Paul Makepeace ;-)

Why all the z's and missing u's?

Despite being British and being brought up in Britain I choose to follow American English spelling conventions. It started when I moved to Texas and spent 95+% of my time writing to Americans. Some ex-pats doggedly stick to their ways when they arrive in a new country -- this is pretty normal and a well documented behavior, even a classic reaction as part of culture shock.

I decided fairly early on however, having already decided to come and live in a different country to be exposed to a new culture, to communicate with Americans as another American could. Well, perhaps bar the Southern drawl which I don't think I could ever quite manage. Get me drunk and I can do a passable attempt though...

So that's essentially why: when in Rome, I did as the Romans.

But you're back in the UK now!

When I have a largely British, European or Southern hemisphere audience (i.e. anywhere besides America) I try to spell using British English. Other times, which includes writing, it'll be in American English. There is no particularly good reason except now my fingers have got used to it, and to be honest I still spend more time writing to Americans. Incidently I assume statistically they are the default audience on on the Internet.

So how about some dodgy reasons?

Purely by numbers, there are more people using American English: 270million versus 60million Brits and less than 15million Australians, New Zealanders, and Irish. That's right, folks, British English is in the minority. Some might argue that of those other 240million Europeans that write in English they would use British English but I'm not wholly convinced. I suspect Europeans have greater exposure to American English than British. I have no evidence for this besides having met many Europeans with slight American accent twangs from watching television (although often never having set foot in the US nor even meeting a native). Mind you, TV isn't written, except in Sesame Street :-)

(I wonder if anyone knows for sure?)

Another reason is historical. British English is actually newer than American English. There is an interesting discussion although not about -ize/-or at of the history of the English language. From what I remember Bill Bryson talks about this as well.

Having said all that, it really doesn't matter a whole helluva lot, at least to me :-)