Sulfur, Sulfa ----- Sulphur?

Lee Poulsen
Wed, 09 Nov 2005 16:38:39 PST
On Nov 9, 2005, at 2:22 PM, Paul Tyerman wrote:
> I'm sorry, but I have to ask....... what exactly is "Sulfa" (never
> heard the word before) and for that matter what exactly is
> "Sulfur"?  The element is called Sulphur" without an F so I am
> wondering what these other words are supposed to mean?

My dictionary says that 'sulfur' and 'sulphur' are different spellings 
for the same word, and that 'sulphur' is chiefly used throughout the 
English-speaking world outside the USA. Since my dictionary is an 
American English dictionary, I take this to mean that 'sulfur' is used 
in the USA.

There are also the two different spellings for the element Al:
aluminum (North America, in this case both USA and Canada)
aluminium (chiefly used throughout the English-speaking world except 
for North America)

What does the IUPAC say about this one, especially since for all other 
true metallic elements, except for those with pre-modern names like 
gold, lead, mercury, etc., the standard ending is '-ium' rather than 
just '-um', hence the British spelling and pronunciation follows the 

sulfa drug
Any of a group of synthetic organic compounds, derived chiefly from 
sulfanilamide, chemically similar to PABA and capable of inhibiting 
bacterial growth and activity by interfering with the metabolic 
processes in bacteria that require PABA. Also called sulfonamide.

	1 	 Any of a group of organic sulfur compounds containing the radical 
O2NH2 and including the sulfa drugs.
	2 	 See sulfa drug.

sulfur    (USA Eng)
azufre     (Span)   (sulfuro means sulfide)
soufre     (Fr)
zolfo      (Ital)
Schwefel   (Germ)
enxôfre     (Port)
硫黄 (いおう) (Jap)
황          (Kor)
硫磺        (Chin)
сернистый  (Russ)
zwavel     (Du)
शुल्बारि      (Hind)
גָּפְרִית       (Heb)
كبريت       (Ar)
ธาตุกัมมะถัน  (Thai)
θειάφι      (Gr)

That was fun.

--Lee Poulsen
Pasadena area, California, USDA Zone 10a

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