why does U.S spelling omit the 'u'?

from a vast majority of words.

i was having this debate with a couple of american friends who had no clear explanation. one went ‘you say potato, i say tomato’ some such thing. tried to do a little digging but came up with naught. is the ‘u’ a terrible letter or simply unnecessary?

what do you call a ‘U’ turn then?

Quick answer: Noah Webster and his dictionary. Struck by the inconsistencies of the English language, he changed the –ce in words like defence, offence, and pretence to –se; abandoned the second, silent “l” in verbs such as travel and cancel when forming the past tense; dropped the “u” from words such as humour and colour; and dropped the “k” from words such as publick and musick.

Americans made a valiant attempt at fixing the awfulness of British spelling, largely beginning with Noah Webster, the guy whose mug graces the cover of many dictionaries.

While most attempts at radical spelling reform failed, certain changes like dropping superfluous U’s and making proper use of Z’s (zees, not zeds!) ended up sticking.

When Noah Webster was writing his dictionary, the US was working on developing an identity separate from Britain and coincidentally, he was interested in spelling reform to make a more user-friendly orthographic system. He was actually much more extensive in what he wanted to do but the dropped U, the reversed ER at the end of words, and -ize instead of -ise, along with a few other changes were the ones that stuck.

And we call it a U-turn. We still have the vowel, we just don’t use it as much.

We call it a U-turn. We are not allergic to the letter U.

Americans are just regular people like anyone else, I promise.

phonetically though, the ‘u’ is necessary but if it is not translated into the spelling mode this confuses kids later on.

cool people imo. i guess a lot is culture based as well when discussing language. the english language and all its nuances is a hard call to learn.

I don’t know what you mean by phonetically necessary, but let me reassure you, whatever confusion there may be, it is slight and easily remedied.

No more or less than any other language, give or take a year. Primary language acquisition, to the best of my knowledge, is pretty consistent across cultures and languages.

There are plenty more confusing parts of the English language than that. It really only comes up in a few common words which are easy enough to learn.

“Though the tough cough and hiccough plough him through.”

Well, there’s your problem. There’s not really just one set-in-stone English language.

English grammar (particularly spelling) didn’t ever really get properly settled before the US broke away from England. While that affected Canada and Australia to a lesser extent than the US, it made for distinct differences in spelling and usage between the two nations.

And based on your own usage, it appears you innately understand that English spelling, grammar, and punctuation are constantly in flux, though it’s not entirely clear you understand that it’s not just the Americans responsible for that flux.

Of course US spelling doesn’t omit the “u” from “a vast majority of words.” The only major instance is that mentioned previously, simplifying the combination “ou” to “o” in some words.

Noah Webster made many other changes to American spelling, some of which caught on, and some of which didn’t.

language is ever evolving.

like the guy who posted in text talk. who knows in a hundred years what will happen, are we all destined to go that way? why say ‘thanks’ when you can say thanx? my first language is not english btw it is french.

Forget the ‘U’, what’s with you guys and your ‘Zed’?!? Zed? Who’s that? A friend of ‘Naught’ no doubt… :smiley:

We might have been facing that future at one point, but I think the danger to traditional spelling has mostly passed since all the portable electronics that people were text-speak-typing on now offer autocomplete typing with pretty damn complete dictionaries.

What’s with you Americans and all your capital letters?

Many have cited Noah Webster already. As my medieval music professor used to like to point out, dictionaries and “correct spellings” were largely a product of the 19th century. Idiosyncrasies were found all over the place.

As for the ‘u’, I’d guess that it came over via Norman French. The real question for my mind would be why it was colour and not “coulor.”

zed’s dead baby. zed’s dead 555. ( pulp fiction)

and its arse not ass.

A hundred years ago spelling reform was all the rage among intellectuals. A Simplified Spelling Board started in the U.S. and a Simplified Spelling Association in Britain. They would definitely have predicted we’d be using thanx today.

But they couldn’t sell it to the public. Spelling is typically far more conservative than usage, and people hated having to relearn simple, familiar words. You can argue that today’s variations are coming up from the bottom and so have a better chance of sticking and I wouldn’t disagree. But there’s no good reason for there not to be two parallel systems, one for keyboard speak and one for more formal communication of longer thoughts and more difficult ideas. A few words will probably cross over so that either variant will be acceptable. A few words always do that, and have always done that even before leet speak and cell phones.

Whatever happens over the next few years probably will have no more effect on the language 100 years from now than technological changes from 1913 had on ours.

the great bard would be turning in his grave.

then again most of his works in today’s modern diction is unintelligible.