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English Spelling Variation and Change in Newspapers in Mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan: Which English spelling system is preferred in the Chinese news media: British or American?


English spelling has a reputation for being notoriously difficult to learn, whether for native speakers of English or for those who learn it as an additional language. An additional problem for EFL learners is that there are two somewhat different systems to choose between: the British system and the American one. As Bondesen (2004: 4) points out, ‘although the two spelling systems are much more similar than they are different, there is variation between them.’ (For surveys of some of the main differences see Trudgill & Hannah, 1994; Carney, 1997.) The spelling discrepancies between the two varieties are systematic, and originate in large part from American spelling reform as a symbol of ‘linguistic independence’ (Knowles, 1997), and from the work of early American linguists such as Benjamin Franklin and Noah Webster. The aim of this article is to investigate the spelling preferences of English users in a few regions outside Britain and the United States, and to establish whether any clear patterns of regional variation are discernible.

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This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

K. Bolton 2000. ‘The sociolinguistics of Hong Kong and the space for Hong Kong English.’ World Englishes, 19(3), 265–85.

E. Carney 1997. English Spelling. New York: Routledge.

A. Danielewicz-Betz & D. Graddol 2014. ‘Varieties of English in the urban landscapes of Hong Kong and Shenzhen.’ English Today, 30(3), 2232.

J. Jin 2005. ‘Which is better in China, a local or a native English-speaking teacher?English Today, 21(3), 3946.

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English Today
  • ISSN: 0266-0784
  • EISSN: 1474-0567
  • URL: /core/journals/english-today
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