I just wrote these two sentences in my paper:
"There is some tendency for these harsher critiques of the family members to be directed more towards female members of the family than male ones. However, this may by an artefact of the scenarios more than anything else."
And old MS Word underlined "artefact" and wants me to spell it "artifact". So off to Google I went and there seems to be no consensus on this. It could be a UK/US spelling difference, though there's evidence that both forms are used in both nations. However, to me, I don't think of these as the same word, though it's hard for me to pinpoint the difference.
If an archaeologist digs up a piece of pottery, that's a definite artifact with an "i" in there. But, well, that's not the kind of artifact I am talking about in my sentence. This sort of an artefact is an accidental construction of other features. My sentence example is a better explanation than my definition here.
What are your thoughts? I expect people to have opinions on the spelling, but what about the difference in meaning? Are these really two different, though related, words? Or is my inability to articulate the difference between an artifact and an artefact evidence they're really the same thing?
My guess right now is that these are the same word, but that I've encountered this "accidental feature" use of artefact among stuff written by people who happened to use the artefact spelling. It's a probabilistic meaning for the linguist readers.