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I used to pride myself on my good spelling. Sure, my typed writing contained errors, but most were typos, the product of fingers which sometimes type entirely different words than the ones I intend to type.

Then came the confusion of living in multiple English-speaking countries, where correct spelling differs from place to place. At that point I still figured I was a competent speller, just a bit disoriented as to which correct spelling was appropriate in every case.

Now, the more I edit my dissertation, the less I think I can spell at all. Nearly all of my "crucifixion"s lack an x. All of my "commission"s lack the second s. I somehow never knew there was an "e" in "paraphernalia". Is it timetelling or time-telling? Reworking or re-working? Off the top of my head, I have no idea. Having established that I ought to put "medieval" and "early modern" in lower case letters, I've lost track of whether or not the "Middle Ages" require capitalization - especially if adjacent to an "early modern period".*

I may have misplaced my spelling competency, but at least I still care.

* I've settled most of these dilemmas through judicious use of the OED, the Chicago Manual of Style, and Google-polling.


( 14 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
Jan. 3rd, 2006 04:14 pm (UTC)
Jan. 3rd, 2006 03:48 pm (UTC)
Nearly all of my "crucifixion"s lack an x

Where do you put the nails?
Jan. 3rd, 2006 04:14 pm (UTC)
So that's why I kept wanting to put a "T" in the word!
Jan. 3rd, 2006 03:53 pm (UTC)
As I was taught, medieval and early modern do remain lowercase, while Middle Ages should be capitalized.
Jan. 3rd, 2006 04:13 pm (UTC)
How about "Renaissance"? Capitalized when a noun, lower-case when adjective? That's what looks right to me. I ask since you're so wonderfully decisive on the subject - I don't remember anyone ever telling me one way or the other which I should do until my advisor started reading my work.
Jan. 3rd, 2006 04:17 pm (UTC)
Hm, see, that's a difficult one - I tend to capitalize it in both cases! I think it's the disjunction between Middle Ages/Renaissance and medieval/Renaissance. In the case of the Middle Ages, their corresponding adjective is a different word, whereas for Renaissance, its adjective...isn't a different word. I don't even know if that's an actual rule or makes any sense, but that's how I always rationalized it in my own grammar code, and, so far, I haven't been penalized for it.
Jan. 3rd, 2006 04:37 pm (UTC)
The Chicago Manual of Style (with which I just finally checked) advises that "most period designations are lowercased except for proper nouns and adjectives". It doesn't specifically offer "renaissance" as an example, but it would be consistent with its other examples. I'll go with that.

As long as you're consistent, that's the important thing.
Jan. 3rd, 2006 04:04 pm (UTC)
at least your consistently wrong. people who cant make their minds up about thier wrongness get less sympathy :)
Jan. 3rd, 2006 05:27 pm (UTC)
I'm OK on "crucifixion" which is why I shouldn't have been surprised to find that the English prefer -- or preferred -- "connexion". But it was. (-0ddred)
Jan. 3rd, 2006 07:30 pm (UTC)
Now I'm confused -- crucifixion is spelled that way because it's rooted in crucifix, so it's always spelled that way, isn't it??
Jan. 3rd, 2006 07:44 pm (UTC)
Yes, it is always spelled that way. That's why my persistent mispelling "crucifiction" was wrong. But I can see why I kept thinking it could be crucifiction (even if really, when I think about it, I know better): I can't think of any other word with that ending sound which uses an "x" - jurisdiction, benediction, addiction, depiction etc. "ct" fits the sound wider pattern in English.
Jan. 4th, 2006 02:31 am (UTC)
Good -- I was worried I'd gone through and told you to fix things that were correct!
Jan. 4th, 2006 08:22 pm (UTC)
double entendre
Cruci - fiction? I like that!
( 14 comments — Leave a comment )