I was looking up whether we’re supposed to call the organization running rampant in Iraq by the name IS(IL/IS) or DAESH. The latter is a derogatory term from the region, and France and Australia have chosen to use it over IS/ISIL/ISIS on the basis that DAESH doesn’t get to “represent Islam.” I prefer Daesh for a couple of reasons. First, because it gives us a demonym (Daeshians). But mostly because they hate it and that works for me.

Anyway, this Guardian article reminded me of what I like about British English. I am not a fan of the superfluous ‘u’s, but there are a couple of things I really do like. For example, they drop the period on initials like Mr and Sr. You’ll notice that I tend to do the same, because I think periods should generally go at the end of a sentence. So I’ve adopted that, when I can. I also think some of their uses of “s” over “z” are better, and they don’t eliminate the “e” on judgment, which would be preferable (though not so much that I bother flouting our convention. Also, we switch “re” to “er” when their spelling is cooler (spectre is cooler than specter, and theatre to theater). Also, we eliminate duplicate “l” when we shouldn’t, like traveler vs traveller, or cancel vs cancelled.

Pertaining to the opening paragraph of this post, if an acronym is pronounced, they don’t use all-caps like we do. So the FBI is the FBI, but NASA is Nasa. I think this is better. Not the least of which because of the demonym thing for Daesh (Daeshians works better for me than DAESHians), but mostly it provides a cue as to whether it’s supposed to be pronounced or spelled out. The downside is that you don’t necessarily know when something is an acronym. But how much does etymology matter? And it’s something that can be clarified. I will honor our convention when it comes to Nasa, but not Daesh.


Category: Coffeehouse

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5 Responses to The Sometimes Superiority of English English

  1. Chris says:

    “Daeshbag,” a common epithet among English-speaking Kurds and Arabs, makes it my preferred name for them.

    • trumwill says:

      Related: Oddly enough, while there is a lot I like about British culture, I’ve never been turned on (physically or platonicly) by the British accent. I do like the Australian and Irish ones, though. I don’t know why.

  2. kenB says:

    “spectre is cooler than specter”

    Interesting, it wouldn’t occur to me to have aesthetic preferences for certain spellings over others — I’m more of a function-over-form guy. I suppose one could make an argument for using final -re within a stem to distinguish it from the -er suffix (lest someone think that a “theater” is “someone who theates”).

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