back to article MS polishes UK dialect dictionaries

Microsoft is calling for final contributions to its UK dialect dictionaries - due for free release in July. The plan is to prevent its spellcheckers picking out non-Redmond terminology, the BBC reports, thereby eliminating the wtf? redlining of un-American vocab. The idea was spawned in Oz, and later adopted in Blighty. MS UK …


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  1. Chad H.

    Does this mean?

    Next time windows crashes we'll get something like this: "I say there old chap, I seemed to have filled up all me memory, could you be a star and hiot the reset button? Cheers!"

  2. M

    Need Additional of...

    Rather spiffy idea eh what what?

  3. kaiserb_uk

    Old chestnut

  4. Britt Johnston

    Wo', no dialects?

    The very idea of dialects has been suppressed for yonks, so it isn't so surprising that they are not well captured, or even that an interested American party is running the project.

    I consider it the defining contribution of John Major that dialects have been allowed to surface.

    German publisher DTV has a paperback dictionary assigning interesting words on regional maps. This Swiss internet page can tell which valley you were born in, from how you say ten key words.

    Academic circles have done some digging, however. Bill Bryson in Mother Tongue mentions that regional ordering didn't work well in English, and blamed family migration.

    My instant test will be the act of making tea, which was "char bashing" where I grew up.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hello Little Weed

    I'm wracking my brain here, but didn't Microsoft ditch UK English regionalisation for (thinks) XP, or Windows 2000, or something quite large, a few years ago? Because it was too much effort to change all the dialogue boxes etc to say "colour" instead of "color". Perhaps I dreamed it.

  6. Dillon Pyron

    More than one dictionary at the same time?

    Will I be able to use both the American and the British dictionary at the same time? I get docs from the UK and really don't want to be bugged about tyre, metre, centre and colour. I can read them, I don't know why Word shouldn't be able to.

  7. Lynsey Burton

    Stottie cake

    Stottie cake does not mean 'bread roll', tsk. We use 'bun' for that. Stotties are a type of bread, but ha'way man, anyone knaas that, daft knackas!

  8. Barry

    English (UK) - Grrrrrr!

    Ever time I see my *variation* of English listed as 'English (British)' (or similar) within a Microsoft product, I shudder.

    Our English, is English period, as they would say across the pond.

    *Your* English is 'English (American)'.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The Hated Menu

    Does that mean they'll finally fix the stupid Internet Explorer menu to read "Favourites"?

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Multiple dictionaries and dialects

    You already can use multiple dictionaries in Office, you just load them up. What matters is the language a document is marked up as - if the text claims to be in US English but has UK spellings, it will mark them as incorrect and vice versa.

    Many people have their install screwed up and thinking it is US so everything defaults to US English (and letter size paper to halt the print queue for giggles).

    I even used to have a button to convert the page size and language of an inherited or inbound document to British before I even bothered to start working on it.

    As to dialect, it seems that MS don't want all the weird and wonderful phonetic spellings that aim to accurately imitiate wor cuzzens from tha' Nurth (or whatever). They are looking for _words_ which have regional meaning, such as the bready-made example given (couldn't resist). I actually have a book somewhere which maps many of these out so you know whether the locals have dinner at teatime or lunch at dinnertime (see the mess this can cause?). As well as choice variations for gipsy=gippo=pikey, different terms for a back passage (no sniggering - I mean an alleyway, ginnel or snicket) and ones which only come up in a few areas (cf grockle and emmet in the SW).

    I'm all for it, just waiting to see how many new entries this gets in the dictionary.

  11. Andy S

    sorely lacking bready example

    If Yorkshire did indeed contribute, I am shocked at the omission of the humble teacake from the list :)

  12. Carl

    correct spelling of words ending in -ize

    I'm waiting for MS to realize that British ("proper") English allows, indeed prefers according to the OED, words to end in -ize rather than -ise. I have to set my dictionary to US English to avoid all those words getting little red squiggly lines under them, with the obvious effect that it puts red squiggly lines under "colour" instead.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Carl - you mean -ise

    "...words to end in -ize rather than -ise." should be the other way around.

  14. Some Guy

    English (British)

    Sorry, but the rest of the world don't recognize the current language spoken in the UK as the only true and correct English.

    At one time, we all had the same root language (not spoken anywhere today). Since then it has evolved on different branches, of which English (British) is only one.

  15. Joe

    @Some Guy

    I think what Barry was complaining about was that US English is often simply called "English" in software - certainly in Mac OS X - and the others are listed as "Canadian English", "British English", etc.

    In the past, though, I've seen English labelled as "International" in some software! Now talk about presumptuous...

  16. Ken Hagan Gold badge

    English (El Reg)

    I hope you chaps and chappesses are preparing a submission. It would be a tragedy if the new dictionary were missing such gems as "mobe".

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    American (Englsih?)

    As Noel Coward said, they (the Americans) have n't spoken it for years. Other definitions include "English as spoken by foreigners", hence the half-German grammar in some places. Anyway, the USA is fast moving to Spanish (Central American).

    Like it or not, English is the language of the British Isles; "Americanisms" stem from its adoption as a world language and the iniquities of Webster trying to differentiate it from English. I suppose my bad German, and worse French are spoken interanationally and so invalidate those languages as just "German" or "French"?

    A rare positive note about MS from a MAC OS fan: at least MS tries to use the chosen language throughout the system. MAC OS is very half-hearted in its "British" settings, including wrong default paper sizes and has infuriating American accents in its speech mode (e.g. for speaking the time) whatever region one chooses.

    UBUNTU Linux is great: even renames that ugly "trash" to a civilised name.

  18. Rob

    'bout time

    "In the past, though, I've seen English labelled as "International" in some software! Now talk about presumptuous..." That's Adobe, when you flick to international you notice the website link in terms and agreement on install changes to uk version of their site.

    Looking forward to this as it might mean MS Voice Command UK version might actually recognise what I'm saying, the amount of times I have phoned Vets when I actually wanted to phone my wife (read into that what you will, but don't speak it aloud :)

  19. Carl

    no, I mean -ize

    Check the Oxford English Dictionary, or Fowler's "Modern English Usage". -ize is the preferred form in British English, except for some specific words (e.g. advertise, advise)

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    re: @Carl - you mean -ise

    i think you'll find Carl is correct. the proper and prefered British spelling is ize. check out a copy of the Oxford English Dictionary. It is a book. With real printed words. On paper. In physical shops.

    Michael Quinion an author and major contributor to the OED writes,

    The broad rule is that the -ize forms are standard in the US, but that -ise ones are now usual in Britain and the Commonwealth in all but formal writing. For example, all British newspapers use the -ise forms; so do most magazines and most non-academic books published in the UK. However, some British publishers insist on the -ize forms (Oxford University Press especially), as do many academic journals and a few other publications (the SF magazine Interzone comes to mind). Most British dictionaries quote both forms, but — despite common usage — put the -ize form first.

    The original form, taken from Greek via Latin, is -ize. That’s the justification for continuing to spell words that way (it helps that we say the ending with a z sound). American English standardised on the -ize ending when it was universal. However, French verbs from the same Latin and Greek sources all settled on the s form and this has been a powerful influence on British English. The change by publishers in the UK has happened comparatively recently, only beginning about a century ago (much too recently to influence American spelling), though you can find occasional examples of the -ise form in texts going back to the seventeenth century.

    I like the -ise forms myself, in part because being British I was brought up to spell them that way, but also because then I don’t have to remember the exceptions. There are some verbs that must be spelled with -ise because the ending is a compound one, part of a larger word, and isn’t an example of the suffix. An example is compromise, where the ending is -mise, from Latin missum, something sent or placed. Some other examples spelled -ise are verbs formed from nouns that have the s in the stem, such as advertise or televise.

    At the risk of sounding like a style guide, but in the hope you may find them useful for reference, these are the words always spelled in -ise, whatever your local rule about the rest: advertise, advise, apprise, chastise, circumcise, comprise, compromise, demise, despise, devise, disfranchise, enfranchise, enterprise, excise, exercise, improvise, incise, premise, revise, supervise, surmise, surprise, televise.

  21. Hayden Clark


    We use both in English. The rules are somewhat arcane, but are usually held to be related to whether the root of a work is Latin or Greek (more pedantic contibutors may like to elaborate). So, we have advise, but also synthesize.

  22. Chris Matchett

    @ Some Guy

    English (British) isn't a branch.

    English (English) is the root.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    From BBC's news site:

    "Microsoft has extended its original end-of-May deadline, giving people one extra week to submit words, said Ms Boswell. "

    Published on the 13th of June, two weeks after the original deadline, hence one week after the revised deadline.


    Carl, correct versions of the OED do indeed list "-ize" as the primary form (and "-ise" as a variant). However, I understand that Oxford have revised their guidelines in the face of overwhelming evidence that the majority of the UK write "-ise" and will be changing this in future editions. After all, the dictionary's editorial remit is to record English, not define it.

  24. Carl

    regardless of the merits of -ize vs -ise...

    ...both are correct in (British) English. So Office shouldn't throw a wobbly if I choose to use "randomize" instead of "randomise". The only way to stop it doing this is to choose (US) English, but that has other problems.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I'm using Office 2003, and it seems to accept randomise, randomize, synthesize and synthesise with British English settings (no custom entries,) but only -ize in US settings. Personally I feel happier with -ise, but it seems of little concern compared to a lot of what's out there nowadays :)

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