What is the true difference between speciality and specialty? Is it because the former is British English and the latter is American English? I decided to trawl the internet and a few books in the library today to find out some more, but the answer is not that straighforward. First I’ll start with some definitions.
Definition (as a noun)
According to the Collins English Dictionary, speciality (or specialty) means “special interest or skill”. Oxford Dictionaries online define it as “a pursuit, area of study, or skill to which someone has devoted much time and effort and in which they are expert”, for example, ‘what’s your speciality? (what’s your special interest or skill?).
Definition (as an adjective)
According to Oxford Dictionaries online, when speciality (or specialty) used as an adjective or modifier it means “meeting particular tastes or needs” e.g. I made speciality drinks for the party.
Results of my research
When googling these words, the site Grammarist.com caught my eye and they appear to have done a lot of the groundwork on finding the differences between the spelling of these words. The conclusion they came to was that there are many sources saying different things.
What I did discover from their article ‘Speciality vs. specialty’ is as follows:
- The words are interchangeable, although in British English, it is more common to use ‘speciality’ as a noun and ‘specialty’ as an adjective e.g. a specialty car.
- In American, Austrailian and Canadian English, ‘specialty’ is preferred in all cases.
Oxford Dictionaries online explain that the spelling ‘specialty’ is “found in American English and some medical usage”.
Most other searches brought me to the same conclusion, that speciality is used in British English and specialty is the American English way.
Now a little test on other American English v British English words
Grammarist.com has a great quiz on American English v British English spelling that you may want to try. http://www.grammarist.com/quizzes/american-english-british-english-quiz/
Hope you enjoyed today’s blog.
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