Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Dyslexia- American vs. British English

As if the inconsistencies in the English language which I wrote on yesterday are not enough, our Malaysian students have to cope with the differences between British English and American English. We in Malaysia have to write in British English. Teachers mark as wrong words spelt in American English.
Many of the story books read by our students are in American English. Having read the book in American English the students have to be careful to write the British English equivalent when writing essays.
This obviously is another problem encountered by children with dyslexia. They ask me why is color spelt this way when you had taught me to spell it as colour . Again, am I going to teach them the rules for distinguishing between American and British English? Even I get frustrated with the computer underlining words I am sure are right. (I'll have to get my son, Hakim, to adjust my computer to British English when he comes home during his holidays.)

Some examples in differences are:
  1. color vs colour; neighbor vs.neighbour; flavor vs.flavour etc. This is quite easy to differentiate but my point is that a dyslexic student has to learn yet another rule.
  2. Center vs.centre;meter vs.metre;fiber vs.fibre etc.
  3. dialog vs.dialogue;monolog vs.monologue etc.
  4. specialize vs specialise ; memorize vs. memorise etc.
  5. pediatrician vs paediatrician
  6. traveling vs travelling (another one of my nightmares)
  7. airplane vs aeroplane.
  8. mustache vs moustache
  9. mom vs.mum
There are many more variants but this is enough to drive my point home, I guess.
Many of the signboards here use American English and many adults here use American English for many words not realizing (now is that supposed to be an s or z) that it is not the correct spelling in British English e.g center and fiber.
Please leave your comments. It will be greatly appreciated.


Anonymous said...

I find the spellings of American and British English very difficult. As you say BE is usually required while many books in overseas countries are in AE. My friend finds this in Hong Kong as well.

In England there are other frustrations such as companies who think it is a good gimmick to mispell their name. For example 'Kwikfit' the tyre fitters. When children are very small they have a logographic (sight only) memory for 2,000 words.

The first things they learn to see & say are 'McDonalds' when they see the iconic golden arch. You can see why using flash cards from an early age might be useful even though it is not real reading. This is used later for difficult reading words (although any word is problematic for those with visual dyslexia!)

Sharon Tringham SpLD Dip. (Hornsby)

Luqman Michel said...

Hi Sharon. Thank you. The thought about companies misspelling names did come to my mind and I wanted to mention it but somehow it slipped.It is true here in Malaysia too. That is another problem for all children is it not? If a child see that every day he may end up believing that spelling to be correct.