Be Consistent With Your Artefacts

At Mind Your Language, we have no problem with different spellings being used for US English. We just don't want to see people deploying the American spellings in an Australian context, or mixing the two together in a single document. And so we come to artefact.

Antiquites picture from Shutterstock

The Macquarie Dictionary, our constant oracle on these matters, lists 'artefact' as the main spelling, but also allows 'artifact'. In the US, 'artifact' is the more common spelling.

Around these parts, we always stick with Australian spelling, so 'artefact' is what we're inclined to use. If you feel inclined to deploy 'artifact' — perhaps because you've spent too much time reading US sites about overclocking — then make sure you use it consistently. Don't switch from one to the other. That makes you look ignorant.

We've made similar points in the past about couple (of) and licence. Accuracy matters, and so does consistency.

Lifehacker's Mind Your Language column offers bossy advice on improving your writing.


    Except "Americanization", which should always be spelt with a "z" :P

      Actually that's incorrect. Americanization of words have nothing to do with using a z instead of an s.

        Exactly. The folks behind Macquarie Dictionary are somewhat behind the anti-z drive in order to talk up sales to schools and government. I tend to take Macquarie's "advice" on dialect spelling with a grain of salt, as their prescriptivism has muddied the waters. I prefer OED's descriptivist approach.

    I dislike how Aussie kids are being taught that 'learned' is the past tense of 'learn' instead of the proper Australian 'learnt'. Macquarie Dictionary shows 'learnt' as the past tense and do not show 'learned' as a verb, only as an adjective. Similarly with 'burnt', 'spelt' and 'dreamt'.

      Reminds me of this:

      Belatedly, pointing out that you're misreading the dictionary here:

    Languages change over time why make a deal out of it. Flow with time, don't fight the tide.

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