Spellign

When I lived in Korea the first time I saw a handbag proudly bearing the logo

RALPH LAURNE

A few days ago I saw a t-shirt proudly bearing the logo

Gaevin Klien 

I don’t know and can’t guess whether the manufacturers of those items don’t read English or don’t care or they want to take money from people who don’t read English or don’t care or who know perfectly well it’s fake but they buy it anyway, or whether they did it deliberately to avoid or at least defend an intellectual property infringement suit. But accidentally or deliberately misspelling the brand name doesn’t make the item any less of a fake.

Ralph Laurne is widespread on the internet (but appears to be a typo rather than referring to handbags or anything else in Korea), but I couldn’t find any instance of Gaevin Klien. 

By the way, my ajumma students quite proudly flaunted their fake designer goods, perhaps more so than their genuine ones.

Duffins, cronuts and olive jars

A trip to a local shopping centre yielded two linguistic snippets. One shop was selling duffins, which it helpfully explained as “not a donut, not a muffin”. Cronuts (doughnuts made from croissant dough) have been a thing for a while now (Wikipedia says 2013). Duffins appear to be new. Wikipedia does not have a page for them and several news stories online from earlier this month talk about the product’s launch, but the company’s own website says that “The duffin is back”. Pages for Mac auto-changes duffin to muffin and red-underlines it when I change it back. 

Hang on, though. If a doughnut made from croissant dough is a cronut, then shouldn’t one made from muffin dough be a muffnut? Maybe not …

(spelling: Google Ngrams shows that doughnut is used more in BrEng, and about equally with donut in AmEng. I don’t often write about them, so I don’t know what my natural usage is. (PS My diary for my first stay in Korea 2006-9 has three instances of donut(s) and none of doughnuts, but that’s hardly convincing.)) 

(pronunciation: I had always pronounced croissant with kw-. Various dictionaries give kr-, krw- and kw-, so there’s obviously no unanimity (Wiktionary gives the most options). The other issue is -ant, which can be -ant, -ont, -ənt or ɒ̃. A lot depends on how French you try to be.)   

My wife bought a jar of olives. Around the top is a message/are messages in four languages. 

CAPSULA DI SICUREZZA / PREMENDO AL CENTRO, L’ASSENZA DI “CLIC CLAC” GARANTSICE L’INTEGRITA DELLA CHIUSRA
CAPSULE DE SECURITE • SE SOULEVE A L’OUVERTURE / LE “CLIC CLAC” A L’OUVERTURE EST VOTRE GARANTIE
SAFETY BUTTON / SAFETY BUTTON POPS WHEN SEAL IS BROKEN
VAKUUM • SICHERHEITSVERSCHLUSS / KNACKT BEIM ERSTEN ÖFFNEN

I won’t discuss these at length, but clearly, different languages say equivalent things in different ways, and use a different number of words to do so.

PS 25 Jul: at a work meeting today my manager digressed and spontaneously mentioned lamingscones (which I have now discovered is styled as Laming-Scones). Non-Australians may need to look up lamingtons and scones.  

PPS 1 Aug: today I watching a Youtube video by someone walking around Seoul. I saw a bakery advertising croiffles. 1 Sep: Another video shows croffles.

PPPS 2Aug: I mentioned this on Facebook and a friend said her local supermarket sells muffnuts.

Shellharbour and Victor Harbor

My wife and I spent a night in the coastal town of Shellharbour. Similar couples spent a similar night in a similar coastal town, Victor Harbor

Australian English overwhelmingly prefers –our spellings to –or (most style guides specify –our and Pages for Mac’s Australian English autocorrect changed Victor Harbor to Harbour), but usage has swung back and forth over the years. Around the time Victor Harbor was officially named, –or spellings were in favour, so that official spelling was given and has been retained; likewise with the Australian Labor Party. (For more about these spellings, see Wikipedia in general, about the Labor Party. Basically, the –or spellings reflect the Latin original and the –our spellings reflect French –eur.)

Note also that Shellharbour is now one word, while Victor Harbor remains two. I guess running four syllables together is just too clunky.

That’s a moray

A document referred to someone transgressing the social morays of his community. Morays for mores is not a knew misteak. The Eggcorn Database (2005) and Language Log (2004) have both discussed it. I was surprised to find that mores is far moor common in general than morays – more often the misteak is using a moor common word in place of a less common one. That has to be wayed against the fact that morays is a moor obvious spelling. The traffic seems to be all one weigh – I can’t imagine that anyone writing about Muraenidae (I had to look that up – I am not a marine biologist) types mores by misteak. 

Social mores mostly come in plurals. A singular social more exists but is used less often. Technically, won of them is a social mos but I doubt if even the most ardent Latinist says or writes that.

Talking about this with my colleagues, I couldn’t help mentioning the song That’s amore. Many years ago I encountered the parody:

When an eel bites your knee as you swim in the sea, that’s a moray.

The next day one of my colleagues complained that the song had been stuck in her head all day. I said: 

When it sticks in your head as you’re lying in bed, that’s an earworm.  

(PS sea watt I did their?)

Family history part 3

One of my hobbies is family history research, which I do when I can between everything else. Recently I’ve been researching two families from Cornwall, partly because the Cornwall Online Parish Clerks website has an extensive database and easy-to-use search. 

One of my great-great-great-great-grandmothers had the surname Trevaskis. Except that it appears as Trevascus on her baptism record in 1798. The baptism records for that parish record a Trevaskes in 1693, then Trevascus (1708), Treveskeys (1711), Trevascas (1768), Trevaskis (1780), Trevaskus (1780) and  Trevarcus (1785). Then in 1819, everyone decided that they were going to use the spelling Trevaskis. It is possible that these were different families, each with their own spelling, and that the others died out, but I doubt it. The family which used the  spelling Trevaskis in 1819 previously used Trevascus in 1804 and 1807, Trevaskus in 1809, Trevascus again in 1811 (two records, for Jennifer and Jenifer), Trevascus and Trevaskus in 1814 (two records for one child), Trevaskis and Trevaskus in 1816 (two records for another child) and finally Trevaskis in 1819 (two records, for Margaret Trevaskis and Margaret Edwards Trevaskis).

But we can’t blame the families for this. There was less standardisation of spelling in general, and the information which I am seeing on the internet has gone through at least two sets of ears/eyes, brains and hands – the vicar or parish clerk of the day and the volunteer transcriber of recently. The database search allows for wildcards – I found all of the above (as well as Trevanen and Trevorrow, each with a smaller number of variants) by searching for trev%. (PS the website says, in the small print: “We make no warranty whatsoever as to the accuracy and completeness of the data”.)

I’ve discovered branches of the family which I either didn’t know existed, or only had the most basic information for. But sometimes I hit a brick wall. One great-great-great-grandmother was married in 1855 and came to Australia in 1857. Is she the girl of that name baptised in that village on 12 Apr 1835, or the one of the same name baptised in the same village on 17 April 1836? Or was she one of the six other girls of the same name baptised elsewhere in Cornwall in those two years, or was she older or (possibly) younger than that? (And it’s not the case that the first one died young and the parents gave the second one the same name – the two have different parents.) I may never know. It also does not help that there was a limited supply of given names, and most children only had one given name – this one had a middle name, and there’s still that choice. (But I did find another ancestress (and more of her family) because of a very unusual middle name.)

By the way, my ancestry is English and probably Welsh on my father’s side, and Scottish, Scots-Irish, Irish (probably Scots-Irish) and Cornish on my mother’s. Various great-, great-great- and great-great-great-grandparents came to Australia between the 1840s and 1880s. We know almost of the great-great-great-grandparents’ names, with a greater or lesser amount of details, and with some families traced beyond that. Most of what I’ve done is collating information from other family members, plus some research of my own.

I slept (or sleeped) and dreamt (or dreamed)

Some time ago I posted about the alternation between leaned and leant, dream and dreamt etc. I said that I had more-or-less decided to use leaned and dreamed, mostly because they are clearer for second-language listeners to understand, but then I quite naturally used leant when talking to one second-language listener. 

My work team has been working from home (mostly full-time but at least part-time) for almost two years. Alongside work-related emails, we send social/personal ones. One of my colleagues is studying psychology and is particularly interested in dreams. I can’t remember enough of most of my dreams, but occasionally one will persist after I wake up. A few days ago I sent an email with a brief description of my dream, starting “I dreamed …”. Another colleague picked me up this, so I explained the alternation and my decision, with a link to my blog post. She commented that the song from Les Misérables really couldn’t be I dreamt a dream. (With a side thought about the alternation between I dreamed/dreamt a dream and I dreamed/dreamt, and also I had a dream.) 

Along the way, because of its connection with dream, I also thought about sleep, which has the strong irregular form slept. But sleep now means something like to place a computer into a power saving mode. We can sleep a computer, and sleeping a computer is also common, but do we say I slept my computer or I sleeped a computer? At the moment, the usage isn’t common enough to be sure. There are a handful of results for I slept my computer and one for I sleeped my computer. Most people avoid the problem by putting their computer into sleep mode. Compare Stephen Pinker’s example of The batter flied out to centre (<my Australian-set auto-correct changed center to centre), not The batter flew out to centre. Because of my almost zero experience of baseball, I don’t have to worry about that, though.

Despite what I wrote in the title to this post, I definitely slept, but I may have dreamt or dreamed.

Omelette

Yesterday, a colleague advised us that it was International Chocolate Cake Day. Another colleague shared an image of a chocolate cake with the text: 

I had this delicious omlette this morning. I seasoned the eggs with sugar, oil and chocolate, and threw in a little flour for texture. 

Ha ha.

A third colleague pointed out that there should be an e after the m

Inquiring linguistic minds want to know why omelette is right and omlette is wrong. 

Courtesy of the Online Etymology Dictionary, the story begins with Latin lamina (plate, layer) (with a variety of modern meanings) and lamella (small plate, layer) (also with a variety of modern meanings) and progresses through French la lemelle > l’alemelle > alemele > alemette (which is a double diminutive) > omelette to arrive in English. American English prefers omelet. Omlette and omlet exist but are rare, and at this stage are probably still mistakes rather than genuine alternatives. Pages for Mac autocorrects omlette and omlet to omelette and omelet. So omelette has the first e because Latin lamella had/has one.

For me, omelette is solidly two syllables, but Dictionary.com gives the two- and three- syllable pronunciations.

Psycho

Many years ago, a service worker introduced herself as a name which sounded like Psycho. It would have been unreasonable to ask for clarification, so I just tucked it away at the back of my mind. Maybe now I’d have more confidence to ask. 

A few months ago I was watching a video by Chris Broad, who has a Youtube channel about his life in Japan. One, titled 25 ESSENTIAL Japanese Words for EVERYDAY Conversation includes the word saikou literally the most, used to mean It’s the best. Searching for Japanese names, I found Saiko. There’s no definitive website of Japanese names, but this one gives a number of meanings, depending on the kanji; others give ‘most, greatest’ as the or a meaning. In the absence of any further information, I’ll assume that the service worker was Japanese, and this was her name. You’d think that some colleague would have told her that it’s not a good name for a service worker trying to make a good impression. Either that or wear a name tag.

I searched for ‘name sounds like psycho’ and found this unexplained site of Baby names like Psycho, which a) isn’t the same thing and b) mostly aren’t remotely like psycho. 

So why did this name stick in my mind out of all the service workers who have ever introduced themselves? Probably because of the unusualness of it. Maybe if I’d moved to Japan and/or been a manga or anime fan, I might have discovered this sooner.

(There’s a cartoon of a worker lettering the door of an office with ‘Psycho the rapist’.)

Adaption and adoptation

A few days ago I hurriedly typed adaption rather than adaptation. Adaption isn’t wrong – it’s in multiple dictionaries and Pages for Mac accepts it – it’s just far less common than adaptation

Starting with adapt and adopt, there’s no particular reason why adaptation and adoption are standard, adaption is rare and adoptation is either very rare or wrong (Pages for Mac auto-corrects it to adaptation, then red-underlines it when I change it back.) Perhaps it’s related to the fact that opt by itself is a verb, whereas apt is an adjective. But that shouldn’t matter as long as adapt and adopt are both verbs.

Humans tend to want to say things as economically as possible. Adaptation and adoption are standard, so English speakers are more likely to shorten adaptation to adaption than to lengthen adoption to adoptation.

This got me thinking about the whole process of derivational suffixes in English. Humans will say longer word if there’s a change in meaning or word class. Adapt and adopt aren’t good examples, whereas act gives far more examples:

act (verb, noun) > active (adj) > activate (verb) > activation (noun)
act (verb, noun) > activity (noun) > do an activity (verb phrase) 
act (verb, noun) > action (noun) >  %action, %actionis/ze (verb) > %actionis/zation (noun) 
(among others)

Some people complain about or reject either or both of zero derivation (action as a verb) and overuse of –is/ze (actionis/ze) (partly because these are associated with business-speak), but these words fill a useful gap. Actioning or actionising a request or order isn’t the same as activating it, or even acting on it. The client makes or submits a request or order and the service worker ____s it. Google Ngrams suggests only receives, grants or refuses, which is not what we’re looking for. Fulfil is possible, but that means completing the action. Is the service worker the actioner? (Not auctioneer, which Pages for Mac just changed it to.)

See acclimate v acclimatise and direct for similar thoughts.

Sing Noël! Sing Gloria!

It was probably inevitable that a married couple of songwriters named Noël and Gloria would write a Christmas song. Noël Regney and Gloria Shayne wrote Do you hear what I hear? (first recording, by the Harry Simeone Chorale) in October 1962. 

Or maybe not, because his name was actually Léon, and he was hesitant to write a Christmas song due to the commercialisation of Christmas. Noël wrote the words, influenced by the then-current Cuban Missile Crisis and Gloria the music.

Gloria came into English straight from Latin, and also via Old French glorie to become Middle English glory. I couldn’t figure out what the origin of noël (or noel) might be, and would not have guessed that it comes from Latin diēs nātālis day of birth (compare nativity). French did drastic things to Latin (note also that glorie became gloire), but that one is a stretch. Noël is a relatively late arrival into English, dating from 1805-1815. The First Nowell was first published in 1823.