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Cousins' Communication

Rosie Right

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It looks as if the reverse of globalism has struck Harry Potter. An article in the New York Times by Peter Gleick complains that Scholastic publishers, which published this fourth in the series, translated many of the English words to "American." Jumper became sweater, crumpets became English muffins, a lorry became a truck. Mr. Gleick's beef was that our children do not need to have publishers patronize them and assume that they cannot follow a narrative if an unfamiliar word pops up.

The differences between English and American usages are often subtle, as in the spelling of the word judgment. Our dictionaries prescribe judgment; the English dictionaries (such as The New Oxford Dictionary of English) spell the word judgement. An extra u often pops up in British publications: labour ("Love's Labour's Lost").

And there is the s vs. the z problem. As Michael Quinion points out in his online usage notes: When you are writing civilize you may spell it civilize or civilise, depending on whether you learned to spell in England or the U.S. There are, however, many words that are always spelled with an s—witness advertise, advise, apprise.

When Rosie remarked on these differences to a friend, he laughed and told her that in his town of Charlottesville many of the people who consider themselves chic introduce English terms into their conversation: He pointed to flat for apartment and brolly for umbrella. This, of course, is globalism in the usual sense.



More New Language:

Angela Lehman-Rios has sent Rosie a clipping from the magazine Advisor. The title says it all: "The E-ing of Insurance." Lehman-Rios asks Is E really a verb now? Merriam Webster tells Rosie that they do not have that in their list of words today. Still, often dictionaries are designed to catch up with usage, and in this case, it may be that e meaning related to electronic commerce will be respectable soon.

This is true because cyberspace is, like it or not, with us today. The newsletter Copy Editor tells us that Dot-com was in the American Dialect Society's annual selection of words Most Likely to Succeed and Most Useful. The Oxford University Press includes it -also hyphenated—in a list of words it is considering adding to the Oxford English Dictionary.

Let Rosie hear from you by telephone (358-0825), letter (1118 W. Main St., Richmond, Va. 23220), fax (355-9089) or e-mail rmail@richmond.infi.net

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