David Fleming
It's All Academic   www.davidflemingsite.com   
British Spelling

August 2004:  Off and on the virtual newsletter was a bi-weekly.  That meant we had to get off our butts and get on with fresh material.  I'll let readers be the judge of this piece's expiration date.

WCAC/QuAAC Corner:  How much English is acceptable in English? (Or 'Who said Britain is Great?')

David Fleming, division chair, English

Gary Franchy, division chair, math

 

Gary:  This week, Dave, our dear colleague, Dr. Loretta Sharma, supplies us with the "Ask the Experts" question. It is actually related to writing.

Dave:  All right, I'm ready.  Give it to me.

Gary:  She writes, "I have numerous student assignments that arrive with British spellings of English words ('colours', 'favours', etc). Do I mark these wrong? Does spellcheck 'catch them'? Should spellcheck catch them? I understand that the US legal system is based on English law, and that if no other English law exists to the contrary, judges in the US will seriously consider English precedents. Should I accept English spellings as standard?"

Dave:  Gary, see those squiggly little red lines under "colours" and "favours" on your computer screen?

Gary:  Yeah.  Spellcheck does catch them, doesn't it?  But, then again, spellcheck is catching "spellcheck."

Dave:  O.k., wrap this one up.  Dr. WCAC has done his duty.

Gary:  Not so fast, Skippy.  What about her original question?  Should she accept British variations in spelling?

Dave:  As long as Prime Minister Blair continues to support us in Iraq, I suggest accepting those spellings.  The day they pull the troops, "colours" goes the same way as French Fries.

Gary:  Chips.

Dave:  Gary, we're off the stupid golfing example.

Gary:  No, the British call French Fries "chips."  So, "colours" would go the same way as "chips."

Dave:  Ah, chips.  Ouch!

Gary:  What is it?

Dave: Now I'm getting visions of Erik Estrada.  That's frightening stuff; especially now that he's more paunch than Ponch.

Gary:  Don't make me hurt you.  We do have people to answer to, you know!

Dave:  Fine

Gary:  So, what does your holy book say?

Dave:  Huh?

Gary:  The APA Manual.

Dave:  Did you just hear some horses neigh in terror?

Gary:  No, now get on with it.

Dave:  O.k., well our trusty APA Manual says to use the Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary as the standard spelling reference.  And if that dictionary lists several spellings, use the first spelling listed.  So, if one wants to follow the strict letter of the law, one should not accept "favours."   Now, I would say that the Oxford English Dictionary is just as acceptable, but APA does officially say Webster.

Gary:  Ouch!

Dave:  What is it?  And if you make an Emmanuel Lewis reference I will hurt you.

Gary:  Uh, it was nothing.  OED?  Webster's?  Just tell me: should I accept "favours" from students.

Dave:  I'm not touching that one.  And neither should you.