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Multiple times I have seen people 'correcting' British English words and terms in a question to their American equivalent. Words like colour are changed to color and customisation is changed to customization. No matter how big the US is, British English is still the world language and the main language on the interweb. I get that they automatically use their own grammar in their own questions, but editing other people's questions to fit their grammar seems a bit odd to me. Why do people feel the need to do that?

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  • Lol, I got in trouble for doing the opposite. :) By mistake, btw. – anonymous2 Jan 25 '17 at 23:00
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    Re "original" English: 'Original' English hasn't been spoken by any nation for nearly a millenium. If you study etymology, you will find that the modern American spelling is sometimes actually the older one and the modern British version is a more recent change. It works both ways at times, but neither is 'original' in any meaningful sense. As far as number of speakers is concerned, there are more than twice as many native speakers of American English than all other native English speakers put together. Of course, you're right that people shouldn't edit others' posts to change dialects. – reirab Jan 26 '17 at 6:46
  • @reirab While that may be entirely true, that's not what i meant by 'Original English'. I mean the English that is the world language, which is spoken here. It's a bit confusing to name that English English isn't it? Also, if the english would decide to change the word 'car' to 'vroomvroom-device' we'd also have to use that word, even when the american word 'car' is older, because English is the world language. That's the language taught in Dutch, German, and French schools, or any other school outside America.(Canada may be an exception..) I bet they outnumber the americans by the way. – Bart Jan 26 '17 at 8:29
  • I think you will find that basically all linguists call what you're referring to 'British English,' not 'original English.' – reirab Jan 26 '17 at 15:56
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    @reirab That was the word i was looking for. But i'm not a linguist. – Bart Jan 26 '17 at 16:02
  • I corrected tyre to tire before realizing tyre was somewhat correct. In my defense, isn't stackexchange based out of the USA (New York)... And since when was "original (british) english ... the main language on the interweb"? where is the source on that? – Tim Penner Jan 28 '17 at 2:34
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    As a Brit who has worked with American engineers for decades, I'm not bothered about their spelling, but on many internet forums (including this one) I'm more bothered by the unthinking assumption that everything related to motoring (including law, insurance, etc) is the same world-wide as it is in the USA. – alephzero Jan 29 '17 at 21:19
  • @alephzero Yeah i have noticed that, too. I think that's a culture thing of them. A bit similar to how we westerners as a whole, often assume other countries cultures have the same customs regarding handshakes, greetings etc. (The other way around also applies, of course.) – Bart Jan 30 '17 at 7:42
  • "The English that is the world language"? There's no such thing. English is a language with many dialect poles. British English is one of them, but it has no special status. There is no single official "World English" where BE spellings are right and AmE's are wrong. I do support your right to use spellings and words that are considered correct where you live, but I'm detecting a desire to go a bit further than that, and that I can't support. – T.E.D. Jan 30 '17 at 19:31
  • @T.E.D. The question was predominantly about people changing British English to American English. Or the grammar, to be more specific. And British English may have no official status, but it is the dialect taught in schools and used in companies as second language (almost) everywhere. So i think you could say that that is the world language, or the most common one at least. – Bart Jan 31 '17 at 7:32
  • @Bart - Variants of AmE dialect are taught in the Philippines, some in China and Brazil, and many other countries that primarily do business with the USA. So yes, this the world language thing is just flat out wrong. – T.E.D. Jan 31 '17 at 13:35
  • @T.E.D. Right, a few countries also teach AmE for use in business relations with the US. Here in Europe all countries use BE, whether it's schools, companies or whatever. Communication between companies here and China, South America and such, are done in BE. But you're completely losing the point of the question, which was about correcting dialects. I don't get why you're going in on that so hard, while someone else already adressed that point. Let's end this useless discussion. – Bart Jan 31 '17 at 13:57
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    It's possible that some users don't even realize that there are completely different ways that people spell words in English. They might genuinely think they are spelling errors. That's what I thought they were when I first encountered British English. – Kodos Johnson Feb 2 '17 at 3:26
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To be quite honest, these types of edits should not be approved. To me it boils down to a term called "local color" (or local colour in your case, @Bart :o). While Stack Exchange is (for the most part) supposed to happen in English, the rules don't dictate "American" or "British" or "Whathaveyou" English. As long as we can read it, there shouldn't be an issue with you (or anyone) using "tyre" instead of "tire", or even "bonnet" for "hood". As long as the version used can be read and understood, it should not be changed.

A bit in people's defense, this is more of a reactionary change than it is to try and mess with someone (in the vast majority of the cases, anyway). I'd bet most people don't even realize they are doing it. They see something, which in their mind, is spelled wrong, and find the need to fix it. They don't give thought to where the other person is from or what have you. It was a mental bridge which I had to cross at one time, but I do think about it now before I arbitrarily just change something.

There is one caveat and that has to do with tagging. We should not have multiple tags for the same thing. There was a tag war which occurred a while back because of the use of instead of . While both are understood to be the same thing, the use of two different tags for the same thing muddles the waters. Because of this, it was decided to use the American version of with being a synonym. While this didn't sit well with a few people, it was done in an effort to conform to one standard and one tag so stuff could be more easily found. It has nothing to do with which is right or wrong, because neither is.

If I see it happening, I will rollback the edit. If you see it happening to your posts, I'd suggest you do the same.

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  • Good answer. I suppose it's different for me since english is my second language. Dutch, my native language, works completely different. I think these kind of grammar differences will be noticed quicker by non-native speakers because they read the same text different. Same goes for they're/their or you're/your. As a non-native speaker they're two completely different words. Probably it's not so obvious for a lot of natives. Luckily those mistakes aren't made often here. – Bart Jan 23 '17 at 21:06
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    @Bart - You mention "they're" and "their" ... while it isn't obvious to some native English speakers, it should be. I make the mistake sometimes when I'm typing really fast and trying to get something out (like with texts or even emails), but I will invariably catch it upon reading it again ... usually after I've sent it, of course! – Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 Jan 23 '17 at 21:33
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I would consider localization-related edits to be too minor to approve, since they don't really add much value.

That said, it may be that the edits are coming from individuals who don't realize that there is more than one way to spell "customise", so I wouldn't make a big deal out of it.

If it bothers you and the edit is made to your own post, my suggestion would be to roll back the edit and not think twice about it.

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  • I agree that it's unnecessary to correct american english to original english, but the other way round is a bit odd. It's probably because most or at least many of the users here are from the US. But I thought most of them would know the difference between english and american english. – Bart Jan 23 '17 at 18:08
  • @Bart - A lot of people just don't understand, while it's more of a knee jerk reaction to others. Please see my answer I've posted. – Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 Jan 23 '17 at 19:32
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    @Bart When the political leaders of a country think that "Africa is a country" or "Belgium is a European city," don't over-estimate how much the less well educated citizens know about anything outside their own back yard. (And don't forget they need to use names like "Paris, France," in case everybody in the world thinks they are talking about Paris, Texas.) – alephzero Jan 29 '17 at 21:16
  • @alephzero Haha that's a good point! A really sad one actually, regarding the politicians. – Bart Jan 30 '17 at 7:35
  • @alephzero Doesn't everyone know that Belgium is the rudest word in the universe? en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Belgium – Nick C Jan 30 '17 at 11:08
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    @alephzero Just pronounce the names properly and I'm pretty sure that nobody will confuse Paris, Texas, United States of America for Paris, France! A little hard to do in text, admittedly. – user Feb 2 '17 at 14:45

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