Yes, I Spell It With A “Z”

The Dish get emails like this one almost every day:

As a native American-English speaker, Dish subscriber and long-time editor at The Washington Post, I beseech you: Stop spelling “advertise” with a Z! Perhaps you are under the mistaken impression that “advertize” is the Americanized version of the word. It’s not. The British and American spellings are the same: ADVERTISE. Ugh.

I can’t really explain it. I’ve tried to stop it, and then it just comes out. An external memo to all my fellow Dishies: stop me before I do it again. Sometimes, I get spelling wrong because of what’s left of my British accent/vocab. Again, I never really decided one day to wake up and start speaking like an American. I just tend to pick up the pronunciations of those around me, largely because I want to be understood. It really shifted when I was hired to teach undergrads at Harvard. After saying the word “ArristOTTle” in almost one guttural English syllable to blank stares one day, I shifted gears. From then on, it was four syllables, took twice as long to say, and went something like this: “Aarristattle.” Suddenly they understood. Not the Nicomachean Ethics, just the name of the author.

But the spelling thing must be some kind of mental glitch I can’t quite shake. I realise that now.