Thursday, 23 October 2014

23rd October 2014 - On doubting oneself.....

Thought for the day: "Whiteboards are remarkable."

I have had some thoughts about auto-corrects and even mused about the options for auto-grammar corrects, but it still remains that Blogger and Google and much of my intertweb is influenced heavily by the impact of the misuse of language and spelling by the United States of America.

I can ignore the suggestions most of the time, confident in my knowledge of my language, punctuation and grammar. The little red squiggly line that appears under a word as I type is more often than not correct, as my typing is often more erratic than the thoughts running through my head. I have some bad habits in typing. Apart from just having clumsy fingers that tend to hit more than one key at a time and create some language more suitable to Cthulu. One of them is badly typing the word "FROM". My fingers tend to default to "FORM", a spelling which causes no problems to the machine, but only has an affect after trying to re-read the storyline. Often, as I speed re-read and speed proof read what I have written I still miss the required correction. I now have a habit of doing a quick word search for the word "form" prior to publishing, and checking the sense...

I note that Cthulu provokes a red squiggle...  Spell checkers are not well read in HP Lovecraft it seems.

No, I can live with most of the suggested corrections - but on occasion it is possible to start doubting oneself. Generally, as I we sit in the living room, I will get a request from Susie "How do you spell..xxxxx?" and I will be able to rattle it off. In my case, if in doubt a quick dictionary search on line is sufficient - but I am an easier source of information, and rarely will I hesitate..  But there are some words that have always caused a little bit of a problem.

As a youngster, I used to enjoy reading comics - not Superman and Batman - that came later. I am talking about the Beano and Eagle. A search of Wiki shows that it was actually the Beezer, and Blimp had a far more interesting start as a Film in the War and a satire character. But Blimp was not the problem. The Word Colonel in my young days had no homonym with "kernel". No it was a Col - oh- Nell.  For years I thought only of Col - oh - Nell Blimp and misread the word in any other context..

Though I was not alone in this sort of mistake. I had a history teacher at school who continually talked of Ar-kan-sas with a clear "SSS" at the end, confusing all of us who searched for this other state which was so similar to Ark-an-saw...  We never challenged, those were gentler times when Teachers were obviously right all the time!!!

Another problem was from Lady Pen-a-lope in the comic versions of Thunderbirds, or was it Pen-a-lope pitstop!!!   I cannot properly recall but it was years later that I discovered that this was pronounced in a different fashion - the same way as on the television - Crazy Americans.. mm - interestingly "Thunderbirds" comes up with a red squiggly line !!!

No, over the years I have corrected most of my childhood misconceptions - but on occasion it is possible to start doubting oneself.

 My early years in Policing were harassed by the conviction that Alcohol had more than one "A" in it. You say Alc-ah-hol and my gut feeling was that it should be spelled accordingly. It even looked correct on paper. Alcohol with too many "o"'s looked wrong, but I trained myself out of it. Back in those days spelling was considered important. Hand written statements and writing out the statement of facts for summons would be picked up by the Sergeant. One or two corrections of the "college guy" by the old time sergeant who prided himself on not passing any exams broke me of the habit - but never the conviction that it was still wrong! By the time I finished my policing, very little paperwork was scrutinised by any except someone in an prosecution office, you can blame me - I introduced centralised administration units to streamline the work and reduce paperwork ( as if it ever would!). The biggest bane by the end of my career was the avalanche of emails that cascaded every day on the principle that every email should be forwarded in case someone needed to know about it - with no selection of relevance. I put it down to the blame culture that said if you had been sent an email then you could be blamed...

My google checks have red squiggled scrutinised and centralised. Requiring the "z" ...

Of course it s a hard held belief that these "Z" 's are a terrible Americanization - urr Americanisation...
It is not true of course. According to the larger dictionaries, the "Z" form is the correct one, though not in current usage.

Rules as I understand them :

Hart’s Rules for Compositors and Readers at the Oxford University Press, orig by Horace Hart 1893, this edition (37th) 1967

THE -ize, not -ise, ending should be used where both spellings are in use. Generally, -ize is a suffix applied to the stems of nouns ending in -ism, -ization, -izer, -y, or to the complete noun.
agony − agonize
civilization − civilize
appetizer − appetize
criticism − criticize
canal − canalize
transistor − transistorize

The ending -ise is correct when the noun has –is ­as part of the stem, e.g. in the syllables -vis­ (seeing), -cis- (cutting), -mis- (putting), and is also used for those nouns which do not terminate in -ism, -ization, etc. Exceptions are aggrandize­ment/aggrandize, recognition/recognize, and others noted in C.O.D. as `assimilated to verbs in -ize'. Reference should be made to C.O.D. and Collins, Authors' and Printers' Dictionary, if there is any doubt. Some of the more common -ise words follow:

advertise         disguise            misadvise
advise             emprise            premise
apprise            enterprise        prise (open)
chastise           excise              reprise
circumcise       exercise           revise
comprise         expertise         supervise
compromise     franchise         surmise
demise            improvise        surprise
despise            incise              televise
devise             merchandise    treatise

In words such as analyse, catalyse, paralyse, -lys­is part of the Greek and not a suffix like -ize. There is therefore no parallel with -ize words, and consequently the spelling -yze is etymologically incorrect, and not to be used — except when following American printing style.

Clear ??   Well....

It must be admitted that there are words with a ‘z’ in them that are purely American, like advertize, or maybe just wrong, like surmize. Sometimes it is simply error — a word whose spelling is not known, and whose correct spelling is not sought, is arbitrarily given a ‘z’ in the honest but mistaken belief it is correct. Sometimes words with a z-form in American represent an older (perhaps Elizabethan) form of English that made its way to the USA before the language was standardized in England.

More likely, the American ‘z’ is one of Noah Webster’s attempts to ‘standardize’ or ‘improve’ American usage of English when he produced his famous dictionary in 1828, in which his decision to make deliberate and extensive revisions of spelling was implemented — he has been described as a great spelling reformer  Webster evidently decided to use a ‘z’ wherever he considered the pronunciation called for it. This was a highly unusual example of a dictionary leading the written language rather than attempting to reflect it.

This polemic is nothing to do with the Americans. If we overlook the various words that the Americans deliberately choose to spell differently, the majority of words that take a ‘z’, or an ‘s’ that is pronounced like a ‘z’, seem to fall very clearly into those that must take an ‘s’ (like compromise, where the derivation is –misser), those that must take a ‘z’, (like prize), and the rest, about which controversy apparently rages (if only here).

It seems that in books printed in England the use of the ‘z’ overwhelmingly predominated until the Second World War, though on a far smaller scale the ‘s’ can be found used by some printing houses, even in Victorian times. Textbooks set out the correctness of using ‘z’, some of them setting out in considerable detail the rationale for use of ‘s’ or ‘z’ depending on origin.

After the Second World War the ‘s’ alternative is more frequently offered as a possibility and some house style manuals (though not Oxford’s) indicate a preference for ‘s’ — not because of any suggestion that ‘z’ is wrong, mark you, but because ‘s’ had come to be tolerated and it avoided having to remember which usage is which. Recent manuals and dictionaries seem to have given up on the prescriptive use of a ‘z’, though it is usually offered as an alternative where correct.
Summarizing, and using a ‘z’ correctly and non-Americanly, that:

Whether americana or not that was not my latest problem - but on occasion it is possible to start doubting oneself.

The doubt was the word Litre. I type it automatically. It is a subject close to my heart as the ubiquitous "Chateau 41" arrives in containers of this size in both red and white category. I have no doubt as I write, and then the red squiggle appears. I ignore it dutifully and move on ... I check for the "Form" word and do a re-write, and proof read briefly, and then I dwell upon the offending word...  I have little doubt.. Truly. But there is a doubt. I try it the other way just to see.  No it does not look right as Liter.. But there are no red squiggles!!! It is like Alcohol! Have I trained myself wrongly. Should it be ER as in Elizabeth Regina or RE as in about, concerning, regarding, with regard to, relating to, apropos (of), on the subject of, respecting, in respect of, with respect to, with reference to, as regards, in the matter of, in connection with, referring to, touching on. Doubt sets in.

I am ashamed to say that yesterday, the culminating sentences contained the word LITER. Written. Examined. Doubted. Re-spelled and left in the offending form ...

It is only re-reading today that I decided to get another opinion. It looked wrong! I should have more confidence in my convictions. Good old Wiki!!!

The litre (International spelling as used by the International Bureau of Weights and Measures) or liter (American spelling) (SI symbols L or l) is a non-SI metric system unit of volume equal to 1 cubic decimetre (dm3), 1,000 cubic centimetres (cm3) or 1/1,000 cubic metre. A cubic decimetre (or litre) occupies a volume of 10×10×10 centimetres (see figure) and is thus equal to one-thousandth of a cubic metre.

Just a thought - would Meter look better than Metre??

It's enough to drive you to drink ...  Cheers!

Old Time Religion 

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