To the chagrin of many of my colleagues in the United States, I’ve long adopted international English for spelling. My first love was language and linguistics, and I never had a thing for American authors (until I encountered an undergrad literature course where the teacher only reviewed American fiction), so I wasn’t exposed much to American spelling. I had another Lit course, where the teacher exclusively assigned female authors without regard to national origin. Her advice to me for my choice: Be consistent. I still have an interest in language. Recently, I came across some trivia.
The word aeroplane was introduced in the late 19th century by the French aéroplane, from aéro- ‘air’ + Greek -planos (πλάνος) ‘wandering’. Joseph Pline coined the name ‘aeroplane’ in 1855 to refer to a powered, bird-shaped dirigible.
Subsequent to the original French, aéroplane, had been trisyllabic, often written aëroplane. Aeroplane had been the preferred spelling in the United States until the term was re-coined as airplane. At some point, æroplane, spelt with the initial ash (æsc) diagraph ligature was in vogue.
So-called American English favours spelling aeroplane as airplane. Interestingly, this spelling is a back formation from aeroplane to conventionally comply with airship and aircraft. ‘American English, ‘airplane’ was first recorded in 1907, four years after the first flight of the Wright brothers.
In 1913, Marshall B. Gardner’s, A Journey to the Earth’s Interior: Have the Poles Really Been Discovered? Evidence or Hollow Earth, reads, ‘When in the near future an æroplane or dirigible shall actually travel over all these regions, the observers thereon shall see much that no Arctic explorer has ever told us about’.