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mkcbunny
07-03-2006, 02:23 AM
According to Merriam-Webster, they're both valid, though "alright" gets some hate mail. I need to use one of 'em in dialogue. As it's a spelling issue not a grammar issue, I'd prefer to make the "correct" choice, but I'm looking at "all right" and it feels too long. Somehow, "alright" seems to fit better.

What's the current concensus on this issue?

Thanks

Silver King
07-03-2006, 03:08 AM
In dialogue, "alright" would seem to work. The proper form is "all right." I say this with the utmost trepidation, as I'm not an expert, so you may want to wait for a more expert opinion.

JanDarby
07-03-2006, 04:50 AM
"All right" is the preferred form.

While there's a lot of leeway for informality in dialogue, I wouldn't simply spell something with the less-preferred spelling if it sounds the same either way, which these two do.

Breaking rules in dialogue is more often reserved for colloquial grammar or pronunciation (if you absolutely have to do dialect) than spelling. If someone uses informal or outright wrong grammar while speaking, it says something about his/her character, but if the author, in essence, transcribes his/her words wrong (or at least in the less acceptable version), it doesn't say anything about the character.

Of course, if the character wrote a note to someone and used "alright" (or something that was more blatantly incorrect usage or spelling), it might say something about his character.

JD

Sandi LeFaucheur
07-03-2006, 04:50 AM
Collins Dictionary says:

alright adv. Not standard. Variant spelling of all right.

I always thought that alright was the correct way, but it seems I'm wrong. Alright is all right, but not as right as all right.

illiterwrite
07-03-2006, 05:46 AM
I always spell it as two words.

ResearchGuy
07-03-2006, 06:30 AM
In dialogue, "alright" would seem to work. The proper form is "all right." I say this with the utmost trepidation, as I'm not an expert, so you may want to wait for a more expert opinion.
According to Bryan Garner's Dictionary of Modern American Usage, "alright" may be becoming accepted in British English, but not in American.

Personally, I am not at all sure why "alright" should be any less acceptible than "already." But it is.

FWIW, I edited a fiction anthology that had a lot of dialect (very well done, I thought). I made sure that the usage throughout was "alright" because the more informal tone was appropriate for the dialogue. (Others might disagree, I grant you.) Had the characters been, say, well-educated middle-class suburbanites, then "alright" would not have worked.

--Ken

Sandi LeFaucheur
07-03-2006, 06:40 AM
FWIW, I edited a fiction anthology that had a lot of dialect (very well done, I thought). I made sure that the usage throughout was "alright" because the more informal tone was appropriate for the dialogue. (Others might disagree, I grant you.) Had the characters been, say, well-educated middle-class suburbanites, then "alright" would not have worked.

--Ken

I find it interesting that the class of speaker makes a difference to the spelling of the word. Suppose you had a well-educated middle-class suburbanite having a discussion with a highschool dropout? Would one say "all right" and the other "alright"?

ResearchGuy
07-03-2006, 06:58 AM
I find it interesting that the class of speaker makes a difference to the spelling of the word. Suppose you had a well-educated middle-class suburbanite having a discussion with a highschool dropout? Would one say "all right" and the other "alright"?
Good question. I'd say you have just provided an argument for always using only the preferred spelling, "all right." But then ... the dropout might say "whatever," rendering the issue moot. http://absolutewrite.com/forums/images/icons/icon12.gif

In the case I alluded to, I did not have to face that dilemma. In that particular context, the formal correctness of "all right" seemed to me to draw attention to itself, suggesting a distinctness of enunciation that did not fit--and the characters were of similar background. (The author agreed with my reasoning, by the way.)

Another person editing the dialogue might well have made the other choice: "all right." Who knows ... if I revisit the manuscript, I might reconsider the choice.

--Ken

reph
07-03-2006, 10:24 AM
Personally, I am not at all sure why "alright" should be any less acceptible than "already."Well, "already" doesn't mean "all ready." That's the difference I see. But I may be alwrong.

Count me among those who disagree with using the spelling "alright" because a less educated character would say it that way. Everyone says it the same way. One doesn't insert misspellings in dialogue just because the character speaking is a poor speller. (We don't usually know how well a character spells.) For a dyslexic speaker, one doesn't transpose letters in words.

poetinahat
07-03-2006, 11:30 AM
It's a rock'n'roll argument!

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/c/c7/Tkaa_cover_the_who.jpg

http://eil.com/newgallery/Free-All-Right-Now-320421.jpg

Jamesaritchie
07-03-2006, 05:30 PM
Personally, I am not at all sure why "alright" should be any less acceptible than "already." But it is.



--Ken

For the same reason that "alryght" is less acceptable. "Alright" may be "accepted" as a non-standard word, but it isn't a word. "Non-standard" means "This isn't a word, but semi-literate people think it is, so we're including it."

And ask yourself this. How in God's name does anyone know which you're saying? They're pronounced the same way. When two spellings are pronounced the same way, the rule is to use the correct spelling.

It might be fine to have a character write "alright" to show his lack of education, but in dialogue the sound is the same, and it shows the writer's ignorance, rather than the character's.

Most editors will simply insert the correct spelling, but it is one of those things that can make an editor drink a healthy shot of Maalox, follow that with an unhealthy shot of whiskey, and call it a day.

Variant Frequencies
07-03-2006, 05:47 PM
I once saw in submission guidelines that if they saw "alright" in your ms, they would stop reading.

ResearchGuy
07-03-2006, 09:44 PM
The New York Times Magazine, Sunday, July 2, 2006, has a one-page article on alright vs all right, focusing on use of "alright" in song lyrics.

Read the article. There is too much detail to repeat here.

However, among the important points is that "alright" is becoming a word in its own right:

--to mean superb, outstanding, excellent
--to serve as an intensifier ("he was angry, alright")
--to serve as an attention-getter ("Alright, hands on top of your heads!"), roughly equivalent to "Hey!"

"Alright" has been explicitly distinguished in some lyrics from "all right," the latter having a meaning closer to "ok."

In any event, it would seem odd and arbitrary for someone to stop reading a manuscript on encountering "alright" without examining and considering the context (or, for that matter, considering it a routine copyediting question).

--Ken

ResearchGuy
07-03-2006, 10:07 PM
Well, "already" doesn't mean "all ready." That's the difference I see. But I may be alwrong....
By the same token, "all right" does not usually mean "all right." It more often means "ok," "acceptable," or is simply an interjection. "All right, let's get moving now."

Some will find this of interest, from the usage note to "all right" in the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language:

"[I]All right, usually pronounced as if it were a single word, probably should have followed the same orthographic development as already and altogether. But despite its use by a number of reputable authors, the spelling alright has never been accepted as a standard variant, and the writer who chooses to risk that spelling had best be confident that readers will acknowledge it as a token of willful unconventionality rather than as a mark of ignorance."

The NY Times Magazine article I alluded to before suggests that alright is moving toward acceptance as a distinct word. (Recall that usage expert Bryan Garner observed that "alright" may be becoming accepted in British English.)

I wonder whether eventually "all right" will draw a distinction from "alright" comparable to the distinction now drawn between "all together" and "altogether" (see entry in American Heritage Dictionary). One might likewise note the difference between "all ready" and "already."

--Ken

blacbird
07-03-2006, 10:19 PM
It's a rock'n'roll argument!

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/c/c7/Tkaa_cover_the_who.jpg



No they're not. Half of 'em are dead.

caw.

Silver King
07-03-2006, 10:51 PM
Count me among those who disagree with using the spelling "alright" because a less educated character would say it that way. Everyone says it the same way. One doesn't insert misspellings in dialogue just because the character speaking is a poor speller. (We don't usually know how well a character spells.)

That's an excellent point, Reph, and one which I hadn't considered in a previous reply. Based on your observation, it really doesn't make any sense at all to use "alright," even in dialogue.

I love the Grammar Forum. It's such a valuable resource. Our language is complicated, and we're fortunate to have a place where its mysteries are unraveled by members who offer thoughtful illustrations anyone can understand.

ResearchGuy
07-04-2006, 08:06 AM
This is interesting--or perhaps just more fuel on the fire:

http://www.randomhouse.com/wotd/index.pperl?date=19990604

Worth reading.

--Ken

Shadow_Ferret
07-04-2006, 10:03 AM
My two cents: I always heard you never use alright because you would never use alwrong.

ResearchGuy
07-04-2006, 08:36 PM
My two cents: I always heard you never use alright because you would never use alwrong.
By that token, you would not use already because you would never use alunready, and you would not use altogether (which is derived from all + together) because you would never use alapart.

--Ken

mkcbunny
07-06-2006, 07:34 AM
Thanks everyone. Lord knows I don't want to have my entire novel cast into the abyss because "alright" appears on page 132.

However, I think certain replies regarding an author's "ignorance" and ability to spell were unnecessary. I looked the words up in the dictionary and subsequently came here for some advice. It was a reasonable question. My point was that one word had a more fluid feel than two, but I wanted to pick the preferred spelling.

Medievalist
07-06-2006, 07:55 AM
Alright is eeevill, hideous and aberrant.

I don't like it. Neither does the Blessed American Heritage Dictionary (http://www.bartleby.com/61/77/A0217700.html):

USAGE NOTE: Despite the appearance of the form alright in works of such well-known writers as Langston Hughes and James Joyce, the single word spelling has never been accepted as standard. This is peculiar, since similar fusions such as already and altogether have never raised any objections. The difference may lie in the fact that already and altogether became single words back in the Middle Ages, whereas alright has only been around for a little more than a century and was called out by language critics as a misspelling. Consequently, one who uses alright, especially in formal writing, runs the risk that readers may view it as an error or as the willful breaking of convention.

mkcbunny
07-06-2006, 08:03 AM
Merriam-Webster:
Main Entry: al·right
Pronunciation: (")ol-'rIt, 'ol-"
Function: adverb or adjective
: ALL RIGHT
usage The one-word spelling alright appeared some 75 years after all right itself had reappeared from a 400-year-long absence. Since the early 20th century some critics have insisted alright is wrong, but it has its defenders and its users. It is less frequent than all right but remains in common use especially in journalistic and business publications. It is quite common in fictional dialogue, and is used occasionally in other writing <the first two years of medical school were alright -- Gertrude Stein>.

Forgive me for considering such an atrocious word after reading the above. Clearly, I should have disregarded "alright" as the work of the devil.

Medievalist
07-06-2006, 08:23 AM
And my other objection is one that only another medievalist would care about:

In Middle English alright/alriht is an adverb and means "just, exactly." It is distinct from all right or allright.

Don't make me quote Fowler . . .

RedMolly
07-06-2006, 08:45 AM
Aaron Britt wrote an awesome column (http://www.nytimes.com/2006/07/02/magazine/02wwln_safire.html?ex=1309492800&en=59dcec9d2b8267fc&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss) (subbing for William Safire) on the usage of "alright" in the NYT magazine this last Sunday (7/2/06). As he describes it, "alright" carries a completely different connotation than "all right," and its grammatically acceptable usage is pretty much confined to rock'n'roll songs.

ResearchGuy
07-06-2006, 06:32 PM
...What's the current consensus on this issue?

Thanks
Bottom line: there is no consensus on the issue.

--Ken

three seven
07-06-2006, 06:57 PM
I think certain replies regarding an author's "ignorance" and ability to spell were unnecessary.Yes. I was taught, at a ludicrously expensive school, that 'alright' is perfectly correct, and until today I've never seen it questioned. Therefore, if you want to call anyone stupid, ignorant, uneducated and generally of an inferior class, you'll have to come through me first.

rekirts
07-07-2006, 12:26 AM
Alright! You rock, three seven!

Shadow_Ferret
07-07-2006, 01:10 AM
By that token, you would not use already because you would never use alunready, and you would not use altogether (which is derived from all + together) because you would never use alapart.

--Ken

Actually, that's all kind of silly. Already is not the same as all ready and there is no alunready nor has anyone even used the term all unready.

As far as all right, I'll go with Strunk and White says. You can do as you please.

ResearchGuy
07-07-2006, 06:38 PM
Actually, that's all kind of silly. ... there is no alunready ....

....
Nor is there an "alwrong," which was your example to which I was responding.

Language is not fixed and eternal. Usages change, orthography changes, words are added to the language (sometimes invented to meet a need, such as the verb "to Google" or the term "blog") and words and meanings fade into disuse. If that were not the case, we would all be writing in the style of Dickens, or Shakespeare, or Chaucer, or (back up as many centuries as you choose).

There is an ongoing battle between attempts to enforce fixed standards and attempts to adapt to changing needs and usages. Neither extreme--absolutely fixed vocabulary and usage on the one hand, "anything goes" on the other--seems to be ideal. That leaves writers in the realm of judgment. (Or make that the realm of judgement if you wish to adhere to the British spelling ...)

IMHO FWIW.

--Ken

Shadow_Ferret
07-07-2006, 07:01 PM
Right, there is no alwrong. But people do say all wrong. That was my point. Thus because you don't write alwrong you wouldn't write alright (which is what I was taught by my English teacher, so yell at her!).

three seven
07-07-2006, 07:48 PM
'Alright' doesn't mean 'all right' though, does it? It means 'okay'. 'All right' means 'all correct', which is something else entirely.

Shadow_Ferret
07-07-2006, 08:17 PM
I thought they had the same meaning, thus the spelling confusion.

reph
07-07-2006, 08:49 PM
In U.S. usage, "all right" means "acceptable" or "I agree" more often than it means "all correct." One of Elvis's first commercial hits was "That's All Right, Mama" (though I'm not sure the song title had the comma).

"Let's go for a walk."

"All right, I'll put my coat on."

Shadow_Ferret
07-07-2006, 08:59 PM
So "I checked to see if everyone was all right after the accident." is incorrect usage?

ResearchGuy
07-07-2006, 10:59 PM
Right, there is no alwrong. But people do say all wrong. That was my point. Thus because you don't write alwrong you wouldn't write alright (which is what I was taught by my English teacher, so yell at her!).
Well, I'll tell you, if alright is good enough for the Oxford English Dictionary, it is good enough for me. OED defines it as meaning "just, exactly," and cites usage (with variant spellings alrihtes and alriht) as far back as 1175. Etymology: all + rihte. I'll wager that your high school English teacher did not know that. Granted, OED flags it as obsolete. But the claim here has been that it is not a word, not that it had fallen out of wide use by the early 20th Century.

I should have opened my Compact Edition of the OED (photoreduced, not abridged) earlier in this discussion. That most comprehensive and authoritative dictionary of the English language accepts the word as established for eight centuries (allowing for the changing spelling of right). Now the discussion should not be whether it is an accepted word, but only about its range of meanings and, for those who wish to quibble, whether alright ever truly became entirely obsolete or merely disfavored.

--Ken

ResearchGuy
07-07-2006, 11:05 PM
So "I checked to see if everyone was all right after the accident" is incorrect usage?
Of course it is not incorrect. It is standard English. Now you are being perverse.

--Ken

reph
07-08-2006, 11:59 AM
Well, I'll tell you, if alright is good enough for the Oxford English Dictionary, it is good enough for me....Granted, OED flags it as obsolete....

Now the discussion should not be whether it is an accepted word, but only about its range of meanings and, for those who wish to quibble, whether alright ever truly became entirely obsolete or merely disfavored.If "alright" is obsolete, then it isn't an accepted word now. Consequently, it shouldn't be used in current writing.

According to the OED, its range of meanings is quite narrow. It means "just, exactly." People don't use it that way, though. They use it to mean "all right." The OED's definition doesn't support this use.

brianm
07-08-2006, 12:16 PM
Interesting, as I have used it both ways in my WIP. My American characters use "all right" and my Northern Irish characters use "alright" as the "L" is very nearly silent when they speak the word. Maybe, I should change everything to "all right" and then demand it be switched AFTER I have a contract... lol.

TsukiRyoko
07-08-2006, 02:36 PM
According to Merriam-Webster, they're both valid
From what I learned, "alright" is considered more of a slang term for dialogue. I think it's also used to reflect personal expression. "How are you"/"I'm alright" whereas "all right" holds more resolve in it's meaning, using dealing with something more pliable, such as plot or conflict.

I don't know for sure, of course, but that's how I was taught and have been using them. Haven't gotten any complaints so far. When in doubt, find another word(s) that seems suitable. Alright/all right? :)

three seven
07-08-2006, 02:36 PM
This discussion is going round in circles. We're never going to agree.

You're not going to be rejected for it so just use whichever you want, depending on how much of a literary snob you are, and move on.

TsukiRyoko
07-08-2006, 02:43 PM
Interesting, as I have used it both ways in my WIP. My American characters use "all right" and my Northern Irish characters use "alright" as the "L" is very nearly silent when they speak the word. Maybe, I should change everything to "all right" and then demand it be switched AFTER I have a contract... lol.

No, no, you shouldn't have to change it. Because you're using both forms of the word with different characters, and doing so consistantly (and dealing with dialogue), it should be fine. Same as portaying a drunkard saying "'Ey! Get o'er here!", it simply has to deal with accent and such.

TsukiRyoko
07-08-2006, 02:47 PM
Well, "already" doesn't mean "all ready." That's the difference I see. But I may be alwrong.

Count me among those who disagree with using the spelling "alright" because a less educated character would say it that way. Everyone says it the same way. One doesn't insert misspellings in dialogue just because the character speaking is a poor speller. (We don't usually know how well a character spells.) For a dyslexic speaker, one doesn't transpose letters in words.

I think using a simpler spelling of a word doesn't imply that the person's a bad speller, just that the character is more of a "street" person, to type in a more commonly used stereotype. Just shows a person as being more brash, and sometimes more shameless than an "all right" character.

three seven
07-08-2006, 02:56 PM
Do I need to say move on a bit LOUDER?

Variant Frequencies
07-08-2006, 05:36 PM
From the "What We Want" page at Shimmer magazine:

"No matter what, do not use "alright." It’s "all right." Two words. Beth, our editor-in-chief, stops reading instantly when she sees "alright."

You have been warned."

So yes, you might be rejected for it.

reph
07-08-2006, 09:12 PM
Do I need to say move on a bit LOUDER?Shouting won't help. The discussion isn't over until all the discussants have had their say. That includes replying to recent posts.

The choice between "all right" and "alright" isn't reducible to the writer's personal preference. "Alright" is obsolete, and it didn't mean "all right" while it lived. And when rendering dialogue, you don't spell a word the way the character would spell it. (What if a character who's illiterate says his name? You don't show it as a scrawled X, do you?) You spell the word the way he'd pronounce it, if you're using spellings to indicate dialect at all. In a conversation between an English and an American character, you don't make the former say "My favourite colour is red" and the latter say "My favorite color is blue."

A drunk or sleepy character might say "Awright." That spelling would serve a purpose. But this?
"Yo, Nigel, wassup? Are you feeling all right, dude?" Buddy said, waving the Stars and Stripes.

"Oh, yes," Nigel said as he polished his RAF medals. "I say, old chap, I've just had a look at the OED, and I've resolved to restore obsolete words to current use. I feel alright indeed."
Sorry, but no.

ResearchGuy
07-09-2006, 01:46 AM
If "alright" is obsolete, then it isn't an accepted word now. Consequently, it shouldn't be used in current writing....
Methinks that opens a whole new can of worms.

Be that as it may, one would severely limit his or her characters if they were not allowed to use obsolete (archaic) English, slang, casual constructions, dialect, malapropisms, and so on. One cannot very well force characters to speak in nothing but perfectly formed sentences--at least not without losing the individuality of the characters.

In the case at hand, however subtly so, the variant spelling, even if pronounced similarly, may well (as another post today points out) carry shades of meaning or implication. BUT--and this may be key here--the writer has to know what he or she is doing and why. If there is not a sufficient reason for breaking the rules (or having the characters break the rules), then it is probably not a good idea to break the rules. Needing to avoid having a rural, working-class high-school dropout character sound like an upper-crust Harvard-educated CEO is probably a good reason.

High-school English teachers, the source of much mischief in such matters, are, I suspect, rarely attuned to that level of subtlety.

--Ken

ResearchGuy
07-09-2006, 02:19 AM
From the "What We Want" page at Shimmer magazine:

"No matter what, do not use "alright." It’s "all right." Two words. Beth, our editor-in-chief, stops reading instantly when she sees "alright."

You have been warned."

So yes, you might be rejected for it.
Ah, well. If such an august publication as, uh, Shimmer says so . . . . How, mmm, retentive of them to so warn.

(I suspect that Shimmer receives a lot of unpublishable twaddle submitted by amateurs and has focused on a quck indicator of twaddlishisness to facilitate rejections. I sense a level of impatience, if not disgust, with semiliterate would-be writers. But that is pure inference.)

--Ken

P.S. Of course only "all right" is currently considered standard English, and of course careful writers will adhere strictly to standard English without good reason to vary and an understanding of what is acceptable to the editor. (But then, those who have mastered the game can probably write as they jolly well please, as if they are selling enough editors and publishers won't care if they are writing in Pig Latin, let alone using non-standard variants.) But bear in mind: once upon a time, the language of the King James Version of the Bible was the last word in elegant and correct English. Now, how exactly do you figure it came to pass that no one speaks that way any more? (Or should that be, "How dost thou . . . ?) Language changes, that is how. And it is still changing. That is exactly how words come to be obsolete! If language were unchanging as of a given moment, no word, phrase, or usage would ever become obsolete. And none would be added. Now, pardon me while I google some information on phishing for my blog, download some new ringtones, and run a spyware check on my PC.

ResearchGuy
07-09-2006, 02:21 AM
Do I need to say move on a bit LOUDER?
LOL! Move on to WHAT? The title of this thread is "All Right v. Alright" for crying out loud!

--Ken

three seven
07-09-2006, 03:10 AM
Shouting won't help. The discussion isn't over until all the discussants have had their say.
If it's a discussion, that's fine, but the last time I checked it was a slanging match and a number of members' intelligence was being insulted. If that continues, the 'discussion' most certainly will be over.

ResearchGuy
07-09-2006, 03:33 AM
If it's a discussion, that's fine, but the last time I checked it was a slanging match and a number of members' intelligence was being insulted. If that continues, the 'discussion' most certainly will be over.
Alright, alright, alright already. http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/images/icons/icon8.gif Sheesh.

--Ken

reph
07-09-2006, 04:24 AM
If it's a discussion, that's fine, but the last time I checked it was a slanging match....It looks to me like a standoff. Both sides are sure they're right.

Sandi LeFaucheur
07-09-2006, 05:09 AM
Well, you can always be like me--and sell out. I've always spelt it "alright" (and you'll notice I spelt "spelt" "spelt" and not "spelled"), but I've started spelling it "all right" just because that's what I've learnt (not learned) editors prefer. Even though it looks wrong. "All right" just doesn't look right, especially when used as a greeting. (Is it used as a greeting in America? "Alright, Sid?" etc.?) But when it comes to submitting, I'll put all right, spelled, learned. Hey, maybe that's why it's called submitting--because that's what I've done.

Medievalist
07-09-2006, 05:11 AM
But bear in mind: once upon a time, the language of the King James Version of the Bible was the last word in elegant and correct English.

Err, actually, no, it wasn't. It was deliberately tailored to be understood by the common folk who would have it read aloud to them.

The emphasis, for most of the committee (Lancelot Andrews was an exception) of translators was on political correctness (they did want to keep their heads), theological correctness (they did all believe in Hell) and accuracy, in that order.

ResearchGuy
07-09-2006, 10:19 PM
How do new words and new meanings for words get into dictionaries or become accepted as standard?

Editorial staffs collect examples of word use. They scour publications to observe word use and receive clippings submitted by readers. When a word has appeared enough times with a recognizable meaning (and especially when careful and respected writers are using it), the editors have to take notice. That means that a word might be used for years--even commonly used--before it appears in any dictionary, or before it appears with that particular definition, or appears without some pejorative notation. It might be a regional usage that graduates to general acceptance, or a slang term that gains respectability. (But even slang words are in dictionaries, and may be used by careful writers when appropriate. Take hoosegow, a slang term for a jail. In the right context, it might be precisely the word that is needed by a careful writer. It has connotations, not to mention a resonance, that "jail" does not.)

So ... to say that it is wrong to use a word that is not (yet) in dictionaries or that is not (yet) labeled as standard, or to use a variant spelling that is not (yet) in dictionaries runs into the logical problem that it is only through use that words (and variants, and new meanings) get into dictionaries. And, I should add, it is sufficiently common use by educated writers and speakers that leads to a new word (or new use of an old word, or a variant spelling) appearing in dictionaries. Hence, one might find oneself with egg on his or her face for condeming use of a word as "nonstandard" when at that moment the galleys are being prepared for the new editions of dictionaries that include and recognize the word (or its new use) as standard.

Does anyone here have any doubt as to the meaning or propriety of spyware, blog, blogger, virus (in the sense of a malicious and self-perpetuating computer program), cell phone, or any of numerous other words and phrases that were not in any dictionary when they came into wide and widely accepted use in recent years?

As for my KJV reference ... ok, fine. Perhaps the commenter would be able to live with "graceful and generally accepted" as a description of how the language of the KJV was once viewed. But the point is still that, with the possible exception of the Amish (?), no one speaks or writes like that any more, and meanings of many words have changed or been lost to everyday English.

Now ... dictionaries differ in their standards. There is (or so I have heard) a scene in one of Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe mysteries, written not long after the appearance of Merriam-Webster's Third New International Dictionary, in which Wolfe sits before a roaring fire, tearing a page at a time from a copy of that dictionary and dropping it into the flames as a gesture of contempt for the loose standards applied in that new edition. (Purists still hold on to their dog-eared copies of the famed second edition.) Merriam-Webster achieved notoriety for its loose standards. In contrast, at least when my father was its etymological editor, from the 1940s through the 1980s, Webster's New World Dictionary of the American Language followed stricter standards and was not in such a hurry to admit new words or new meanings. (If I recall correctly, it was my father, who was an avid mystery reader as well as scholar and teacher, who told me the Nero Wolfe story. He viewed Merriam-Webster's lax standards with disdain. I would be interested in his view of the controversy in this thread, were he still alive.)

All by way of discussion.

--Ken

Silver King
07-10-2006, 05:48 AM
I, for one, will never argue with a person who addresses himself from a "research" perspective. There's no way to win. He's rung this discussion through enough ringers that he's starting to make sense (and I say this with the utmost respect to Ken). This issue is like magnifying a diamond and seeing the carbon deposits. The dark spots are still there, but if you stand back, the jewel shines clear.

aka eraser
07-10-2006, 05:33 PM
Until now, I've been too darn fearful to set font in this forum. I've been known to take liberties with language - to massage a word or phrase to fit my current purpose.

Reading this thread has been like clambering up the ladder, holding my nose and jumping off the high board. As soon as my testicles descend I'll be back.

Oh, by the way, one of the characters in The Trailer Park Boys is a white guy who thinks he's black and talks "street" allatime. He pronounces it without "l"s or the "r" as in: "A'ight."

Shadow_Ferret
07-10-2006, 07:11 PM
How do new words and new meanings for words get into dictionaries or become accepted as standard?



I thought it was by being overused and abused by the less literate in our society.

Kentuk
09-26-2006, 11:16 AM
The issue isn't spelling it is how it is spoken.
Alright is said as one word. There is no emphisis on the all.
All right is said as two words with emphisis on both words.
"All right! I abosolutely agree!"
"Alright lets go that direction."