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CHAT useless final -e (was: CHAT behove etc)

From:R A Brown <ray@...>
Date:Sunday, March 12, 2006, 20:31
Nik Taylor wrote:
> Sally Caves wrote: > >> And look how successful that reform was. No, really, it's worth >> asking why these reforms were rejected. Noah Webster seems to have >> been more successful with his dictionary of American English than >> Sprague. Probably *because* he wrote a dictionary. > > > It's questionable how "successful" he was, considering that spellings > like "color" and "center" were already in use before Webster came along. > Whereas, his truely innovative spellings, like "groop" and "frend" and > "giv", to name a few, were completely ignored. It seems that, at most, > people simply used his dictionary selectively to justify the spellings > they were already using, giving them a dignity as "American spellings" > instead of simply "common errors"
Yep - I did a bit of research after I wrote my earlier email. I was sure Sprague was not alone in dropping these final Es when they served no purpose. I found that Noah Webster did exactly the same in his dictionary! So the reason why Merkans didn't adopt things like "genitiv" has nothing to with Webster's not doing that. I can well believe that spellings like "color" were about before Webster; as I wrote, the change from the Norman French -our to the original Latin -or had also started this side of the Pond. We now, for example, _all_ write 'terror' and 'horror'. But for some reason Brits stopped the process. Likewise with -re --> -er; for example the etymological spelling would give "entre", but both sides of the Pond we all write 'enter'. ======================================== Just a reply to one or two points in Sally's mail:
> Individuals who write pamphlets don't usually get the results they want. It has to be > set up by influential committees, like the 18th century prescriptive > grammarians and lexicographers, or those who publish widely disseminated
Sprague's work was rather more than a pamphlet; it seems he also had the support of both the American Philological Association and the London Philological Society, which I guess had some influence. Also I have since discovered that Webster himself seems to have endorsed this reform in his dictionary.
> Exactly. Also, what came first? jail or gaol?
Unquestionably "gaol" came first, from Old French _gaole_. But the common spelling on both sides of the Pond is now 'jail' - and a good thing too IMO.
> Being an American educator, I am attuned to the voice of America and its middle > class resistance to changes in language.
Alas, I guess you're right. 'Twould seem there is in its own way at least as much conservatism in the American bourgeoisie over such matters as there is in the British. It is interesting that you blame us Brits for the sensible 'catalog', 'dialog' etc., whereas we blame you for the self-same things! 'twould seem the bourgeoisie of each country blames t'other one for spellings they find objectionable - sad. ============================================== Sally Caves wrote: > ----- Original Message ----- From: "R A Brown" <ray@...> [snip] >> Exactly. Although way back in PIE times the 'proto-subjunctiv' did >> have an irrealis usage > > > Okay, Ray, perfect! Thank you :) I was not trying to make a point, but just adopted what seems to me an eminently sensible reform that was being pushed in the late 19th century and IMO ought to be revived. > If you keep this up, people like Mark and myself > will eventually copy you, and write "subjunctiv." Good. > What other more > visible listservs are you on? How many other fellow writers write it > this way? In the meantime, we should consider taking the "e"s off of > "claus," "serv" (as it is used in daily speech) I think there are problems with the monosyllabic words. I notice that neither Sprague nor AFAIK Webster used spellings like 'hav'. If the final -e is dropped off "come" and "some", for example, we are left with "com" & "som" which are just as unphonetic. Write 'some' as "sum" is awkward in that we associate both _meaning_ and sound with these short words. But I'm happy to drop it after final -v :) > and maybe even "subordinat." Absolutely! I am not sure whether Webster did that or not; I have a feeling he did not. Maybe the ending was still pronounced /ejt/ in his day. But Webster did give 'definit' & 'definitly' in his dictionary. >"Language" and "usage", though, need it, in order to get > the palatal "g." Similarly with "Romance." Yes, altho as both you and I know, the Welsh sensibly write _garej_, I don't think our fellow countrymen on either side of the Pond would be keen on 'languej' and 'usej' (Why not?) -- Ray ================================== ================================== MAKE POVERTY HISTORY