Take the 2-minute tour ×
History Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for historians and history buffs. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I am aware that Noah Webster (1758--1843 AD) is responsible for the majority of the differences between British and American spelling (IE: "color" v "colour"). Over time, it seems, in his Speller textbook, he slowly phased out the British spellings for spellings he personally favored.

According to the Wikipedia page about Noah Webster:

Slowly, edition by edition, Webster changed the spelling of words, making them "Americanized". He chose s over c in words like defense, he changed the re to er in words like center, and he dropped one of the Ls in traveler. At first he kept the u in words like colour or favour but dropped it in later editions. He also changed "tongue" to "tung"—an innovation that never caught on.

My question is, did Noah Webster ever explicitly state why he made these changes, either in his books or private correspondences? Also, are there any records of him consulting others while making these decisions or did he act unilaterally?

share|improve this question
    
Related (on English Language & Usage): How and when did American spelling supersede British spelling in the US? –  Yannis Rizos Jun 25 '13 at 12:58

1 Answer 1

up vote 7 down vote accepted

He believed that once we were free from British rule, we should no longer use British spellings. See NOAH WEBSTER & HIS WORDS, Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, 2012. It won the Golden Kite award for best NF book of 2012 in the U.S. It's for children, but packed with fascinating information on this most interesting of men. He talked with B. Franklin, who became a sort of mentor, but Franklin's ideas for spelling were even more radical than Webster's. See NOAH WEBSTER: ON BEING AMERICAN, edited by Homer Babbidge, Jr. It contains many lengthy letters and essays by Webster. He talks frequently about being American in every sense, including spelling.

Great question!

share|improve this answer
2  
Jeri, welcome to the site and thanks for the answer! In case you're wondering, I took off the signature from your answer, since that's not how we do things here. (SE is more like a reference than a conversation.) But do feel free to put a signature in your user profile! –  Joe Jun 29 '13 at 4:08

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.