Subject: rules
From: DIGEST Deborah Snavely <dsnavely -at- SAVI -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 14 Aug 1997 09:43:08 PST

From their beginnings, English-language dictionaries have recorded current
usage. Only once they existed did there begin to be rules. Me, I like using such
rules, but I note that succeeding editions of dictionaries record the growing
ignorance of the writing and printing public, post-desktop publishing. Any year
now, I expect to see Webster or Merriam-Webster claim that "it's" and "its" are
interchangeable. (It happened to imply and infer decades ago.)

For that matter, orthography is similarly slippery. Anyone else here still
prefer the simple spelling rule that you double the consonent when adding a verb
ending? Nowadays dictionaries give the nod to this simple and memorable rule by
listing "canceled," "labeled," and similar pronounciation-neutral spelling
shifts as the first (preferred) spelling, and only including "cancelled,"
"labelled," in second place. Sigh. One can't fight published authorities, unless
one owns the style guide.

Deborah Snavely
Lead Technical Writer
Publications, Software & Systems
Savi Technology / a Raytheon TI Systems company
dsnavely -at- savi -dot- com

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