Oh me. I am a rotten speller, my use of punctuation is chaotic and my syntax is curious. I am an editor’s nightmare and a spell checker’s jackpot, so I thought I would upgrade from my built-in spell checker, which drives me batty, to Grammarly, thinking that it might be better for me. It’s not. Apparently, I am even more awful with English than my previous spell checker had let on. I miss that guy.
So here I am with Grammarly and it is melting. I have told it my spelling is British English, rather than American English and off it went and promptly threw a fit. You see large chunks of my text are from eighteenth-century texts and local Cornish diaries. I can understand the spell checker freaking out over “ee” “sammat” “what be us doing” “Mevagissey”, I am disappointed that it doesn’t recognise “leats” and “adits” but I struggle when it warns me about using American English, when going through the texts written in the 1800s.
The funny thing is that spellings that we now view as American, publicize, analyze, are exactly how we spelt them here in England back in the eighteen-hundreds. We were also happy spelling color and center, in fact many words seemed to have a variety of spellings. The further back in print you go the more curious they become. Even a single writer would swap between various spellings, whilst Jane Austen preferred “chuse” she also wrote “choose”.(1) The great divide came with the publication of two dictionaries, Websters USA 1828 and Johnsons UK 1755. Johnson’s dictionary favoured the French versions “our” “re” And Webster was looking back to Shakespeare who was using more Latin endings “or” and “er”. In a desire to standardise, both dictionaries chose their own paths. Sometimes agreeing, sometimes not, these weren’t collaborative projects.
And so here we are today with a spell checker that is screaming at me because I am insisting that color and criticize are both perfectly acceptable English spellings, on this occasion.
By the way, as I type this my screen is absolutely loaded with red under scoring 🙂
- Both of which rhyme with shoes by the way but are spelt differently but that’s a whole different ball game.