Brits, Americanisms and corporate image - Business Works
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Brits, Americanisms and corporate image

by Dr Nick Smith, Principal, Oxford Home Schooling Over half (54%) of Brits find American spellings frustrating and think they are harmful for the British language (51%), according to Dr Nick Smith, Principal at Oxford Home Schooling. An interesting piece of research that may impact on your organisation's image and the way your messages are received by your stakeholders.

Our research looked into the importance people place on British spellings and attitudes towards Americanisms being used in everyday life. Brits are passionate that our own standards are taught from an early age with over eight in ten (85%) stating it's important for children to learn the importance of British spellings and over two thirds (67%) believing it's unacceptable to use American spellings at school.

In the business world, it is considered unacceptable to use Americanisms are on CVs (71%), in newspapers (55%), at work (52%) and even on greetings cards (43%). We looked at the most common words that people make mistakes with and created a list of the most difficult American spellings to identify. The top ten most difficult to recognise are (US spelling followed by UK in brackets):

  1. Encyclopedia (encyclopaedia)

  2. Skillful (skilful)

  3. Pretense (pretence)

  4. Offense (offence)

  5. Cozy (cosy)

  6. Sulfate (sulphate) - although scientists would disagree as the US spelling is internationally recognised in the scientific world (by IUPAC)

  7. Defense (defence)

  8. Meter (metre)

  9. Cesarean (caesarean)

  10. Appetizer (appetiser)

Just 10% of those polled correctly identified all the American spellings in the list.

Interestingly, men are more accepting than women of the move towards American spellings as we adopt more transatlantic traditions in our culture (15% v 20%). This is despite men also being better at adhering to British spellings standards, with more women failing to recognise mistakes in words such as 'pajamas', 'favorite', 'theater' and 'diarrhea'.

The study found that Brits feel TV shows (39%), Facebook and Twitter (36%) and American films (35%) have had the biggest impact on our British spellings. With eight out of ten of Netflix's most binged TV shows originating from across the pond it's little wonder their spellings and words are finding their way into our dialogue.

Another of our studeis explains further why some of us struggle to spot American spellings. Those surveyed said that they use auto-correct (58%) most often to avoid spelling mistakes, compared to 45% that use a traditional dictionary, despite auto-correct recognising both American and British variations.

It's clear Brits feel passionate about teaching children the importance of British spelling standards, however many of them failed to spot American spellings themselves. It's relatively easy to brush up on spelling ability at any age through reading, lessons at school or distance learning as an adult.

If you want to have a go and test yourself, try our quiz of some of the most common spelling mistakes.

For more information, please visit: Oxford Home Schooling

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