Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The common heard

I've committed two embarrassing misspellings lately, both errors more common on Google than the correct spellings. Is this common?

The first was "revere" for a type of collar or lapel. Google threw up 398,000 results for 'rever collar' and 1,310,000 for 'revere collar'. It seems perhaps that amongst tailors and dressmakers, presumably the most frequent users of the term, the longer spelling appears a little more phonetic and thus preferred.

My second such recent mistake was with fettucine. Like revere, I picked up the spelling from a computer wordlist I use when composing crossword puzzles -- clearly not the most reliable source. The correct spelling is fettuccine, but a look at Google showed the single-C version to be more common. What's more, the erroneous spelling is recognised by Chambers.

I have no doubt that the dictionaries will eventually follow usage, even disregarding the sensitivities of the French and Italians, but in the meantime I wonder how many other English words are in a similar imbalance of orthographic usage and correctness.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Gone live

The first of my crossword solution and explanation postings has gone live on the Listener website, in Cryptic Crosswords under the Entertainment tab. Here you go.

It's quite a sizeable posting because the puzzle it deals with is the Christmas jumbo with 50 clues. I have been drafting up postings for the following puzzles lately and am appalled to find myself needing to apologise for at least one clue in each. Whether this reflects continual blunders or a pitiful sense of inadequacy I will leave for others to decide. My conclusion: those primary school teachers' reports were right: David Tossman could do better.