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Quoth Julian Pardoe:
> It annoys me when people won't use perfectly good English spellings like
> "disk" because they feel they are American spellings.  (I haven't
> checked the OED for a long time, so I am not 100% sure of my ground, but
> I think that "disk" may even be more English than "disc".)
 
That's interesting--I was taught in school that in computers you have a
disk, but in calculus you have a disc ("C is for calculus!").  That is,
the spelling varies based on the environment.
 
> It annoys me in the same way when people criticize split infinitives.
 
:)  I remain convinced that Star Trek went a long way towards
legitimizing the split infinitive, more power to them.
 
> Well, you may not be interested in the etymological situation but it's
> been the tradition in English spelling to respect etymology.  As for
> /z/, as someone pointed out the sound is probably more often represented
> by "s" than by "z".  And where do you stop?  "Revize", ..."revizion",
> "rezignation", "rezine", ...  "J" is as much the "canonical way"
> (whatever that is) of representing /dZ/ as "z" is of /z/.  Ditto /k/ and
> "k", /I/ and "i".  Why didn't you write "etimolojikal"?
 
I was thinking about this the other day, and I was thinking that we
really do have "canonical" ways of spelling various sounds--ZH for /Z/,
for example, or J for /dZ/--and that frequently they don't even
correspond to how the sound is most often written.  The /dZ/ sound is
written G at least as often as J; and the /Z/ sound is fairly rare in
English, and almost _never_ written ZH!  This is why, I think, people
not trained in writing nonsense tend to do it so badly; they think of a
word, and write it using "canonical" forms, which look funny, since they
really aren't all that common, whereas the skilled nonsensateer will
follow the actual spelling conventions (such as they are) to come up
with something that looks like real English.
 
> One can derive "-lyse" <-> "-lysis" from all English words derived from
> "lysis".  (I'd agree that there aren't that many of them.)  I'd imagine
> that most speakers of English know the pair "analyse", "analysis" and
> could recognize "catalysis" if they'd come across "catalyse".  Of
> course, since the American spelling is "lyze" not "lize" the pattern is
> still there, just a little less obvious.  Of course, given that "i" is
> the "canonical" spelling of /I/ you'll want to write "lize" -- and then
> the pattern breaks down.
 
Of course it doesn't break down, it just gets more obscure, and opens up
a new route for bad analogy.  :)  Anything written "-ize" would suddenly
become a candidate for a noun form in "-ysis"....
 
Quoth James Chandler:
> I had a stand-up argument once with a friend who insisted that "programme"
> should be spelt that way even in the context of computers, and that
> "program" was a ghastly Americanism dropped on us by the US computer
> industry.  I just said that to me a computer program was "program" and
> always would be.  And although I wasn't really into phonetics at the time,
> I can see now that that was a sensible position.
 
A Canadian friend of mine writes "program" for the computer kind, and
"programme" elsewhere.  Fun. :)
 
> I'm not completely sure about this phonetic representation.  But anyway, I
> think it would take at least two generations to reach this point.
 
I doubt it.  As the words we already have make their slow march towards
regularity, we will adopt new words and their irregularities and
introduce irregularities of our own...
 
> Oh dear, so it was "dwarfs" before Tolkien, was it?  Why did he see fit to
> introduce an irregularity into the languages?  Would Tolkien have us
> saying "lauvs, puvs, cuvs, clivs, pontivs" etc. etc.?  All he had done is
> pushed back the time when we say "hoofs, roofs, scarfs....".
 
I don't know if you noticed, but all the examples you gave have a short
vowel before the F, whereas the F->V rule applies more to the long
vowels.  And I don't think it was Tolkien that introduced the V
spelling--Disney's movie is entitled "Snow White and the Seven Dwarves",
isn't it?
 
Quoth Bruce Gilson:
> Note that in American use, the other two forms are not unheard-of, though
> "learnt" (like "dreamt") is probably obsolete, or at least obsolescent, and
> "burnt" is usually used only as an adjective ("burnt rubber") and not as part
> of the conjugational paradigm of "burn."
 
Well, I don't know about it not being part of the conjugation--everywhere
it's a past participle, it has (can have) the T spelling.  I've seen
both, though I use the T myself ("It's burnt!  You burned it!")
 
> (I still say "dreamt" - like keep/kept, with change of vowel from the present
> tense - but I'm over 50 and I doubt that any American under 30 does.)
 
Quoth James Chandler:
> I would say that most Britons still say [t] most of the time, and write
> "t" most of the time in these words.  It is not a peculiar spelling, but
> rather a peculiar (from your POV) pronunciation (or out-speaking).  I have
> caught myself writing "learned" recently on these lists, but I don't think
> I say that, so I'm not sure why.
 
I still _say_ /drEmt/ but I write "dreamed"; I both say and write
"learned".  I think in general the words with vowel change (Ok, Padraic:
umlaut or ablaut?  One of these days I'll remember. :) are much more
likely to have the T on the end; maybe one irregularity makes it easier
for another to keep hold?
 
Quoth James Chandler:
> On Mon, 4 May 1998, Bruce R. Gilson wrote:
> > While we are at it, since Julian points our inconsistency in writing "analyze"
> > but "analysis," can he explain the rule in BrE for the use/non-use of "u" in
> > the -or/-our words? I see "honour" and "honourable" but "honorary" for example.
> > When does an ending cause the "u" to drop, and when not?
>
> To be perfectly honest, I can never remember whether it's "honourable" or
> "honorable" (although it is definitely "honour"!).
 
For that matter, what is the rule for -OUR vs. -OR in the base word
itself?  Someone just posted a list of Latin -OR words, of which many
survive verbatim as English words, though the British spell them -OUR.
But some of them (e.g. HORROR) even the British spell sans U.  Any ideas
why?  (My Webster's even says that in ME it was "horrour".)
 
And for the variation between OU and O within BrE, I suspect it has
something to do with syllabification and accentuation--if there is a
secondary accent following it (as in 'hon.o,ra.ry), it is spelt (<-- :)
O, but if there is not (as in 'hon.our.a.ble), it is OU.
 
--
-=-Don [log in to unmask]<http://www.cs.brown.edu/~dpb/>-=-
Where there's a will, there's an Inheritance Tax.