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Spelling the extra letter? The case of Australian English: Surveying spelling variation across generations in Australian English

  • Minna Korhonen

Spelling variation is something that all English users often come across and Australians are no exception. The Langscape 1 survey conducted in 1998 examined a number of lexemes with more than one spelling in a number of varieties of English including Australian English (AusE). This study presents the results of two later surveys that were conducted online in 2005 and 2013 and included a selection of the lexemes also examined in the Langscape survey. The present study concentrates on two types of spelling variation: the spelling of the classical digraphs ae/oe as in aesthetic and diarrhoea and the preservation of e before suffixes as in likeable and judgement. The purpose is to see if the spelling of ‘the extra letter’ is preferred or whether the simpler spellings are becoming more common in Australian English. The possible American English (AmE) influence also comes into question as it has been shown by previous research that Americans are more likely to use the shorter spellings than either British English (BrE) or Australian English users (see, for example, Peters 1998 for the results of the first Langscape survey).

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BBC Voices. Online at <>.
Dialect Topography Project. Online at <>.
Fowler, H. W. 1926. A Dictionary of Modern English Usage. London: Oxford University Press.
Murray-Smith, S. 1987. Right Words. A Guide to English Usage in Australia. Ringwood: Viking Penguin Books Australia.
Peters, P. 1995. The Cambridge Australian English Style Guide. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Peters, P. 1998. ‘The extra letter: a report on the LANGSCAPE 1 questionnaire.’ English Today, 14(4), 612.
Peters, P. 2001. ‘Kaleidoscope: A final report on the worldwide Langscape Project.’ English Today, 17(1), 920.
Style Manual. 6th ed. 2002. Milton, QLD: John Wiley & Sons.
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English Today
  • ISSN: 0266-0784
  • EISSN: 1474-0567
  • URL: /core/journals/english-today
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