Speciality - Specialty

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Sweet-Girl, Mar 8, 2006.

  1. Sweet-Girl Member

    Arabic / Bahrain
    Hi all,

    IS speciality a variation of specialty or they are different words because in my English-Arabic dictionary it shows the same meaning ? If it's not a variation please tell me the difference between them ? and how can I distinguish the meaning of speciality from specialty in any context?

    Thanks alot.
  2. river Senior Member

    U.S. English
    specialty - AE
    speciality - BE
  3. panjandrum

    panjandrum Occasional Moderator

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Different contexts use different spellings, but the meaning is essentially the same.

    Doctors have specialties - the branch of medicine that they specialise in.

    Restaurants and chefs have specialities - the dishes that they feel they present particularly well.

    Edit: Having seen river's post - we have both:)
  4. Mr.Blue

    Mr.Blue Senior Member

    Australia / English
    As in Oxford dictionary it shows that speciality is a variation of specialty in N.America.

    I can only give you some tips on how to use these words differently . Use speciality when you mean the special character of something; use specialty when referring to a special line of work or business.

    Note : I'll give an example later on ( I can't make a clear one right now ). I hope I helped.
  5. morpho Member

    San Francisco
    English, USA
    I would venture to say that typically we only use the word specialty in American English.
  6. panjandrum

    panjandrum Occasional Moderator

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Hello s.t.u.a.r.t - welcome to WordReference.

    Forgive me for contradicting you, but what you say is not true.
    If you have evidence in support of your opinion, which contradicts the Oxford English Dictionary, you are welcome to post it here.
  7. JulianStuart

    JulianStuart Senior Member

    Sonoma County CA
    English (UK then US)
    Welcome stuart with the dots from another without:D

    Pure and correct are contentious terms at best and my OED lists specialty as being used as long ago as 1451 and 1575 (is this when Original English was around? :D) "a special feature or characteristic" while definition 4 seems to be the main thrust of its current use : A special line of work or business; a special subject of study or research.Definiton 5 of speciality has : a thing or article specially characteristic of, produced or manufactured by a particular place, firm etc.
    Thus while there seems some overlap, I agree with panj and Mr Blue : the specialty is what doctors and researchers select to devote their energies to, and a speciality is on a restaurant menu or in a tourist guide to suggest local souvenirs.
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2010
  8. panjandrum

    panjandrum Occasional Moderator

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    The point made by JulianStuart, and others earlier in the thread, is that BE uses both forms, often distinguishing between them based on context.

    If you teach students that medical doctors in the UK have specialities, you are doing them a serious disservice, unless you are talking about their favourite dinner party recipes.
  9. Jam on toast

    Jam on toast Senior Member

    British English
    I do, albeit rarely, see "specialty" used with respect to the special line of work or business definition, but so far only with U.S. companies offering products in which they specialise (specialty bearings, etc.).

    I wouldn't, however, blink an eye to see it used in British English; it can convey a different nuance from "speciality" and so can only enrich the language.

    "Aluminum" vs "aluminium" is different because this is just, respectively, AmE and BrE words for exactly the same thing. "Specialty" is not exactly the same thing as "speciality".

    Just to reinforce JulianStuart's point, the notion of people in the UK still speaking "original English" is nonsense, since AmE and BrE have both evolved in similar but slightly different directions since the "original" emigrations to North America. If we still spoke "original English" in the UK, us Brits would still sound like Shakespeare (wouldn't that be a hoot!)
  10. panjandrum

    panjandrum Occasional Moderator

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    In that case you are missing out on a huge section of British English vocabulary.
    I encourage you to open yourself to the possibility that your "AE-only" view of specialty is wrong.
  11. entangledbank

    entangledbank Senior Member

    English - South-East England
    Numerically, 'speciality' is more common in BrE, but as to whether there is any consistent difference in meaning, I have to agree with Fowler in Modern English Usage:

    The two words . . . while they seem to cry out for differentiation, have made little progress in that direction. Anyone who thinks he knows which of the chief senses belongs to which, & tests his notions by looking through the OED quotations, is likely to have a surprise; he will perhaps conclude that writers use either form for any of the senses according as they prefer its sound in general or find it suit the rhythm of a sentence . . . The most that can be ventured is to state two facts, first that speciality is in most senses the commoner, & secondly that specialty prevails in the legal sense, defined in OED as 'A special contract, obligation, or bond . . .'

    I would just add that another word for what specialists have is specialism.
  12. JulianStuart

    JulianStuart Senior Member

    Sonoma County CA
    English (UK then US)
    Another possible (and unambiguous) word for (a common meaning of )specialty is specialization:

    "I did postgraduate research in biochemistry with a specialization in plant alkaloid metabolism". :D

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