Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Whacky Wonderful Words

 I don't give a damn for a man that can only spell a word one way…Mark Twain

Oh those crazy words! There isn’t a human alive who hasn’t at one time or another spelled a word wrong or at least I don’t think so. And no wonder this occurs. I’m not talking about the normal everyday misspelling of words. I’m talking about using the wrong word and spelling it correctly. So in the end that becomes a misspelled word, of sorts.

“I want you to keep the piece from now on,” the mother scolded.
“Mary, would you like a cup of tee?”
“I sea where your going with that.” (This sentence has two wrongly used words)
“I no I was wrong, but I didn’t here the question correctly.”
And don’t you cringe when you read, “Its all for you’re own good.”

Some battered combinations that are as common as brushing your teeth, include: Its and it’s, Your and you’re, write and right, there and their (now that’s a misused duo) board and bored, and wear and where. I am sure you can think of lots more.
And often when one is writing (typing) these little buggers don’t show up as mistakes.

Then there are the words that some people consider wrong but they are not wrong. It all depends on where you are living, when you are writing your work.
“The girl with the blond hair,” might be perfectly okay to write in America. But should you be in France writing in English, you’d be scowled at. (Now I’ve just ended a sentence with a preposition, but that’s another subject, so let’s forget about it here.) Reason being for the above sentence: blond is masculine in French and blonde is feminine.

If I’m sitting in Canada or England and I write, “The neighbour with the colourful shirt just walked down to the harbour,” I’d be perfectly correct.
But if I am in America and I write, “The man with the gray hair just ploughed out my driveway,” I’d in a sense be perfectly wrong.

I am Canadian, so I write my novels with Canadian spelling. Most of my novels take place in Canada so it just makes sense. I have to admit though that it is tricky for me to do this. Over the years the different spelling of American and Canadian words has sort of meshed a bit. And Canadians tend to use a combination sometimes. That of course would never do when writing, so be consistent at least. And being consistent is made a little bit easier when using a computer with a dictionary. If you set it for British or Canadian spelling and accidently type a word the “American” way, you will get that nice little red line underneath.

I wonder why all words can’t be the same in the different countries. Canadians took their spelling from the British, but of course that would never do for Americans, who had to have their own way. It’s kind of like being the spoiled child in the family. “I’ll do it my way,” the saucy boy said. And the other children (the sit-back-do-nothing Canadians just went along with the group). Isn’t that the way it still is? We Canadians don’t jump very far from the mama (the British) language.

So next time you Americans are writing a novel, or whatever you are writing, remember how much easier it is for you. You have grown up with one way to spell something, (I’m of course just speaking of the words that have more than one spelling to make them correct) and you don’t give it another thought. We Canadians have to remember whether we want our story to read Canadian or American.

Even if we are writing a story that is set in the US, we might still want to use Canadian spelling in order to be a consistent author.That is because of the American influence in our country. Most of our TV shows are American. A lot of our reading is American. Over time we get accustom to using both spellings of a word and use them interchangeably.

Words are whacky, words are weird, and words can be worrisome, but it’s a lot of fun to think about them. It’s great brain work to remember where to put what and how to spell for the right country.

But all in all, writing is writing and aside from the interesting way we all write and spell, and pronounce words, we are much the same, and we basically just want to get the story told. Happy Writing and Reading everyone!

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