I was happily reading the Age the other day, thinking everything was okay with life when I spotted an article titled “You don’t need to spell it out, OK is okay in anyone’s language”. WTF? Had someone gone and changed the language rules without telling me?
The article itself is more about the origins of okay than a debate over which way to spell it, but it does say that it is okay to use OK instead of okay. And I had changed every use of OK to okay in a manuscript I recently edited (sorry Chris).
Just to make sure, I checked out the online Macquarie dictionary. It informed me that OK, o.k. and okay were all OK. Unconvinced, I searched for an online style guide. The only one I found that would let me in without having to stuff around registering or paying, was for the Guardian newspaper in England. It says: OK is OK; okay is not. So it looks like okay could not be OK here sometime in the future.
Has U Gone Missing?
OK got me thinking, what other spellings might have changed lately? Is it no longer acceptable to put a u in colour or labour? The Macquarie dictionary says: In Australia, as in Britain, the most common spelling of these words is with -our, although -or is often used and certainly occurs consistently in a large number of magazines and newspapers. That got me checking.
I know Divine, who I write, for uses colour. And the Age still uses Labour except when referring to the Australian Labor party. Interestingly, my word spellchecker, set to Aussie English, wants me to keep the u in Labour.
Do you Realise?
What about s or z in specialise or realise? For Divine we use an s instead of a z. The Macquarie dictionary says both specialise and specialize are OK. A quick check of the Age found specialise but not specialize. And the word spellchecker accepts both spellings.
Perhaps it is time to buy or subscribe to a new Australian style guide. After all, the one I have is ten years old. A website that details recent changes to accepted Australian English would also be very handy.