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When an alternate spelling is a word in its own right
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Ron Draney
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In American English, we have the verb vocalize pronounced /ˈvōkəˌlÄ«z/ and meaning both Utter (a sound or word): “the child vocalizes a number of distinct sounds”; “a warbler vocalized from a reed bed” and Express (something) with words.

In most cases, British spelling disapproves of the -ize ending and instead uses -ise, so this word in the UK would be spelled “vocalise” instead, but with the same pronunciation and meaning.

But in American English, there is also the noun vocalise, pronounced /ˈvōkəˌlÄ“z/ and meaning A singing exercise using individual syllables or vowel sounds to develop flexibility and control of pitch and tone or A vocal passage consisting of a melody without words: “the second movement is in the spirit of a vocalise”. (Scat singing is one sort of vocalise; others are the wordless “fa-la-la” singing of medieval folk songs and the “Trololo Guy“.) And as we all know, English is very fond of “verbing” nouns, so someone might say or write “the lead singer then vocalised the last two choruses”, leading to confusion about just exactly what the singer did.

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I disagree a little: the musical ‘vocalise’ is both British and American. It’s probably a direct borrowing from French.

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