Thursday, August 09, 2007

Of Roads and Rome

Detail from the Antonine Column,

A minor rant.

Spelling conventions.

I was taught to spell UK style, as you may have noticed.

UK style is different in minor ways from US style. Obvious deviations are evident in the addition of a u as in neighbour or in the substitution of c's, s's, and z.

I firmly believe if one intends to submit to US editors and US agents one should take some pains to ensure that one 's work conforms to Roman conventions.

Fortunately, Word allows one to convert, and while I may be careless on this blog, I certainly am not neglectful in any MSS sent southward.

I comply.

What burns my round red rosy rostrum is the declaration that UK/Canadian spelling is wrong - that a word such as judgement is mis-spelled - when even Mirriam-Webster mentions it as alternative and proper orthography.

Such spellings may not be preferred in the US and a writer may be unwise, oblivious, and decidedly provincial to choose and use them. But they are not wrong.

It's not only the bloody barbarians who are ignorant.


Carla said...

Well, I suppose it's 'wrong' for US usage. Apart from being annoying, does it matter?

Church Lady said...

I can relate, Bernita. For the past four years, our family has lived overseas half of the school year (something I don't like to talk about because inevitably I end up having to defend our choice of lifestyle....but here I feel safe).

Our children end up learning UK spelling for part of the school year and American spelling for the other part. It's not really a big deal, except for that dreaded 'u!' Handwriting requirements are also different. We tell our children to do what the NIKE commercial says, 'Just do it.' To be fair to them, it's extra work, but they don't seem to mind.


spyscribbler said...

Oh, gosh, I always spell "judgement" wrong! At least now I can say it's because of UK spelling, LOL.

Back in the day, books weren't "translated" to American spelling in our library, so I grew up reading a whole lot of UK spellings.

Seeley deBorn said...

Somewhere between high school and college sulphur became sulfur.

I'd really like to pinpoint that date.

Oh, and thanks for the wonderful linkage (feel free to go to town on that word) yesterday!

Bernita said...

Sorry I'm late. More surgery this morning and he's fine.

It certainly matters if some US agents actually believe that writers who use it cannot spell, Carla.

Chris, it seems to me that those who might criticize your lifestyle would also consider UK spellings "wrong."

It's not wrong, SS, it's just not preferred.

It was a good post, Seeley.

raine said...

Ah, well, as one who was taught by very old-school, very WISE professors in her old-school days...I say phffft!!
I was born and bred in the U.S., and the word is JUDGEMENT.
I also slip up and differentiate between "grey" and "gray", and between "seperate" and "separate", and must flog myself to spell it "theater", not "theatre".

I've yet to have an editor complain, but I'm sure someone will. And they may tell me what they prefer, but they can't tell me these are "wrong".

raine said...

...And glad to hear all is well.

Bernita said...

Thank you, Raine.
Oh yes, grey-gray, centre-center, theatre-theater. Me too.
I didn't know that "seperate" was an alternative and approved spelling. I always separate.
The agent who blogged about "judgement" is forever off my list.

Rob said...

I imagine if an American tried to publish something in the UK without changing to the proper regional spellings, the attitudes would be similar.

As Canadians, we're sort of the awkward middle children. Are American books converted to our spelling conventions here? I honestly can't remember right now. I'm so used to reading both versions, I don't even blink an eye anymore.

Although, I have to admit, 'judgment' does look strange to me.

The Anti-Wife said...

As a reader, I believe you need to know your author's origins and be open to their spelling conventions. It's bad grammar and completely incorrect spelling that tend to irritate me

Rick said...

Against imperial hubris - and plain old provincialism - the gods themselves struggle in vain. (And I'm a 'Murrican to whom Brit spelling looks ... quaint.)

Bernita said...

"I'm so used to reading both versions, I don't even blink an eye anymore."
So am I, Rob, and when in doubt, I check.
I would hope that while both countries have their preferences, that neither would consider the other wrong.

That's the intelligent view, AW.

Hee, Rick. And I was brought up in the British form. The American style, to me, looks - farouche.

writtenwyrdd said...

I spell lots of things the British way, and still write grey instead of gray. I think most of these alternative spellings look better, anyhow. Just me, though. If it is in our dictionary as viable, I just add it to the Word dictionary so no problem!

It is so stupid to gig someone on an acceptable alternate spelling.

Jeff said...

"What burns my round red rosy rostrum . . ."
That's a great line, Bernita. So full of colour. Oops, I mean color. :)

Shesawriter said...

Hey Bernita!

Just stopping in to say HI and hope you're doing well. I hear you on the spelling thingie. I judge a lot of writing contest, and I always give the Canadian writers a lot of consideration. Some judges mark off for the differences in spelling, which is totally ridiculous.

Fortunately a lot of contests are starting to remind judges in the instructions not to mark off for these things, but there are still others who ignore it.


Charles Gramlich said...

I use several British spellings naturally because of books that I read as a kid. Quite a few of them also seem better to me than the American version. Colour is so much better than color.

Bernita said...

"It is so stupid to gig someone on an acceptable alternate spelling"
My point exactly, Written.

Thank you, Jeff! That's a family expression!

Tanya! Nice to see you! Was thinking of you this week and wondering how you were.
"Totally ridiculous" nails it.

It may be just familarity disguised as objectivity, Charles, but "colour", to me, has more...well... colour .

kmfrontain said...

Glad the surgery went fine, Bernita.

I'm so behind on reading blogs, it ain't funny. I think you already know I'm all for spelling words however it suits the story style.

Bernita said...

Thank you, Karen.
As usual, you are intelligent and sensible.

Chumplet said...

I stick to my Canadian (UK) spelling until instructed otherwise. I don't particularly like it when crit partners 'correct' my spelling by crossing out the 'u' in 'humour'. I'll figure it out myself when the time comes, thank you very much...

Bernita said...

Don't think I'd appreciate it very much either, Chumplet.

Heidi the Hick said...

It makes me crazy when my spell check puts a red line under "behaviour" and that's all I got to say about that.

Bernita said...

Unless it's for a strictly American audience, Heidi, I say pblaaat! - a lot.