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Maiac -- This one's for you 
17th-Apr-2008 11:36 am
A comment

which really belongs in the "words" conversation going on in your blog.  But it's too long for a comment, so I'm making it an entry.  You don't mind sharing the topic, do you?

Previously, in Maiac's "What do you call it" conversation:  I brought up word variances between British and US English, -- torch vs flashlight, for example -- which reminded Maia of the spelling variances --  -re vs -er, for instance -- which reminded me of one of my "Madrid stories."

In our school, there were a total of 600 students, K-12.  These 600 students represented up to as many as 47 different nationalities.  The colloquial, inter-student language was a patois -- not any specific patois, mind you, because its nature morphed with the nationality mix of the student body.  Language courses were taught in the language in question, beginning from day 1.  (Immersion theory.  Worked.)  All other classes were taught in English.  The only English language media available were 1) British papers and BBC wen folks visited England, and 2) Penguin books, out of England.  (Yes, "Stars and Stripes" circulated among the AF kids, but that was a different school altogether.  The "International Tribune" was available, but expensive, and not read by the families for whom English was not the home language.

In other words, our grounding in language, grammar and spelling was ... fraught.  The grammar problem was solved the year before high school with a mandatory, year-long course in English grammar.  (Who remembers diagramming sentences?)  The spelling was ... something else.  To this day I tend to write "honour," although I write "color."  I simply cannot remember if it's "grey" or "gray" unless I'm using a package that automatically checks spelling for me, so I use either whenever.

One year (my 10th grade) into this polyglot nightmare came Mrs. Nickel.  Young, energetic, dedicated, and eager to bring noble service educating her students.  Writing was a fierce focus, so we did a lot of it.

One morning she strode into the classroom just after the bell, and we could almost see the clouds, lighting and raves trailing in her wake.  Without a word she slammed our notebooks (with the latest writing assignment) on her desk, turned on her heel, picked up a piece of chalk and wrote in HUGE letters: J U D G M E N T.  She then turned around, fixed us with her eyes -- later we would all swear they were red -- as she promised "The next person who puts an extra "e" in judgment will fail this course!"


In fact, it was a rather quiet class.  Everyone kept heads down, and Mrs. Nickel was not too companionable.

After class (I had a study hall next, where my presence was not required) I approached Mrs. Nickel and reminded her that we mostly read Penguin books. 

"Your point?"
"Well, that's where we pick up most of our new vocabulary.l"
"I repeat:  Your point?"

See, the Penguin books we read all clearly stated "For sale in Britain or Canada."  The spelling was always British.  I explained this.  Mrs. Nickel was appalled.

"They change the original?!!"

Not only did they change spelling, they changed every variance.  When I started reading Perry Mason mysteries, Drake bought "petrol" and hid things in the "boot" of his "automobile."  It didn't go so far as to substitute "Bollux!" for "Damn!" but it would not have appeared exceptional if they had.

The question of the spelling of judgement never came up again.  And yes, I know I just "misspelled" it -- my browser tells me so.  But I can think for myself -- and I think of this as one of the gray (grey?) areas, and besides, I can never remember which is which, anyway, so how do I know my browser has it right?
10th-Apr-2008 04:34 pm (UTC) - Judgement
Note that I have in my library a book by Andre Norton whose title is plainly given as "Judgement on Janus." I am 95% sure this is a typical American Ace book. (Norton has not had the best of luck with covers and spines; I also have around here somewhere a book whose spine calls it *Sagasso of Space.*) Also, when I was at a high school choral competition at the age of 14, in Redmond, Washington -- I think it was at Redmond Junior High School -- there was a huge bit of fancy calligraphy with a code of conduct for the school's students on a wall. One sentence was, "We will use good judgement." I went to the Redmond school district employee in charge -- I think it was the school principal -- and pointed this out. He said very slowly and with some embarrassment that I appeared to be correct. About "grey/gray," though -- the magazine publication of *Grey Lensman* by E. E. Smith, Ph.D., did say "Grey." The spelling was changed with the book publication. There were both English and American publications of books in the English languages I patronized in South America; I am still capable of picking nits, but English vs. American doesn't matter to me any more. I hope, though, that I am indeed using good "judgement."

And then I am trying to remember to which newspaper columnist this letter was written: "I tried spelling 'judgement' without the e and it came out judgmnt. Now I am in a predicamnt. (signed) Confusd."

11th-Apr-2008 05:02 pm (UTC) - Re: Judgement

cluelessness can be quite funny -- I know; I get a lot of laughs that way!
15th-Apr-2008 09:38 pm (UTC)
Heh. Well the OED lists both judgment and judgement, but the majority of its examples are with an e. Er... 2 "e"s.

Grey/gray -- I use those interchangeably myself.
17th-Apr-2008 07:47 pm (UTC) - dream house diaries
Received this from the NYTimes today:

Stay tuned. We will be launching another house and home blog this summer.

17th-Apr-2008 09:30 pm (UTC) - Re: dream house diaries
Wow, how do you rate special notice?

Either way, I'm very glad to hear it. I already miss all you folks!

Thanks for the heads up.
21st-Apr-2008 04:27 pm (UTC) - dream house withdrawal
Hi Carol,
I am going through Dream House Diaries withdrawal. I sit down by the computer and have nothing to check once the emails are done.

How about an update regarding your project.

I am working hard on our perennial beds - mulching with barkmulch and compost in order to make water last longer. Funny thing about the wet Northwest: it is so dry in July and August and on our island, sprinkling is a no-no.

Hope your project is going well. How about an update Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays:).
21st-Apr-2008 06:00 pm (UTC) - Re: dream house withdrawal
Well, I won't promise 3 entries per week, but I will do my best to do weekly updates. Right now, in fact, I'm going through the DHD for all my entries, to see which stories I've not told here in LJ, which will undoubtedly add new material, just because I am who I am. :-)

Tax season is finally over, so time is getting a bit freer.

I'm so glad some of the DHDers are finding their way here. I do miss you guys!
1st-May-2008 04:55 pm (UTC)
I tend to use grey for soft, appealing colors and gray for stuff like steel girders and oppressive skies.

Other British spellings are kind of random access...though I don't have any excuse for using British spellings other than reading a lot. I grew up solely in Illinois and Wisconsin, and mostly in Chicago, except for a few long vacations in California. (I miss mountains...)
1st-May-2008 09:27 pm (UTC)
Well, when you think about it, my excuse boils down to "reading a lot." I just had a different reason for reading a lot of British stuff.

I agree with you about "grey" being softer than "gray." It is also more ... portent? Bab5's Grey Council, for example, cannot be spelled any other way, even though the Great Maker himself does so. :-)
7th-May-2008 02:29 pm (UTC)
portentious, I think. Or maybe there's a better word.

I'd also say grey is the word for magical things in general, which your comment seems to imply.

Grey is also the word I would use for anything fey, partly because the fey (at least such beings who use that word, and not a very different one) are from the part of the world that uses British spellings, but also because fey and grey rhyme more pleasingly, since they are similar to the eye as well as the ear.
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