Spelling with a c or an s (was Re: A College of Magics)

Charles Butler hannibal at thegates.fsbusiness.co.uk
Fri Aug 29 04:13:13 EDT 2003


Minnow:

> This is really difficult to explain, but I am now in a state of mind in
> which I looked at "difference" there, spelt it "differense" and started to
> wonder about "defence" and "defense".

For a long I suffered from hypocricy [sick], but I'm glad to report I'm now
cured.

> In fact, briefly contemplating your saying a bit earlier that the rule
> about the split infinitive has been ditched because it's only from boring
> old Latin and so no longer counts (a very rough paraphrase, please don't
be
> offended)

No doubt you already know this and were only teasing, but the point about
Latin isn't that it's boring - with five thrilling declensions to memorize
no one could call it that - but that it's a different language from a
different language group and (not surprisingly) has a different grammar. The
procrustean project of fitting English grammar onto Latin was the equivalent
of basing human anatomy textbooks on dissections of dogs. Which is exacly
what Galen did, by the way, leading physicians to spend over a thousand
years believing there were perforations in the septum of the human heart,
until Vesalius upped and pointed out that there weren't - and even then,
with ocular proof, plenty of people refused to believe him, such is the
power of classical authority.

I don't feel strongly about split infinitives, or even the pedantry of not
putting prepositions at the ends of sentences. But I do regret the loss of
the double comparitive and superlative (the most unkindest cut of all...).
And I see - well, not red but a pale shade of pink - when people correct
double negatives like 'I wasn't going nowhere' with a superior 'So you were
going somewhere were you? Two negatives make a positive'. As if emphatic
language were indistinguishable from propositional logic, and Lear's 'Never
never never never never!' were an example of someone changing his mind four
times.

> And now I am wondering how one might use the word "memorice".

Perhaps you strain it in a penseive?

Charlie

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