I recently picked up the London Times and noticed the unexpected spelling of certain verbs. The Oxford English Dictionary spells words such as “colonize” and “modernize” with a “z”, yet The Times spells those words “colonise” and “modernise”. When did The Times convert these spellings, and why?
In the great -ize versus -ise debate, The Times has opted latterly for simplicity over a sort of erudition. When I joined the paper in the late 1980s, my severely limited grasp of Xenophon from schooldays and scrape pass at O level came in useful. The rule at the newspaper was that any verb said by the etymological experts to derive from Ancient Greek and with a zeta in the suffix got the -ize treatment in English. But in the Style Guide of 1992, the following entry appeared: “-ise, -isation : avoid the z construction in almost all cases. This is volcanic ground, with common usage straining the crust of classical etymology. This guidance is a revision of the Greek zeta root ending in the direction of a Latin ending and common usage: apologise, organise, emphasise, televise, circumcise. The only truly awkward result is capsize, which should be left in its Grecian peace.”
The Oxford University Press has long strived to maintain the difference. One of my battered copies of The Oxford Dictionary for Writers and Editors from 1981 gives the pragmatic advice that -ize should be used “in preference in -ise as a verbal ending where both spellings are in use”. It goes on to give a small list of words where -ise should be used, including arise, chastise, disguise, prise (in the sense of open), and televise. These are often words that do not have a suffix in the strict sense we are using here, where the -ize/-ise conveys the meaning of causing to become, resemble, etc.
The Collins dictionary says of this debate: “In Britain and the US, -ize is the preferred ending for many verbs, but -ise is equally acceptable in British English.” So there you have it. Three cheers for laissez-faire consistency.
One group of words that I think are always wrong if given the -z- either side of the Pond are “analyze”, “electrolyze” and the like. In the Greek, the ending has a sigma, so they should be spelt “analyse”, “electrolyse”, etc. But even words conveying the sense of breaking down should not be the catalysts/catalyzts for broken hearts/heartz or special relationships/zpecial relationzhipz.
Richard Dixon, Chief Revise Editor, The Times
How accurate are the forecasts on the Pools Panel? Has anyone missed a large win based on the actual results when the games were eventually played?
Bearing in mind that the Pools Panel gives forecasts on matches that in many instances are only played weeks, if not months, after they have been postponed — and that form changes so quickly — its 50 per cent success rate is highly commendable.
While I have no knowledge of any “would have been winners”, I know that since 1963 many fortunes have been won due to the collective knowledge of the Pools Panel.