British English may have come first, but around the world, the American way of spelling is now far more popular.
A recent examination of these two variants of the English language show that publications now largely use the American version, swapping words like ‘centre’ for ‘center’ after the 1880s.
According to the data, this shift was further strengthened around the time of World War I – and as the language evolved, even the British have ditched the spelling of some words for their trans-Atlantic counterparts.
The charts revealed on Steemit were generated using Google Ngram Viewer, and show the usage trends of numerous words between 1800 and 2000. In the graphs, American spelling is shown in blue, and the British version is indicated in red.
Among many words, including ‘grey’ and ‘flavour,’ British English can be seen dwindling around 1880, when American English began to cross into wider use.
Since then, English-language publications have preferred ‘gray’ and ‘flavor,’ and despite fluctuations in use over the years, they’ve remained more popular than the preceding versions since overtaking them.
The American way of spelling has continued to grow in usage over the years, with ‘liter’ passing ‘litre’ around 1900, and ‘center’ becoming the more common choice over ‘centre’ in 1913.
‘1913 marked a turning point in the usage of the British spelling, as the American alternative became more frequently used in literature,’ the post explains, in regards to 'center.'
‘This was just a year before the beginning of World War I, which many view as a key period in America’s rise to superpower status.’
During World War I, the world also began to favor ‘defense’ over the British English version, ‘defence.’
Though this switched again between 1920 and the late 1930s, the American spelling took over for good around 1940.
Around the same time, use of the spelling ‘airplane’ spiked dramatically over ‘aeroplane,’ and continued to dominate through the century.
For many years, British English maintained its hold on ‘honour,’ grappling with the American version for years as the two flip-flopped in popularity around the world.
In the 1970s, however, American English gained a clear lead as ‘honor’ increasingly became the more spelling of choice.
‘If there were ever a word that failed to make it across the Atlantic, it must be ‘gaol,’ the post says.
‘Ever since the middle of the 19th century it has been fading into obscurity as even the British Isles slowly rejected the old spelling.’