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Declamation of a Grammar Nazi

Have you noticed that rules for Alphabetisation in Windows are not followed?  If you arrange your bookmarks alphabetically using the setting “arrange by title” the resulting alphabetised list is incorrect.

Arrange your list “by title” and observe the results.  Notice the selections in your list under letter ‘t.’  Any selection beginning with an article (the, a, an) is placed incorrectly.  The Economist Magazine is situated under ‘t’ rather than ‘e.’  Locate “The New York Times” and you will find it under ‘t’ rather than under ‘n’ where it belongs.  

An important Rule for Alphabetisation is this; one does not position a title according to the article associated with an entry. Since Windows browsers contain this error, one is compelled to move entries, by hand, to affect corrections which should not have arisen in the first place.

If you are using a ‘spell checker,’ you may notice a red line under words like ‘affect’ or ‘effect.’  Affect is a verb.  ‘Effect’ is a noun.  Spelling changes according to grammatical function which the ‘spell checker’ fails to observe.  ‘Licence’ is a noun.  ‘License’ is a verb.  ‘Practice’ is a noun. ‘Practise’ is a verb.  ‘Alphabetisation’ is correct.  ‘Alphabetization’ is incorrect.  Many words incorrectly spelled are acceptable in American English.

Oh, it gets worse.  One can find both ‘regardless’ and ‘irregardless’ in American dictionaries, but there is no such word as ‘irregardless.’  ‘Irregardless’ is a diction error. Take ‘quote’ a verb, and ‘quotation’ a noun.  American English uses verbs as nouns, even adjectives as nouns.  ‘Please quote a quotation’ is a legitimate sentence, though  it seems strange, even awkward.  

One might suppose that this language difficulty arises because most software engineers are American and set the language choices for English on American English rather than British English.  One can set the ‘spell checker’ for British English or UK English but many words will be American spellings forcing one to manually correct the ‘spell checker.’

Canadians are affected by American culture that permeates everything we read, movies, and television.  We are also influenced by our British heritage.  It wasn’t so long ago when American spellings were marked wrong on school papers.  Today, they are accepted as ‘alternative spellings,’ which isn’t precisely correct.

Kevin and Emma

Kevin and Emma

I was reminded of this day before yesterday.  I was introduced to a lovely lady from Ireland, Emma (I chose to avoid her last name to avoid any potential for embarrassment for her) age 23 who spoke with a delightful Irish lilt, with full sentences and correct grammar.  I doubt that she has attended university but she spoke better than many Canadians and Americans who have higher education.  

This morning I sorted the tabs in a new web browser ‘Vivaldi’ and the incorrect Alphabetisation became particularly annoying as I reflected on Emma’s conversation.  I manually moved entries to their correct positions, as any self respecting ‘Grammar Nazi’ would do.  I can hear you thinking that our English culture is lost and I should ‘get on board’ with American English. Sadly, you may be right but ” a man’s reach should exceed his grasp”  (Robert Browning).

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Professional. Retired. Canadian.

2 replies

  1. Hi Geof,

    This whole spell checker (chequer?…just kidding) thing is just like anything else in life. If you want it done right (write:) then you have to do it yourself! So my advice is to trash the whole spell checker thing and the alphabetisation thing and just do it yourself! You could start a whole new “do it yourself” thing on the internet. I am just kidding of course.

    I am always betwixt and between paying attention to the “little things” which are really disguised as “big things” in life, or not paying attention to the “little things” in life and focusing on the “big picture”. I guess it is more akin to knowing when to pay attention to one or the other…much like the Serenity Prayer.

    In the meantime, thank you for standing on guard for our English language with all of the minutiae of good grammar, but remember to enjoy the writing and the reading of words as they line up and pull us into their story.

    Happy Valentine’s Day to you and Vera.

    Love, Dawn:)



    1. Hello Dawn
      Your comment is perceptive and elegant. Oh, I wish I could write like that!

      Incidentally, I loaned a book to our young guest, knowing that she would appreciate it. I explained that I could only lend it because it had been given to me by someone special. “The Watch That Ends The Night,” I said “is all you really need to know about this country. It’s a love story.”

      Geoff :):)


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