Wednesday, April 11, 2007

I speak 'merican and write British

No I'm not that completely culturally/linguistically confused... but most of the time, I do find myself saying colour like any other person in the US (oops, color) and writing colour online, on papers, etc. Few would comment on this subtley apparent pronunciation and spelling, but me being a spelling na-hzi, these things annoy me (even if it is for a few minutes). I'd go into how bloody pissing off it is to see people type in chats... but let's not go there today. A couple of us were talking about how we 'mericans spell our words, as opposed to the rest of the world. So before I pass off any more comments, I hearby consider myself as a global citizen (to avoid feeling guilty for biting the hand that feedeth me). So moving on... to me, this unrelenting need to be different is just plain stupid. There are of course many more involuntary deeper affects of all this (like the "American Cultural Imperialism", which is very much seen in how people all over worship 'merican pop stars, 'merican food, 'merican clothing, etc etc). The other day I realized I was saying aluminum, but writing aluminium. A friend caught it and it was kinda hilarious at that moment... but later on, I did some googling and found out that "The International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) officially standardised on aluminium in 1990, though this has done nothing, of course, to change the way people in the US spell it for day to day purposes". Part of the blame can be placed on Noah Webster, "a humourless and deeply religious schoolmaster cum failed lawyer who, after 15 years’ work, published his American Dictionary of the English Language in 1828. One cannot imagine an individual less well suited to the creation of a dictionary; he knew very little of other languages, his ideas about etymology were based more on religion and wishful thinking than historical fact... and he had this bee in his bonnet about simplifying the language by removing unnecessary letters from words". I'll stop quoting and end here. I could write on this for hours... by God, I could! But I think this was just a tiny burst of frustration after today's tiny conversation in my Media and Middle East Hist. class. If you're interested, you can read more about the spelling transformations here and here.

ps. the image always makes me laugh. Click on it to zoom in/out and read

4 comments:

Moi said...

I'm still not very used to writing American spellings...and it's frustrating when for my papers spell-check would throw up errors for the regular words like color, center......

By the ways, there's this blog a friend has on etymology...(in the broadest sense of etymology, and u'll discover why i say that, once u have visited the blog)...They are looking for contributors...Would u wanna join??? have a look :)
http://bookofrev-semantica.blogspot.com/

3ng1n33r said...

lol center... oh boy, the long arguments we've had over that one :)

I might just take you up on that offer Swati! I won't be able to contribute as much... but I bet you guys want a teen perspective? lol ;) just kidding But I know you would want to think it over! hehe I appreciate the offer :) When do I start?

Jas Bhambra said...

When I came for my position in NJ, I showed my doctorate thesis to my new boss and she said, "You have a typo in your title, its aluminum and not aluminium". I then had to shoulder the responsibility to make her realize that there is a world beyond America!

Moi said...

3ng: gimme some time while i get the blog-owner to send u the invite to join the blog! that remins moi, that we'd need ur email add to send it to u !!! can u mail me anytime a swativarma28@gmail.com