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When I am Copyeditor General ...: Daycare centers will have dictionaries


Daycare centers will have dictionaries

I'm on the mailing list for a local caterer/personal chef. While her emails are often informative--noting neighborhood farmers' markets, tasting nights, etc.--today's communication was promoting a fundraiser at her daughter's preschool.

The email marketing ethics (no, really, there are such things) of sending an non-business-related request for donations aside, what particularly struck me was the note about the raffle on the daycare center's website:

Copyeditor General's ruling: At birth, every child will be presented with a mandatory copy of the American Heritage Dictionary. If grown-ups can't get the hang of accurate spelling, what chance do children have?


TheLastBastion said...

I find it difficult to know for sure when you crazy American types are making spelling mistakes or continually evolving your own language

Perhaps sloppiness is part of the process and we can only vent our spleens from the sidelines as change is inevitable.

LimeyG said...

Oh, you crazy bastion.

I draw your attention to Bill Bryson's fabulous Made in America, about the development of US English. He writes:

"Where they could, the first colonists stuck doggedly to the words of the Old World. They preserved words with the diligence of archivists. Scores, perhaps hundreds, of English terms that would later perish from neglect in their homeland live on in America thanks to the essentially conservative nature of the early colonists."

In other words, any crazy Americanisms may well have started out as crazy Britishisms.

And also this:
"David Simpson observes in The Politics of American English, 'Except for Samuel Johnson, no one in 1776, on either side of the ocean, seems to show much concern for a standard spelling practice.'"

As the two countries changed over the centuries, their languages changed with them--independent of each other.

Of course, infernal text messaging is going to be the universal communication channel that finally brings a common language to both sides of the pond ...

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