Aluminium vs Aluminum

25 12 2005

The lasagne recipe reminded me of some trivia that I only found out recently.  I always thought that Americans pronounced the word A-loo-min-um because, well, they butcher a lot of English words.  But it’s not the case.

Turns out that the element was originally name Alumium.   Considered unwieldy, it was soon changed to Aluminum.  However, adding to the confusion, it was later standardized to Aluminium to conform with the ending of most of the other element names.

Unfortunately, by the time it was standardized, Aluminum was already in popular use, particularly in the US where it was prevalent in scientific publications and even company names.  So it stuck in this part of the world.

Both pronunciations have a valid claim to being ‘correct’ and this is one case where “American English” isn’t to blame for being unnecessarily difficult.
Here’s a reference to the whole sordid tale.

Be damned if I’m spelling “colour” with a ‘u’ though.  😉

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4 responses

27 12 2005
J-Man

They probably use the same excuse for not using S.I. units of measurements (meters, kilograms)… things change, some nations are just more stubborn then others…

4 01 2006
Pat

Well if the website spells aluminium the way we do, I’m taking the high horse on this one. I still think US English was invented by Microsoft.

8 01 2006
Lamb

Don’t make excuses for them Matt – the word is spelled A-L-U-M-I-N-I-U-M

So you tell those fuckers to get with the program and learn to speak the Queen’s english.

10 01 2006
trentini

I just double-checked, even “Aluminum” foil is spelt that way on the box!

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