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UK translators: do you use -ize or -ise?
Thread poster: Jan Sundström

Jan Sundström  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 15:03
English to Swedish
+ ...
Aug 19, 2008

Hi all,

I read these interesting articles in Wikipedia:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oxford_spelling
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_and_British_English_spelling_differences#-ise.2C_-ize

Today, all major newspapers and magazines in the UK use -ise. The Times had been using -ize until the early 1980s, when it decided to switch to the -ise spelling. The Times Literary Supplement, Britain's most influential literary review has continued to use Oxford spelling. Oxford spelling is also used in academic publications; the London-based scientific journal Nature uses Oxford spelling, for example. Even though British dictionaries generally give -ize variants first, the British government prefer -ise.

Outside Britain, Oxford spelling is the de facto spelling standard used in style guides of international organizations that belong to the UN System, for example the World Health Organization, the International Labour Organization and UNESCO.


So how do you handle this as translators? Do you always stick to one spelling form (-ise), or do you try to figure out the usage of the text and adapt to -ize when appropriate?
And what about clients that ask for British English with the intent of publishing the text on the web for a global market ("International English"). Would you go with -ize for such a request?


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Karen Stokes  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 14:03
Member (2003)
French to English
Depends on the audience Aug 19, 2008

If I know I'm writing for a British audience I use -ise. One of my clients often asks for "international" English and for them that means -ize (amongst other things). As ever, if in doubt, I'd say the golden rule is to ask the client, or at least check some of their other material.

Best,

Karen


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Sabina Metcalf  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 14:03
Member (2006)
English to Russian
+ ...
Depends on the client Aug 19, 2008

I'm fickle that way:)

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Lawyer-Linguist  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 14:03
Dutch to English
+ ...
Same here ... Aug 19, 2008

Karen Stokes wrote:

If I know I'm writing for a British audience I use -ise. One of my clients often asks for "international" English and for them that means -ize (amongst other things). As ever, if in doubt, I'd say the golden rule is to ask the client, or at least check some of their other material.

Best,

Karen


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 14:03
Member (2008)
Italian to English
ise. Aug 19, 2008

I only translate into British English, my mother tongue. Therefore I use "-ise", "colour", etc.

Only Americans have American English as their mother tongue, and it's more than just a matter of spelling particular words; syntax and sentence construction can differ greatly, as can currently fashionable expressions.


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Paul Dixon  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 10:03
Portuguese to English
+ ...
Definitely -ISE Aug 19, 2008

As a British Citizen, I always use "-ise" as it has a British ring to it, unless the client specifically asks for American English.

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KSL Berlin  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 14:03
Member (2003)
German to English
+ ...
MS spelling dictionaries Aug 19, 2008

Unfortunately our friends at Microsoft put all the "-ize" variants into the UK spellcheck dictionary (as well as other US-preferred spellings), so one must check the texts manually after using the spellchecker.

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Clare Barnes  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 15:03
Swedish to English
+ ...
only -ise Aug 19, 2008

I always use -ise and I only translate into BE... and I also resent Microsoft's attempt to hijack BE spelling!!

/Clare


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Jenny Forbes  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:03
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
"ise" for UK, "ize" for America Aug 19, 2008

Most of the time I use "ise" because I usually translate into English English. I'm occasionally asked to use American English, in which case I use "ize".
However, I've recently translated a book for a British publisher in which the British editor specifically asked me to use "ize". He had a personal dislike of "ise", so of course I complied (I didn't want to antagonIZE him) ...
For what it's worth, the popular British TV words and numbers game Countdown (soon to leave our screens?) accepts both "ise" and "ize".
Jenny.


[Edited at 2008-08-19 19:54]


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Steven Capsuto  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 09:03
Spanish to English
+ ...
Depends on the client and on the job Aug 19, 2008

I'm American but I do a lot of work for British clients. I always ask which they want.

Some prefer -ise, some want -ize, and one agency varies it depending on which end client assigned them the job.

[Edited at 2008-08-19 20:37]


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Harry Bornemann  Identity Verified
Mexico
English to German
+ ...
How arbitrary is it? Aug 19, 2008

On LEO.org, the largest online dictionary for En De, I usually find both -ise and -ize versions for BE or AE.

While I am not really surprised to find only "size" and no "sise", it irritates me that I find only "compromise" and no "compromize".

Although Google finds 45,900 "compromize", I suspect it to be slang, because there are 42,400,000 "compromise", roughly 100 times more..



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Neil Cross
United Kingdom
Local time: 14:03
Member (2006)
Dutch to English
+ ...
I use "-ise", reluctantly... Aug 19, 2008

Jan,

That's an interesting question.

I use "-ise" etc., because 99.9% of UK English speakers believe (incorrectly) that "-ize" is unacceptable in UK English - including, it would appear, some of my esteemed colleagues above.

Back in the dim and distant, when I were a lad, I was taught that both "-ise" and "-ize" were correct in UK English, but only "-ize" in US English. Personally, I preferred "-ize", partly out of respect for my alma mater, partly for aesthetic reasons, and partly for reasons of etymology ("-ize" etc. being derived from the Greek).

Unfortunately, at some point in the late 80s / early 90s, an unnamed functionary within Microsoft decided that only the "-ise" form was correct in UK English and that henceforth the various "-ize" forms would have a red line under them in the UK version of Microsoft Word. Almost at a stroke, centuries of precedent went straight out the window and the entire (or so it would seem) UK population cravenly toed the line (even linguists, who should have known better).

Poor old Microsoft must have got(ten) quite a lot of stick from pedants like me, coz in the latest versions of Office the "-ize" versions are now (quite rightly) deemed acceptable in UK English. The damage, however, has been done and this is merely a classic case of closing the stable door after the horse has bolted. That unnamed functionary within Microsoft has probably had the greatest influence on English orthography since Noah Webster!

This whole issue would be (and no doubt has been) an excellent subject for a doctoral thesis.

So, Jan, to answer your question: I stick reluctantly to the "-ise" form, to avoid the censure of the ignorant...

Kind regards,

Neil


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xxxJPW  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:03
Spanish to English
+ ...
Use one or other, but not a mixture of both. Aug 19, 2008

Harry wrote:

How arbitrary is it?

On LEO.org, the largest online dictionary for En De, I usually find both -ise and -ize versions for BE or AE.

While I am not really surprised to find only "size" and no "sise", it irritates me that I find only "compromise" and no "compromize".

Although Google finds 45,900 "compromize", I suspect it to be slang, because there are 42,400,000 "compromise", roughly 100 times more..


However, there are some that simply must be spelled (spelt?) correctly: e.g. surprise and "He won first prize" -- you would never see someone advocating an alternate spelling as 'surprize' or 'prise', would you?

I suspect that the 46 thousand or so hits for 'compromize' is not a question of slang, but are from pages where there are a trillion and one other spelling mistaiks (groan)....

Other ones to watch out for are:

Skeptical, analyze, paralyze, practice (verb), license (noun) in the USA

Sceptical, analyse, paralyse, practise (verb), licence (noun) in the UK (and elsewhere).

There are many more too.


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Harry Bornemann  Identity Verified
Mexico
English to German
+ ...
Darned exceptions.. Aug 19, 2008

John Paul Weir wrote:
-- you would never see someone advocating an alternate spelling as 'surprize' or 'prise', would you?

However:
En: prize [naut.] - in wartime seized or captured ship
De: die Prise (from French)

Other examples for De versions:
resource = Ressource,
apartment = Appartement (my favourite, because it is written like French and pronounced like English, in German. And as if this would not be enough, the German Appartement (= 1 room + 1 bathroom) is called "studio" in French, while the German Studio is where you make art or films..



[Edited at 2008-08-19 23:01]


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 14:03
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Apt. Aug 19, 2008

I hate "apartment". In British English it's still "flat" although (real) (or false) estate-agent-speak now seems to have inculcated many Brits (British people) to adopt the American "apartment".

I would never invite a friend to my London "apartment". They'd think I had become vulgar. They might fear that I had adopted estuary English (try explaining what that is in American English).

On the other hand, when in New York I am perfectly happy to stay in my friend Lois's (Lois'?) apartment.


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