Adaption vs. Adaptation
A reader in the UK who grew up hearing the word adaption used in reference to radio and television programs based on books wonders,
Where did adaptation come from, since there is no verb adaptate?
The earliest OED documentation of the verb adapt is dated 1531. The noun adaptation comes along in 1597, 18 years earlier than adaption (1615).
English has no verb “adaptate,” but the past participle stem of Latin adaptare (to fit, to adapt) is adaptat-. Adaptation came into English from French, with the extra syllable already in place. Adaption looks like a homegrown nominalization of the verb adapt.
The Google Ngram Viewer, which tracks the incidence of words in printed sources from 1800 to 2000, shows adaption running a distant second to adaptation during the entire period.
The OED has a brief entry for adaption, prefaced by the notation “Now nonstandard.”
Clearly, adaptation is the standard form of the word meaning, “an altered or amended version of a text, musical composition, etc., especially one adapted for filming, broadcasting, or production on the stage from a novel or similar literary source.”
But although adaptation is the preferred spelling, adaption is in use among English speakers in Canada, Australia, the UK, and the US:
The Snow Queen: A Pop-Up Adaption of a Classic Fairytale Hardcover –Publication date: 2013.
Movie Adaption > Popular Movie Adaption Books –categories on Goodreads
Why book-to-film adaption soundtracks need to fit with the original book –headline, The Guardian
Lake Bell to Direct Film Adaption of The Emperor’s Children –headline, Time.com
The Broadway musical West Side Story is an adaption of Romeo and Juliet. –article, The Globe and Mail (Canada)
On a page at the BBC News site, adaption occurs in a header, but adaptation is used in the text below it.
Bottom line: Some writers in the English-speaking world continue to use adaption as an alternative spelling of adaptation, but adaptation is the preferred standard form.
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