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Subject: Reply Form Time:1:51 PM
RE> -able after 'e' Date:7/19/94
Regarding the discussion of the proper spelling of 'scal(e)able':
In the very distant past I remember learning a rule that dictated what to do
about that 'e' when adding the 'able' suffix. I didn't remember the rule but
looked it up in my dusty Fowler's Modern English Usage.
"...If the verb ends in mute -e, this is retained after soft c or g
(pronounceable, manageable) and generally dropped after other consonants
(usable, forgivable), but on this see MUTE E."
About MUTE E, I found almost 2 pages. Here's an excerpt:
"Needless uncertainty prevails about the spelling of inflexions and
derivatives formed from words ending in mute e. Is this -e to be retained ,
or omitted? [rambling omitted] The need is ... for a rule of the simplest
kind and with the fewest exceptions, to deliver us from the present chaos:
the dictionary-makers are not agreed about the spelling even of such common
words as blam(e)able, lik(e)able, sal(e)able, siz(e)able, and tem(e)able, and
in the rulings even of a single authority may be found such seemingly
arbitrary distinctions as lateish but whitish, ageing but icing." [more
rambling leading up to the suspenseful and climactic...]
When a suffix is added to a word ending in mute e, the mute e should be
dropped before a vowel, but not before a consonant.
The e should be kept even before a vowel if it is needed to indicate the soft
sound of a preceding g or c or to distinguish a word from another with the
I can quote examples if anyone needs but these seem pretty clear.
And, of course, I don't pretend that this will resolve the issue for