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Inquiry or Enquiry for Global Website?

     
11:19 am on Aug 4, 2011 (gmt 0)

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I'm from the UK, but my website has a worldwide audience.

What's the best (in your opinion) choice when it comes to spelling?

For example:

"Thank you for your enquiry"
Or
"Thank you for your inquiry"


I've used the first one as this is mostly accepted in the UK, but I hear the US prefers the second.

Occasionally, I get emails from people who seem very upset with my spelling.

Is it best just to avoid words like this, what's your opinion?
8:06 pm on Aug 11, 2011 (gmt 0)

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The solution: stop thanking your visitors!
8:21 pm on Aug 11, 2011 (gmt 0)

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I'd probably use British or American English based on where the majority of your users are from. What I hate is magazines like the Economist deciding to use British English for the magazines they send to people in the United States. I know they do some tailoring of their magazine based on locale so I don't understand why they can't do a simple find/replace or spell check to comply with American English spelling...quite lazy.
8:38 pm on Aug 11, 2011 (gmt 0)

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I supply about 50 different countries and my sites and correspondence are all deliberately in British English except for one single word:

Color v Colour for SEO purposes! Why?

Widget Color is THE single-most searched term for my widgets and Google prefers this spelling...I have no choice.
8:59 pm on Aug 11, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Use both: inquiry here, enquiry there. Love everyone.


That does not solve the conundrum; it only delivers a different sort of irritation.

Unless you are discussing a topic that actually requires the nuances of meaning that reach back into history, choose one form or the other and be consistent about it.

A quality publication will decide on their house style and stick to it.
9:47 pm on Aug 11, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Write the way you're comfortable-- but ask an American to look at the text to make sure there's nothing they genuinely don't understand. Generally that would apply only to lexical differences. "Bespoke suits" is probably OK because the word simply doesn't exist in American. And there are some Britishisms like "lift" and "lorry" that all Americans know. (Or know incorrectly, like "public school".) But a phrase like "return ticket" risks serious misunderstanding. ("How can I return if I haven't even gone there yet?")
10:01 pm on Aug 11, 2011 (gmt 0)

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And don't forget the different definitions for "knocked up", as in "Would you mind if I knocked you up tonight?"
10:03 pm on Aug 11, 2011 (gmt 0)

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And, BeeDeeDubbleU, if you see a difference, use, as others have suggested, "Thanks for your interest."

It is nothing to do with whether or not I see a difference. It is a fact that there is a difference in UK English. Over here if someone mentions an "inquiry" we immediately think "court" or "hearing". If someone mentions "enquiry" then someone is asking for an answer to a question. But don't take my word for it.
[en.wiktionary.org...]
10:24 pm on Aug 11, 2011 (gmt 0)

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On further consideration... I'm not sure an American site would say "[ie]nquiry" at all, unless they wanted to sound insufferably snooty. Probably "Thank you for your interest" or "... your question". So the word itself is part of the overall Britishness. You may not be consciously aware of all your other Britishisms, but visitors will have noticed them. At least subliminally. In this case, Americans will notice the word, while Brits will notice the spelling.
1:02 am on Aug 12, 2011 (gmt 0)

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I say we switch to Australian. Fair dinkum!
1:18 am on Aug 12, 2011 (gmt 0)

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The strine would be too much for the merkins.
2:39 am on Aug 12, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Bah! Why make it difficult? Inquiry/Enquiry... both mean: Questions? (works in both versions of English)

Sounds like a tempest in a teapot... though I will say that if I find one or the other on the page that tells me where the offer is being made... and at that point I decide whether I hit the back button or not. (Something to think about) Both are correct, both are accepted in UK/US (alphabetical list) and no harm done (except for comment above). Despite ivory towers on either side of the Atlantic the word reads correct in either spelling (particularly since both sides of the Atlantic have taken great liberties in their educational institutions to the lowest common denominator where any kind of spelling is allowed). That said, avoid, if possible, any words with alternate spelling ala UK/US... and in most instances there's ALWAYS a better word to use!
5:03 am on Aug 12, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Bah! Why make it difficult? Inquiry/Enquiry... both mean: Questions? (works in both versions of English)

No, they do not. See multiple comments above including my own. This is not a color/colour issue.
6:25 am on Aug 12, 2011 (gmt 0)

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@badbadmonkey: you bad monkey... see multiple comments above including your own... nobody has a clue! :)

Do suggest that all critters involved use every effort to avoid CONFUSION in SPELLING (hence post above) and I'll leave it at that.
7:26 am on Aug 12, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Or center/centre or aluminum/aluminium. :)

Different spellings of the same word are never a problem. In computing and programming we Brits are used to having to switch to American spelling where required but there can be problems with different meanings.

I think part of the misunderstanding here is that people outside of the UK cannot understand that "inquiry" to us means a formal, organised investigation normally held by a group of people. For example yesterday there were calls in parliament for a public inquiry into the riots in English cities. If someone in the UK had written "calls for a public enquiry" it would look wrong, it would be seen as wrong and it is wrong. ;)

Vive la différence! :)
9:02 am on Aug 12, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Exactly. There's lots of confusion and I daresay ignorance in this thread. Proceed with caution.
9:53 am on Aug 12, 2011 (gmt 0)

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I think part of the misunderstanding here is that people outside of the UK cannot understand that "inquiry" to us means a formal, organised investigation normally held by a group of people.

Making it highly unlikely that anyone on your side of the Atlantic would ever say "Thanks for the inquiry" -- especially not if they were the ones fielding the questions. Conversely, a "public enquiry" would be, uhm, a man-in-the-street interview?

"Enquiry" to an American looks British. "Inquiry" to a Brit looks wrong. Which of the two is more likely to cost you sales? ;)
12:11 am on Aug 13, 2011 (gmt 0)

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I think part of the misunderstanding here is that people outside of the UK cannot understand that "inquiry" to us means a formal, organised investigation normally held by a group of people. For example yesterday there were calls in parliament for a public inquiry into the riots in English cities. If someone in the UK had written "calls for a public enquiry" it would look wrong, it would be seen as wrong and it is wrong. ;)


Means the same in the US... Not much difference after all... We have inquiries by groups into matters, and people do inquire "information" all the time (and if it is spelled with an "e" we still get it).
1:48 am on Aug 13, 2011 (gmt 0)

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In the US, the two meanings are not associated with different spellings.

I just went to look up the technical term. Unfortunately it is "doublet", which as TT's go is about as unhelpful as you can get. It means that they started as the same word but diverged, like "flower" and "flour". In American English this particular pair never diverged; in British English they did.

Are you starting to be sorry you enquired? :)

Hm, come to think of it, how do you spell the verb? Maybe we can sneak around the problem that way.
1:56 am on Aug 13, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Tempest in a teapot, lucy24 (and everyone else)... means the same thing (go look it up in any dictionary) inquiry enquiry... with the "e" version tending to be UK usage, we Americans tend to be lazy and if one word will do it we don't use two...

The MEANING of the word is not in question... the INQUIRY/ENQUIRY (and answered ad nauseum) is what should I use on a global website? Answer to the INQUIRY/ENQUIRY is: Pick your poison (US/UK) and go from there... both are ENGLISH.
5:48 am on Aug 13, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Jeez some folk just don't get it.
means the same thing... Answer to the INQUIRY/ENQUIRY is: Pick your poison (US/UK) and go from there... both are ENGLISH.

For the 3rd time, NO... "inquiry" has a different meaning in British English (!).

Hm, come to think of it, how do you spell the verb?

To enquire / inquire. Same problem.
9:08 am on Aug 13, 2011 (gmt 0)

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"Thank you for your enquiry"
Or
"Thank you for your inquiry"


I guess that for the third, fourth, or even fifth time, some didn't read the OP... see above:

I don't care how you spell it, means "thanks for your question, hope we answered it"

Which APPARENTLY some don't want to get answered. Shaking head and walking off muttering: and if the Brits have two different versions of inquiry (to inquire/enquire, question, seek answers) which mean the same thing then I guess us on the other side of the pond are impoverished in that regard. Bet ya, however, that INQUIRY wins since that's where all the money (what there is left) is...
12:57 pm on Aug 13, 2011 (gmt 0)

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I think we are in danger of forgetting the most important thing: write good English. I have read of a lot of American English, including a lot that was complex (academic journals, for example), and as long as it was GOOD American English I never had a problem.

Have you ever noticed that the more educated the writer, the smaller the divergence between different dialects of English?

Of course you need to avoid words that have different meanings, and certain idioms that may be misunderstood.
2:52 pm on Aug 13, 2011 (gmt 0)

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We run sites in Australia, Canada, UK and the US, and the issue of spelling is extremely important, if you do not want to upset some of your visitors.

A couple of years ago, we did not REALISE the importance of using the word "Inquiry" and not "Enquiry" on our contact form page on a US targeted site. We had this pointed out by several visitors, and so made the changes.

I am English and was moved to the US in the early 80's by my parents, where I was enrolled in high school. One of my favorite stories was asking my 30 something, female math teacher if she had a "rubber" I could use. Luckily she understood the different meaning of the word, but the rest of the class, it was the funniest thing they had ever heard.
11:14 pm on Aug 13, 2011 (gmt 0)

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I don't care how you spell it, means "thanks for your question, hope we answered it"

No: outside of Fortress America, "inquiry" does not mean what you imagine it to.

Which APPARENTLY some don't want to get answered. Shaking head and walking off muttering: and if the Brits have two different versions of inquiry (to inquire/enquire, question, seek answers) which mean the same thing then I guess us on the other side of the pond are impoverished in that regard. Bet ya, however, that INQUIRY wins since that's where all the money (what there is left) is...

Precisely the sort of American arrogance that annoys Brits to no end and will see them mercilessly punish any local betrayal.
:)
8:09 pm on Aug 15, 2011 (gmt 0)

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I'm in a similar situation. Here's what I do:

1. Write all content in British English since I am based in the UK.

2. Wrap all words with different spelling in spans with a special class, e.g.:
"Upload your <span class='language-cv'>CV</span>"


3. Use javascript to get the language settings of the browser.

4. Use a simple jQuery script to rewrite all words with different spelling if language in the browser is EN-US, EN-CA, etc. so the US, CA (etc.) visitors see "Upload your Resume" instead.

I admit it does slow down the site by a fraction of a second but it limits the number of confused users. I'm not a native speaker of English but I believe CV in the USA, Canada, Australia (etc.) means a different thing from CV in Europe.
9:40 pm on Aug 15, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Tempest in a teapot. Try this: [differencebetween.net...]

I suppose the more intriguing question will be "which English is in common use on the web?" UK or USA? Then plan sites based on that determination. Globalization eventually comes into play, and if Aussies and Canucks are using USA spellings... what comes next?
6:54 am on Aug 16, 2011 (gmt 0)

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From your link ...
As a matter of fact, it is only in British English that any attention is paid to the distinction.
Isn't that what we are saying?

Tempest in a teapot
That should be "storm in a teacup". ;)
7:14 am on Aug 16, 2011 (gmt 0)

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BDW, case is rested, whatever the waters excited! All I have to say is "follow the money" and go from there... regardless of whatever enquiry is used. :)
8:31 pm on Aug 16, 2011 (gmt 0)

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re: Jay7's suggestion, if you're going to the trouble of offering i18n, DON'T do it using JavaScript and JQuery.

On the server, detect "en", "en-ca", "en-gb" etc, do your i18n as the page is being rendered, and deliver the content with the appropriate HTTP Content-Language header.

[ietf.org...]
8:39 pm on Aug 16, 2011 (gmt 0)

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why dont you just change the word enquiry/inquiry to something else entirely, like "Thank you for your interest"... or whatever
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