Just a quick note. I was chatting with colleagues about whether “realize”, “generalize” etc. are British spellings. Bill Gates and the Microsoft spell checker seem to think that these are “American” whilst “realise”, “generalise” are British. Also, various British media outlets also started to use the “ise” version as their default (starting with the Times in the early 90s, but now followed by other newspapers and the BBC). This has always puzzled me, as I have always used the “ize” spelling. “Nationalize”, “Optimize”, “Privatize” and so on.

The truth is that “ise” is un-American and almost 100% of US publications use “ize”. However, in Britain has been more complicated. In my family, the arbiter of correct spelling was the Oxford English Dictionary. When I look at my fathers 1951 OED edition, the only spelling of realize, generalize, nationalize etc. is the “ize” version. However, in current editions it states that whilst “ize” is preferred, “ise” is an alternative. The truth is that British English has always used both versions. However, if one looks at written British over the last few hundred years, for most of the time the “ize” was the most common usage and indeed still is. However, there was a brief 50 year period , from around 1875 to 1925 when “ise” became more common. The ratio of 2:1 held before 1840 and has held since 1950 (that is two “ize” for every “ise” for words such as realize and generalize). The situation was reversed for a very brief period 1900-1914 (two ise for every ize), but between 1840 and 1950, two were more equal (exact equality being in 1875 and 1925).

So, now in 2020 we have the odd position where in the media, the use of “ise” predominates, whereas in the wider corpus the “ize” has it by a large margin. The myth that “ize” is un-British is very common, even amongst my educated fellow Academics. I personally blame Bill Gates and Microsoft for perpetuating the myth that “ise” is the correct British spelling. In reality I will stick to viewing “ize” as the correct spelling and “ise” as a second rate alternative. Alas, journal editors do not always see it that way. When my paper on the generalized Taylor economy was published in the Economic Journal in 2012, they type set it as “”generalised”. Cambridge University Press has always been contrarian on this issue. I am sure that in the long-run the Times and the BBC will eventually come to their senses and realize that the good old British “ize” has it. The fact that it is the same as in American English is surely even better.

If you want to look at the usage of words and alternative spellings, the Google Ngram is a great place to start!