Monday, November 26, 2007

Let Freedom, um, Rain

We liked this essay from The Christian Science Monitor:

Reign in those vocal chords

The English language is a thing of wonder. But, alas, spellings that were once deemed incorrect have gained official acceptance.

By Robert Klose

I consider myself rather progressive in my political and social views. (Look to wind and waves for electrical power? Seems like a good idea to me!) But when it comes to the English language, I may very well be a fogy.

Recently, on National Dictionary Day, there was a report on the evening news about revisions being made by the Oxford University Press (OUP) to its American Oxford Dictionaries. In short, the spelling of many terms and expressions, long deemed incorrect, would now be listed as acceptable forms simply because a lot of people use them.

One example is "vocal cord." As a biology teacher, I've written this on the board so many times that I consider myself an expert on its spelling. However, the OUP tells us that many, many people write "chord." Therefore, "chord" has now been given the status of a bona fide spelling.

Another instance is "to rein in." I am not a horseman, but I've always understood that this refers to a rider's pulling back on the reins to either slow his steed or get it to stop. However, many people, it seems, like to write "reign." And so – poof! – this is now acceptable.

Read on...

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