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Well, as you no know, it's very different from "state of the art"! It simply means "how are things at present".


Richard English
 
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Well, Richard, you make it seem as though I mis-titled (a word?) our white paper. I don't think I did, when looking at other state-of-the-art papers. However, I looked it up, and it seems we are both right. Yes, you can use it to mean the highest technological development, but it can also mean, "the highest level of development in a scientific field at a particular time. That is precisely what I had meant by that title.
 
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I meant that the expression "state of play" means "how are things at the moment". "State of the art" has the meaning you attribute to it.


Richard English
 
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Because I brought Richard to my place of work as a consultant, now I am seen as the "expert on England." Roll Eyes Any related question comes my way because they know I have contacts even if I don't know. Wink

So...today there was a call from someone (I wasn't sure who she was because the call was forwarded to me) from England asking about our nursing licenses. She had a wonderful English accent. She kept asking what we do in "America." Now, I think of our country as the United States. Do you in England think of our country as America? We are Americans, yes, but there is South America, and Central America too. Are we all linked together? I am very sure that she simply mean the U.S.
 
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Yes, I think most people here talking about the USA would use "America" like this. If we were meaning to include Canada or Mexico we'd say North America and if we meant anywhere else we'd say Central or South America.

It's probably historical but might also be to do with the fact that a citizen of America is an American whereas we wouldn't know what to call a USAian.
 
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I would generally say "America" when talking of the US, and "North America" when talking of US and Canada. All of what Bob said, really. I rarely refer to our country as USA.


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What has been written really covers the question. It was a historical accident that the USA was thus named and, in retrospect, it would have been far better to have chosen a different appellation. After all, the Canadians and the Mexicans, both of whose countries are in North America, seem to have managed well enough.

But we have to live with what we have and we thus tend to use "American" for a citizen of the USA (as do your Presidents "...My fellow Americans...") but USA when we are referring to the country.

Sadly this ambiguity causes problems, though. Most UK insurance companies load the premiums for "North American" liability cover because of the relatively high settlements for liability claims in the USA. That this same increased premium thereby applies to Mexico, where one would assume liability claims to be low, is an aberration that the insurance companies won't (or won't want to) admit to.


Richard English
 
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Interesting, CW. It must be regional then. Surely I will say I am "American," but I won't say I am from "America." I am from the "United States."

I suppose it could just be I! Wink

(It sure seems that it should be, "just be me!")
 
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Interesting...it is 48 hours before our election, and what is on the first page of the Tribune today? A very long article about the British debate on fox hunting! See, Richard, our media does concern itself with other countries! Razz

This article was apparently written by a Brit; this sentence gives it away: "...it is a pleasant social occasion, an exhilarating jaunt in the country and a chance to indulge in a quintessentially aristrocratic sport redolent of arcane codes and rituals."

Then, there were some words that even my husband didn't know (quite a feat, I must say! Wink), such as toffs. Apparently toffs are elegantly dressed men with affected manners? Another phrase that we don't hear much that must be more British is argy-bargy. Now, that's a great word. The article quoted some of the anti-fox hunters as not really caring about animal rights; they were just out for a little argy-bargy!
 
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What a dreadfully biased article.

'Argy bargy' isn't used that often here anymore I don't think - at least, not in my circles. I'm guessing it shows the age and class of the writer - or at least his aspirations!

As for 'toffs', that describes the aristocracy, pretty much - it's not the most polite of terms!

Incidentally, it's often the hunters who are up for a bit of argy bargy - the true sabs are concerned more with laying false trails to confuse the hounds, and unblocking earths that the hunters have previously blocked (so much for 'sport' - aren't both opponents supposed to have an equal chance in a sport? Isn't that what 'sporting' means?) than with fighting. The only reason I never joined the local sabs when I was at university in the countryside was because of the violence perpetrated on them by the hunters - which of course, although videos exist (I've seen them), is seldom shown on the news.

(Cat puts soapbox away quietly.)
 
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The hunting issue is one that arouses fierce passions and I will not add fuel to the fire. I have said elsewhere, and will say again here, that in my view the Tribune article was not biased. Pro and anti-hunters could, if they wished, infer bias either way - and that will be the case with any article written about just about anything.

To mention only one aspect of the matter - that of violence. Cat says it's the hunters that perpetrate the violence; hunters will claim the opposite. The truth is, as is almost always the case, that violence breeds violence and, in any situation where pro and anti people come face to face, conflict is almost inevitable.

Those who wish to make their own judgements might care to look at an anti-hunting site http://www.sahc.org.uk/ an organisation that gives factual information and links (but which is actually rather pro-hunting) http://www.huntfacts.com/enemies_of_hunting.htm and a completely pro-hunting group http://www.mfha.co.uk/index.html

Country sports, of which hunting is only one, have been under threat by the Labour Government for years and some of the biggest protests in UK history (bigger than those against the Iraq war and George Bush) have been held by the Countryside Alliance who seek to preserve what they see as venerable British traditions. http://www.countryside-alliance.org

There have been a number of polls on the subject and although (as we said in another thread, the questions asked will always affect the data gained), among the public most polls seems to find that there is a small majority in favour of keeping hunting. Among MPs (most of whom are Labour, of course) there is a majority in favour of banning it.

Most people think that that Parliament should stop wasting time on the issue and get on with running the country.


Richard English
 
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Cat, I am not sure if you read the whole article when you said, "What a dreadfully biased article." If not, it is posted in the "balaclava" thread in Q&A. I don't know if it is biased or not, though Richard seems to think it is not.

I can see that the article was correct, though, when it said the whole dispute can cause a lot of, shall we say, discussion? Wink
 
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quote:
Originally posted by Richard English:
Cat says it's the hunters that perpetrate the violence

I didn't say that they ALWAYS start it - or at least, I didn't mean it to sound that way. My point was that the media tend to report it as the other way round, while conveniently ignoring the hunters who whack sabs across the face with their whips and drive their horses into them, amongst other things. I completely agree with Richard that violence breeds violence, and unfortunately it's true that animal rights is one of those campaigns that attract people who are only up for a fight, and who can no longer get it down at their local football ground because security's too tight - so they move on to something else. They have no interest in the issues at hand, and sadly get the rest of us tarred with the same brush. It just makes me so mad when the violence of the other side (in addition to the violence they inflict on non-human animals) isn't reported fairly.

quote:
among the public most polls seems to find that there is a small majority in favour of keeping hunting.


Not the polls I've seen, but the point is that any pastime which involves inflicting suffering on one living being for the fun of another should be banned, no matter how many are in favour of keeping it. Badger baiting and the like (not aristocratic sports, note) are no longer allowed, and the countryside hasn't collapsed. The Countryside Alliance (many of whose other campaigns I agree with) has been taken over by the pro-hunting group who now claim it as a purely pro-hunt organisation, which isn't fair as many CA members are anti-hunting. The huge London demo was for countryside rights, not just hunting, but you wouldn't believe that if you listened to the pro-hunt lobby (look at the news clips and see the anti-hunt banners - there are quite a few!

quote:
Most people think that that Parliament should stop wasting time on the issue and get on with running the country.


I couldn't agree more. Especially since banning hunting with dogs was one of their elction promises in 1997 and they've been stalling ever since.

Incidentally, I don't think a site that is so obviously one-sided (pro or anti - let's be fairSmile) should call itself 'huntfacts.com', since either side will twist things to suit their own argument. One logical problem with hunting is the fact that foxhounds are deliberately bred to be slower than foxes but to have more stamina, thus meaning the hunt takes longer as the fox is run to exhaustion. If it's the most efficient form of pest control as they say it is, why does it take hours to get one fox? Why not use faster dogs to get it over with quicker? (Hint: then it wouldn't be fun).

The anti-hunt link Richard gave is a little emotive, so here's the League Against Cruel Sports It's best to read this and the pro- site and try and sort out the facts for yourselves!

I haven't read the article yet Kalleh, and my original post read "what a dreadfully biased article that sounds like", but that sounded weird! (It was late and I was tired Smile)

And to prove my mind is still on words Wink, this has given me an idea for a new thread...

This message has been edited. Last edited by: Cat,
 
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My logophile friend told me that 'geezer' used to mean the hot water system in English rooming houses. I don't find that reference in Dictionary.com. They say that 'geezer' comes from 'guiser,' a mummer or masquerader.

But, do you Brits know how 'geezer' came to mean hot water system? From 'geyser' maybe?
 
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Hello again!
I'm not a Brit, but I've been in the UK so many times that I've naturally reacted to this word as well. It comes from the Icelandic "geysir" which is "geyser" in English. It spews hot water, as does the water heater in a house.
 
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The hot water boiler is usually spelt geyser, and is pronounced the same as geezer the old man. The Icelandic original is geysir, pronounced gay-seer. I'm not sure how most people would pronounced the English 'geyser' when meaning hot spring.

The evolution of the vowel from guiser to geezer is rather strange. It's as if it went via a Modern French pronunciation of guise, but I don't know why it should have done that.

eta: Snap!
 
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The Icelandic "geysir" is pronounced "GUY-seer" as in "guy=a man" rhyming with "sky." It didn't go via French, but is taken directly from Icelandic, the geysers in Iceland being well known from the time of the Vikings, a thousand years ago. Both water heaters and volcanic springs producing hot water, of course.
The British often change the pronunciation to suit their own language. Therefore the word is recognizable in its written form, but hardly in its pronunciation. In the USA it's still pronounced "GUY-suhr" not "geezer" (which in the USA only refers to an old man).

It's also interesting that the Americans, who are fairly in the dark regarding foreign languages (I'm generalizing, of course) compared to the British, who at least have a better knowledge of French, retain more of the French pronunciation of French words than do the British. For example, in the USA they say "REN-uh-sahns" instead of the British
"ren-AY-sahns." Another example would be "garage" in the USA: "guh-RAZH" and in the UK "GAY-rudge" (or something approximating that!).
 
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quote:
in the UK "GAY-rudge"
The most common way it is pronounced here is probably more like "GA-ridge". It does vary, though, and the French/US pronunciation is pretty common, too.


Build a man a fire and he's warm for a day. Set a man on fire and he's warm for the rest of his life.
 
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Some in the US pronounce garage /gə'raʤ/. I have noticed that there are some computer terms that are pronounced differently in the UK and the US: e.g., beta UK /'bitə/ ~ US /'beʲtə/; distributed UK /'dIstrI,bjutəd/ ~ US /dI'strIbjutəd/.
 
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Can anyone tell me why "jheem"'s message was received here on my computer screen full of small squares instead of letters or punctuation marks? I can't even see a pattern of what they replaced! The message was understandable but those squares appeared about 20% of the time. The only time I've ever seen that before was when a manuscript I sent to India replaced two dashes with those same squares.
 
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Mark. I used Unicode. Not all computer OSes support Unicode yet, though Windows 2K and XP and MacOSX do. It might also be the browser you're using to view the boards with. If it's IE 5.5 or latter or Mozilla, you should be able to see the letters rather than the little squares. Hope that helps. Here's the IPA transcriptions in SAMPA:

garage :- /g@radZ/
beta :- UK /'bit@/ ~ US /'bejta/
distributed :- UK /'dIstrI,bjutId/ ~ US /dI'strIbjutId/.
 
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To clarify, there are two separate words here. There is 'geezer', an old man, from an earlier form 'guiser', a mummer, one who wears a guise. This is the one that looks as if it has gone through a Modern French stage, though in actuality I doubt that it did, and there's something I'm missing.

Then there is the unrelated word 'geyser', a water heater, pronounced the same as 'geezer', viz [gi:z@]. This one is from the Icelandic geysir, 'hot spring', which I'm pretty sure is pronounced [geIsIr], not [gaIsIr]. ([gaIsIr] in Icelandic would be spelt gæsir.)

The words 'geyser', 'garage', 'Renaissance' and so on aren't foreign words, so there's no reason for them to be pronounced in a foreign way. Normal English laws of borrowing and sound change and analogy apply, as they do to any other English words. One way words regularly change in modern languages is by spelling pronunciation: the spelling 'geyser' is seen, and it looks like it reads [gi:z@]. That'a a normal, regular analogical process.
 
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Thanks, jheem. I understood the message, but couldn't understand why the squares where there. Thanks for your explanation! Have a good weekend.
 
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I wish you'd tell that to the British, who seem to Anglicise the pronunciation of French words as a matter of course.
 
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The combined "ae" in Icelandic is pronounced as in the English "gaff" or as in "laugh." The "geysir" is pronounced "gai-seer" as in "guy" with an "ai" as in "high." Sorry I'm not using the phonetic alphabet. I hope the examples are good enough!
 
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It's also interesting that the Americans, who are fairly in the dark regarding foreign languages

Yes, you are right, mark, and I think it is partly because in the '70s universities began to stop requiring foreign languages. Now, I said "partly." Also, I think it is because we are somewhat isolated from other countries that speak foreign languages (with the exception of Mexico.)

My logophile friend described 'geezer' as meaning a 'disreputable old man.' I wondered where he got the 'disreputable' part. I didn't see that definition on the dictionaries; they just said 'old man' or 'eccentric man.' Do you think of a 'geezer' as 'disreputable?'
 
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No, "geezer" in US English at least has never had the feeling of "disreputable." If it has any attached meaning other then "old man" it would have to be "old man you feel a bit sorry for" rather than someone who is disreputable.
 
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As slang "geezer" is a bit dated in the UK nowadays but I don't thinl it's ever had an implication of "disreputable".
 
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Just when I thought it was safe to read a catalog and forget the board . . . I found this ad for a "geezer" shirt. Interesting comments on the product too, don't you think?

Now the question for me is . . . do I buy it for my dad or my husband?


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Oh my God! I really am going to buy it! My sisters and I have always teased my Dad and called him a "geezer," which is one reason I am glad to find that it doesn't mean "disreputable."

Thanks, CW! Wink
 
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Quote "...I wish you'd tell that to the British, who seem to Anglicise the pronunciation of French words as a matter of course...."

Well, if we've absorbed them into our language, then why not?

After all, in spite of official resistance, the French pronounce the many English words they've absorbed in a French manner.


Richard English
 
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Good point!

Unfortunately, that course often leads to misunderstanding. For example, when a Dane is speaking Danish and I understand perfectly everything he says - until he says "sweater" (borrowed from English) and pronounces it "sveeter." It's then that I ask him to tell me what that word means, because I've never heard that "Danish" word before.

But your point is taken, and I do agree with you!
 
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French words have to be anglicized because vowel sounds like the u in tu, -an, -en, -in, -on, -un, eu, don't exist in English.

Every language does this. My wife and kids spend about 3 months a year in Mexico, and our kids have become pretty proficient in Spanish. Once, when my son was about six years old, my father-in-law took him to to McDonalds in Acapulco and had him order an Oreo flurry and a Butterfinger flurry (my father-in-law speaks no Spanish). My son went to the counter and ordered an 'orrr-RAY-o y una booo-tarrr-feen-garrr' Now, he might have heard this pronunciation, but I think that even if he hadn't he would have latinized it because that would have just sounded right.
 
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Interesting, Neveu. The absolute best way to learn a language, I think, is to live in the country and speak the language with the people who live there.

I have a question for the Brits. I was reading an International Council of Nursing report yesterday that is written in British English. It used the words "licence" and then "licensing." Why the second "c" in the first, but not in the second? Confused
 
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The key pair is the noun 'advice' and verb 'advise'. I'm not 100% sure that what I'm about to say is correct, but I believe this may because of an Old English sound rule that voiced some consonants between vowels. So [s] at the end of a word became [z] when you added a vowel ending. In Old and Middle English the verb carried a vowel ending: so you had something like [advis] noun, but [advizen] verb. (I'm not sure how far into Middle English this voicing rule persisted, so I might be wrong in applying it to Middle French borrowings like advice.)

So advice/advise is the clearest example of the alternation, because it's reflected in both spelling and pronunciation. In use (noun: [ju:s]) and use (verb: [ju:z]) the alternation only happens in pronunciation. A similar alernation happens in pairs like bath/bathe and shelf/shelve.

We also have licence noun and license verb, practice noun and practise verb. These seem to have been generalized from the advice/advise distinction, though I can't tell from my dictionary when it was settled, and I'm not sure whether they were actually in a position to be subject to the voicing distinction or if it was just analogy.
 
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Thanks, aput, that makes sense. I am wondering, do you write "generalisation," but "generalize?"
 
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The OED prefers the "ize" ending but many, including me, prefer the "ise" ending. Either is acceptable in UK English although it's important to be consistent within a piece of writing.

The same rule doe not apply to the "yse" ending as in "analyse". The US "analyze" is never acceptable in UK English


Richard English
 
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The c/s distinction only occurs in those few words where at least one is pronounced [s], above. The ize/ise ending is always pronounced [z].
 
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Let's say I had a job in London and my kids went to public schools there, or whatever you call them. If my kids took a spelling test and wrote "humor" or "licence" or "generalization" or "dyspnea" or "ameba," would they get those words wrong? Or is the American spelling acceptable.

My favorite OEDILF limerick is about an "ameba." The workshoppers (if I recall, they were American) made me change it to "amoeba." I had thought that strange.

Here is the limerick, BTW. I just loved the thought of an ameba washing his hair!:

The amoeba is terribly primitive;
It doesn't take plenty for him t' live.
Not a worry or care,
No shampooing his hair,
Yet his life must be really quite dim t' live.
 
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I've never come across ameba before, although I see from Dictionary.com that it is a variant of amoeba and the latter is described as "chiefly British".

I don't really know the answer to your question about the spelling test, Kalleh. I would hope that the teacher would make allowances and count them as right, but draw attention to the normal British spelling.

I'd also feel sorry for any kid who got "dyspnea/dyspnoea" in a spelling test!


Build a man a fire and he's warm for a day. Set a man on fire and he's warm for the rest of his life.
 
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I just remember the arguments I had with American publishers who refused to publish the word "dyspnoea," even though it appeared just that way in the British sources I cited. These were publishers and yet they could only think that the word was misspelled, even after I tried to explain it to them. Having had that experience (in the end, I won), I feel certain that American students would get the words wrong. I just have a feeling (no evidence, of course) that in England, as arnie says, they'd mark them correct and use it as an opportunity to teach cultural differences.
 
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Quote, "...Let's say I had a job in London and my kids went to public schools there, or whatever you call them. If my kids took a spelling test and wrote "humor" or "licence" or "generalization" or "dyspnea" or "ameba," would they get those words wrong? Or is the American spelling acceptable...."

Well, what would happen in a US school is the children used British spellings?

I suggest that they would be marked down and rightly so. US English is different from UK English as, indeed, all forms of English are different one from the other.

The spelling should be as expected in the language of the country - which is why publishers produce different editions of books for different countries.


Richard English
 
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Of course, it is not unlikely that the teacher would not know the alternative spellings. As I said, I'd never come across ameba before and dyspnea/dyspnoea is a medical term that the majority of people cannot be expected to have heard of, let alone spell.

I don't think we can be too dogmatic about this; we can't say that because someone crosses the Atlantic they have to start spelling words differently. If Kalleh's hypothetical kids expected to return to the US in the future they would get really confused. They'd have to start learning British English spellings and then unlearn them when they went back home.

I remember years ago when my sister wrote an essay of the "What I did last weekend" type for school. She mentioned a tennis racquet and the teacher marked it as wrong. This upset my mother who went to the school armed with a dictionary showing that racquet is a perfectly good variant spelling - I believe that racket is the only version in the US. What upset her most was that the teacher hadn't bothered to check, even though my sister was normally an excellent speller.

As some already know, I work for Ofsted, which is the government's schools inspection body for England. Much of our work is involved in assessing how well schools provide for the pupils in various areas. These assessments are known as judgements. In British English judgement is a variant spelling of judgment, and our house style insists that is the way it should be spelled for consistency.

I received a while back an irate e-mail from a headteacher insisting that the only correct way to spell the word was judgment. I replied with a link to OneLook that presumably shut him up as I heard no more. I'd have thought he'd have checked just in case we were right before firing off his e-mail, though.


Build a man a fire and he's warm for a day. Set a man on fire and he's warm for the rest of his life.
 
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Quote "...we can't say that because someone crosses the Atlantic they have to start spelling words differently..."

I am not convinced. How different must a language become before spelling change is necessary? We would not expect English children at a French school to use English spellings for such words as "London" (Londres). The language, and the spelling, that prevails in the location concerned should, like its local time, ideally be used.

I do, though, agree that teachers and others responsible should, at the very least, check that a spelling does not have an acceptable variant.


Richard English
 
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We would not expect English children at a French school to use English spellings for such words as "London" (Londres).

I would say not, because the words are different, even they were spelled the same, (e.g., Paris is not Paris).
 
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I am confused, and you very well may be right, arnie (you usually are!), but don't we spell it "tennis racquet" here in the U.S., too?

I received a while back an irate e-mail from a headteacher insisting that the only correct way to spell the word was judgment.

Ahh, this headteacher needs to post on wordcraft...then he'd know not to contradict our arnie! Wink Spelling it "judgment" doesn't make sense to me; I always find Word correcting me!
 
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I always find Word correcting me!
So did I, even using the UK English dictionary. I had to add it to the dictionary specially.

Dunno about "tennis racquet" in the US; certainly either spelling is acceptable in the UK, and I assumed (perhaps wrongly) that "racket" was the American variant that had gained a foothold here.


Build a man a fire and he's warm for a day. Set a man on fire and he's warm for the rest of his life.
 
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I just received an e-mail from Richard, using what must be a Britishism because we would not say this (unless, of course, I am crazy!): "Heaven forefend." Americans would say "Heaven forbid," wouldn't we?

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Actually only Richard who is in fact 212 years old next birthday would say this in England. It isn't a phrase you are likely to ever hear anyone else use. (Technically though there is of course absolutely nothing wrong with it other than being an archaism).
 
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Heaven forfend

As the phrase dropped out of common usage, except in the English household, before the Declaration of Independence was signed, it is simply English, not British or American English. Wink
 
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