1. Since I prefer British English to American English, I would like
to know if it is true that verbs (and thus their relative substantives)
ending with -ize are more used in the USA, while the British
prefer the corresponding ones ending with -ise? In a bilingual
(Italian to English) dictionary I saw that there are really few verbs
ending with -ise, like analyse, advertise, privatise, etc.,
while I could not find the corresponding -ise version of most
important verbs ending with -ize (realize, organize, etc.);
On the other hand I see them spelt as -ise in many newspapers,
magazines, scientific reviews and even in your answers to previous
questions. Please tell me if I should definitely convert to -ise.
Another question is this: what is the rule for hyphenating words,
if there is any, in expressions like, e.g., high-quality performance,
least-squares problem, etc., which you would not hyphenate if they
were not used as adjectives ( 'that material is of a high quality',
not 'high-quality'). How would one cope, for example, with an expression
like 'high and low tide-like phenomena' or 'deep seated gravitational
slope deformation phenomena'?
The last question concerns the use of articles before geographical
names: Why does one say ;the river Thames' but also 'the Hudson
river'? Why not also 'the lake Como' rather than 'lake Como'? Should
one say 'Mount Etna' or 'the Etna Mount'? Why do the speakers of
the BBC say 'the Kosovo conflict' rather than 'Kosovo conflict'
(I am sorry for this last example, but I could not think of anything
else at the moment)?
Taking your questions in order, it is generally true, Massimo, that
the American preference for -ize is mirrored in British English
by a general preference for -ise, so it is perhaps useful
to standardise on one of these two patterns as far as possible.
In a standard British dictionary - e.g. the Concise Oxford - you
will often find that both options are possible in British English
- 'realise' or 'realize', 'organsise' or 'organize' - whilst for
other entries -ize is listed as unmistakably American, e.g.
'analyse' = British English, 'analyze' = American English.
you have a preference for British English in this respect, I assume
for the sake of consistency you will retain this preference for
other spelling options, e.g. 'programme', not 'program'; 'colour',
not 'color'; 'metre', not 'meter'; 'catalogue', not catalog'; 'traveller',
not traveler'. When you are reading American English, it can be
fun to spot the differences.
adjectives are usually hyphenated, so we have 'a high-quality performance',
'a ten-dollar note', a blue-eyed boy'. With multiple compounds,
it is usually the first two adjectives or the most adjective-like
that are hyphenated, so we have 'a deep-seated gravitational slope'
to use your example, or 'a high-quality virtuoso performance'.
also the pattern: 'part- and full-time jobs', 'high- and low-tide
phenomena.' However, if adjectives are placed after the verb, they
are usually not hyphenated. Compare 'an out-of-work actor', 'an
up-to-date account' and 'He was out of work', 'She was up to date.'
Referring to geographical names or areas, we tend to use the definite
seas (the Atlantic, the Pacific, the North
mountain ranges (the Alps, the Andes)
island groups (the British Isles, the West Indies)
areas (the Midlands, the Lake District, the
rivers (the Danube, the Blue Nile, the
deserts (the Gobi, the Sahara)
hotels and pubs (the Red Lion, the Grand Palace)
cinemas and theatres (the Playhouse, the Majestic)
We generally use no articles with:
continents (Africa, South America, South East Asia)
counties and countries (Oklahoma, Bulgaria, Nigeria)
towns and principal buildings (Ely Cathedral, Oxford University)
lakes (Lake Como, Lake Windermere, Derwent Water)
mountains and volcanoes (Everest, Etna, Vesuvius)
Of course, there are always exceptions: The UK, The USA, The
UAE, The Netherlands, The Hague. It is just a matter
of learning them!