do you choose, American or English? ‘Harbour’ or ‘Harbor’?
Much of our TV content is American, the music industry is dominated by the American charts, powered by the huge amount of money and influence that drives the language they use. The big global tech companies we refer to for text to write and read like Google, Amazon and Microsoft are all American entities and have a massive unseen influence on our language and how we use it.
So how is British English managing to survive? Is it down to the Queen and her indomitable influence on all that is truly English. After all, we do call it the Queen’s English when we are trying to convince others that we know a phrase or word is ‘correct’. English comes from England after all, should we not remain true to the roots of our language? Perhaps US English is just a young whippersnapper that will not stand the test of time. England has a great many years of survival to fall back on. It is a survivor. There was a time when English nearly lost out to Latin and French as the acceptable international language of trade, diplomacy and religion. Even Nordic German made an attempt in the early 500s after the fall of Roman governance in England.
How non-English speaking nations deal with the conflict can be seen when they adopt an English word into their own vocabulary, like ‘internet’. This is called ‘anglicisation’ and the way the writer chooses to spell expresses their link to either American or English culture.
And there lies the answer to which spell check option you will ultimately choose. Do you affiliate with American or English culture? When you see the ‘z’ spelling does it strike you as some how ‘foreign’? Do you hope that your reader will notice you are the best of British if you chose the ‘s’ for anglicisation over the ’z’.