Throughout the English speaking countries in the world, the spellings of the word “Gray” and “Grey” are different. But Gray is more frequently used in American English; on the other hand the Grey is used commonly in other forms of British English. The ratio of using in the U.K. or in the US is not same. It is, for many instances, just the reverse.
Both the spelling, Gray and Grey, originated hundreds years ago from the older English word grǽg. In the 18th century the popularity of spelling “grey” was ascending. But soon after the adoption of the “gray” by the Americans, the use of other form by the English was changed.
Since then, both the forms have been literally familiar among the people of the English Speaking community in the world. But, the favoring of gray in the U.S. and grey all over the world else remains consistent.
The Reasons behind this confusion
The English in spoken form consists of English 42- 45 different sounds, while there are only 26 written forms of alphabet. So it is obvious that, there are not as many alphabets as necessary for pronouncing all the different pronunciation of speech. It is the important reason behind the pronunciation of single letter is pronounced in different manner in English language.
Additionally, some fraction of people writes different spelling for their respective native accent. Because of this accentuation, there is dissimilarities in the spellings between the two words.
Ideographic Languages like, Japanese and Chinese, stress on the sound. So, to them meanings are important rather than the sound. Because of this, there is no confusing spelling. While the Latin alphabet based on phonetic, that means the alphabets guides the pronunciation.
Though it is flexible and helpful way, but when put into practice, it creates full of confusions. For example, the letter ‘a’ is pronounced differently in different words: like in “large.” “Face”, Again, the ‘o’ in the word ‘boat’, ‘hour’ or ‘photo’ is pronounced differently. So for the learner, it is very difficult to pronounce the spelling.
The necessity of formulating new characters in English
For resolving the above said issue, some of the languages have taken in new characters in their scripts. Such as, some of the European languages have accepted new arrangements of letters by developing other symbols. These are like cedilla, circumflex, umlaut with a view to expand the scope of using alphabets in combined form.
Just look behind the history of Confusions
Both spellings, Gray and Grey originated in the Old English grǽg, continued for 100 years. The recent system of spelling has been formed by the past events. The system of English spelling is the outcome of hundreds years of development process. It is only the socio-linguistic process that leaves us with these big confusions.
Some people of different origin make their respective distinctions of words for their ingenious accent. Among them the words gray and grey are also worth mentioning. There are no such vital differences between them, only some border differences exist. For most of the people, these two words are the same but simply spelt differently.
For those who are foreign speaker, it is important to take voice-training to make out the science behind the pronunciation or creation of speech so that all the things can be understood in right way.
However, understanding of the differences between the native speakers and foreign speakers is preceded by the proper making out of the different accent of the languages. When it is learnt properly, it helps not only to pronounce words correctly, but also the speakers enjoy a height of confidence.
Are there other words like Gray and Grey?
There are lots of words like these words. They are written or pronounced so alike that they create confusions. The words like ‘a lot’ or ‘allot’ or ‘while or awhile’, ‘aid and aide’ etc are often spelt confusedly. But the confusion grows more when the same words are written in two different spelling but pronounced in the same way. It is what is true in case of Gray and grey.
Though some people make the distinction between such words. But, to others it is simply like nothing. Both, spelling are same and suggest same thing. The words like center and centre are like that. The words ‘civilization’ and ‘civilisation’ also are the examples of such instances. You can find a lot more words like these in Oxford Dictionaries.
If you often wonder about the spelling of gray or grey, be sure that they are both same and also correct. The spelling gray is used in USA and grey is used by the people of United Kingdom.
But only exception to the rule is that if the words are found to use with proper name, you should never use gray, it is grey that is correct. Like Stephen Grey. It must not be spelt as Stephen Gray. American spelling is phonetics as compare to the Britain.
There is an authoritative and interesting note in the world famous Oxford English Dictionary about spellings. It says that the famous writer and the lexicographer Samuel Johnson championed the English word gray. But, in the 20th century grey turned out as most accepted spelling in Britain anyhow.