Sunday, 3 August 2008

Not only do I have to mind my Ps & Qs

but now I have to watch my Ls & Us

It's not what you write it's the way that you spell it and so begins this post.
I had an email from a lovely reader who politely pointed out that some of my spelling was a bit odd and perhaps I should use a spell checker.

Mmmm, anything's possible.

Detail is not my strongest point unless I happen to be applying eyeliner.

It's also well known that the older we get the worse our spelling becomes because we just do not see the error of our ways..... BUT.... I was a five year old who could spell h-i-p-p-o-p-o-t-a-m-u-s for goodness sakes, how could I have lost my way?

Yet, on the other hand, I have to admit that I have always struggled with words like separate, gauge, occasion, definite, and Honorificabilitudinitatibus ( I just threw that last one in so you, too, could learn a new word).

So I am pleased that the concerned reader happened to give me a sample of my errors.

Let's see (my spelling is in red, the corrections in blue)

colour, color, favourite favorite center centre judgment judgement check cheque license licence jewelry jewellery pajamas pyjamas traveling travelling fulfil fulfill fulfilling fulfiling fulfilment fulfillment

Well, it’s obvious isn’t it? I am using the British English spelling system and my reader is using the American English system.

So, I checked with my trustworthy fountain of knowledge. My Mother. Yes, she is the woman who used to correct my letters to her and mark them out of 10 (it is fortunate that she doesn’t know the address of this blog because I'm not so sure she would approve of what I do to the English language....and I would be forced to delete her many comments).
The Literary Oracle (yes, I guess she has an odd name) told me that the English language has never been standardised. She said that the differences only became noticeable when dictionaries were published. Many of the American English spellings were introduced by Noah Webster (Webster's dictionary). The English followed Samuel Johnson. Australians follow the British spelling system because we are part of the British Commonwealth. Hence the differences.

So we sometimes have two 'l's' in English and one in American... But, other times, we have one in English and two in American. Got it? Easy isn't it…! All of which goes to show what a pointless exercise it's becoming to try and get it 'right'!

However, I guess because of the amount of American-produced software, incorporating American English spell-checkers, it is becoming almost the norm to spell in American English. Microsoft has played no small part in this. Their software, even when sold in the UK, features spell-checkers which seem to have a habit of reverting their default to American even when set to what they call “English (UK)".

So to avoid further upsetting my readers’ spelling sensitivities, I am considering writing my posts in Aussie slang. This language will never be found in the English and American dictionaries (well outside of Oz anyway).
So, here is my tongue in cheek reply to the gorgeous reader who alerted me to this spelling conundrum. And of course for full effect you must read this in your best Steve Irwin voice. And to my very sophisticated mother, if you do ever come across my blog, it's at this point you should shut your eyes and save yourself the 'cultural cringe.....' because you won't be happy.
G’day Mate

What a bonza bloke you are for pointing out my bodgy spelling! No need to spit the dummy though. Not worth a blue hey? Strewth, I just got your email this arvo and being a bit of a dill, I was kind of stumped as to what you were getting at. I rang my mum on the blower in Brizzie to get the good oil.

“Listen luv, you’re such a dag”, she said, “you’re an ace speller ok? Fair dinkum, everyone knows the drill right? I will say two words to you Lilly, Webster and Johnson. There’s your answer. We Ozzies follow the Queen’s English because we are still hanging on to the royal coat tails. And it’s the way of the world that everyone wants to stamp their own take on anything that moves, so of course the English language is a target. It’s getting to the point that no-one can tell what’s right or wrong. Plus, there’s a whole list of words used by the Pommies that are never used by the Yanks and vice verse. Then, there’s a whole lot more words which are the same but have deadset different meanings in different countries. Throw in different accents, pronunciations, slang and stutters and it’s a good thing we can communicate at all."

I reckon you need to chill out, pour yourself a cab sav or grab a cold one and RELAX!! Go on, give it a burl, too many of us are flat out like lizards drinking to get too hung up on stuff we can’t change.


Lilly (oh and by the way that’s Lilly with two ls not one l)
Yes, I am sure you will agree, deviations in spelling are far more palatable than Aussie slang.....

What is your take on the American/British spelling systems or what misspelt words drive you crazy?


  1. Your so funny. Great Blog! I have a question for you: Isn’t it a sad note that someone has so little to do- that they actually take the time to write you about spelling errors?

    One of the wonderful things about blogging is that you’re able to speak to people from all over the world. Of course there will be different interpretations of the word spellings and misspellings, but there’s a bigger picture that’s missed here. To be able to get know people from different countries, societies and cultures is a vast education in itself.

    Your reader needs to think about her ‘social etiquette skills’ in blog comments.

  2. I laughed my way through your post. I, being one of the Yanks, had no idea there was a difference, other than accent, in the two languages. I suppose I will have to watch what I'm doing.

    I love the Aussie Slang! That was great, I almost heard you talking, LOL. I couldn't put Steve's voice in place of your, but used his daughters for my imaginations sake.

    Hopefully I don't make too many "social etiquette" mistakes.

  3. Redchair - this one kind of tickled my fancy and I had a bit of fun writing it. And did you notice we wrote about our mothers on the same day. My mother is my fountain of knowledge it is true. Anyway, I think the emailer was trying to be nice by pointing out something I may have been missing. Some people have time on their hands but he gave me an idea for a post because it made me think that maybe people really do not know about these things. I knew there was a difference but not the reasons why. When I lived in the UK there seemed to be millions of different accents all speaking English yet I couldnt understand a word. I think we need to do You Tube vidoes posts - because I think we would all have a laugh at our different accents! Maybe that could be a good blogging project too!! Accents are wonderful. And, while I have been known to say the odd Fair Dinkum and G'day (and you do not realise you say these things until you are overseas and people laugh)there are not many Aussies who speak like Steve Irwin did. Yes, it is indeed about the bigger picture and realising we are all different but at the same time so very much the same. The world is indeed a small one. And that is a great thing.

  4. Hey Eric, well now you know in case you think your Aussie, English and sometimes Canadian readers can't spell. As for slang, well we do still use some expressions it's true but not many Aussies really sound like Steve Irwin did or Paul Hogan for that matter. Although Steve was exactly like that 24/7. No, you can't go wrong as long as you just keep writing it in the English you know. Understanding the differences is all that's needed. Language is wonderful isn't it? I suggested to Vikki from Redchair that it would be great if we all did a video post - we would be very surprised at how we all spoke I think. You just cannot tell with the written word can you? Thanks for dropping by. I appreciate it.

  5. Bauty Newk! You my dear have a wicked sense of humor or humour whatever is the case. Too funny, made me laugh. Aussie slang, oh dear, even I am suffering from cultural cringe. To spell or not to spell that is the question.

  6. You are too funny! I did wonder about the different spellings before also. Fortunately, a few years back when I was seriously contemplating about writing, hubby bought me some writing books and that was where I got educated about the difference between the British English and the American English. So when I saw how you spelled some of your words, I knew exactly that you, in Australia, must be using the British English.

    I read in the book also that the reason of the different spellings is because when the Americans came out with their own dictionary, they had taken the most direct and most concise route to spell words as they are pronounced. So like in the case of colour, the Ameicans removed the "u" since it doesn't affect the phonetic or the pronunciation of the word.

    Anyway, I found this so hilarious. You always have this knack of wtiting "humourous" posts out of ordinary events. I just love your Aussie slang. My brain could read and pronounce the Aussie slang properly. But for some reason when I tried to vocalize it the way my brain was saying it, my tongue can't seem to get it right. Lol.

    Your suggestion of a U-TUBE post would be so much fun, especially when you hear me with my funny heavy Filipino accent. LOL. You might not be able to understand me. It's funny though because when I sing, all that accent goes away. Hehe.

  7. Tasha - thank you now I know even more about the differences. Your husband did well buying you that book - tell him thanks from me. Yes I think eventually everyone will move to the simpler way hopefully. Err yes I seem to see humour/humor in the simplest things - whether thats a good thing or not remains to be seen. But, I do like writing in that style. Hey do you think we should organise to do a meme where we have to introduce ourselves on our blog through video. That would be so cool would it not - I could do my Aussie slang in person. Tasha I bet you do not have a thick accent at all - it seems like it to you but if you went back to your birthplace they would probably say you had a thick American accent. Thanks for commenting. I ALWAYS love your value add truly. And I should add a postscript with what you said aobut making the spellings simpler.

  8. If I were the reader that dared to comment on your spelling, I would turn into an ostrich and stick my head far underground after this post!
    Thank God I'm not!
    I must admit I still have to take wild guesses as to what some words mean: bonza, arvo, as well as some expressions as being a bit of a dill, spit the dummy or worth a blue, but found the post funny nonetheless, I tried to hear Steve Irwin reading it to me..
    I suppose blower means phone and Pommie would be Brit. Please shed some light on the above, though. I am very curious as to what the words/phrases mean. As for the ending of your post, what a funny-witty-smart-you-go-girl punch line.
    And yeah. I'm in fav of the British spelling by far. Besides, that's the true and first English that can set the standard on all of the other ones, right?

  9. I once wrote a presentation for my company dealing with disney. I titled it the "Secret Life of Pooh". In a rush, I relied on spell checker to handle my many misspellings and typos. I ended up giving a presentation entitled "Secrete Life of Poo".

  10. @ Sarah - remember The Castle film? Thats our life...

    @ Rocksnowhite - well done, you got most of this right! bonza means great, arvo means afternoon, being a bit of a dill means being a bit silly or stupid, spit the dummy means lose your cool or get upset and worth a blue means argue or have a fight. Thanks for dropping by - appreciate your comments. How is your writing going?

    @ Cup is half full - oh that made me laugh then of course I know it was something I would do as well! Presentations - oh do I have some embarassing moments, some of which I have talked about on my blog. I would like to know how you managed, I would have said, Poo is the french derivative (sp?) for Pooh. Thanks for stopping by.

  11. Hey Lilly,

    That was a riot. I noticed the different spelling but since my sis has been in Europe for the past 30 or so years, I am used to seeing the different spelling.

    I can't spell anything these days and am too lazy to use spell checker. When I am blog surfing I often run across sites that are devoted to complaining about grammar and spelling.

    I want to post "Get a life!"
    I think it's wonderful to be proficient in ones native language. Four thoze ov us hoo ar knot; thay knead two giv ua a brake! "

  12. As usual, you made me laff. However I have an Aussie spy in the company - Emily - who looks not unlike yourself, apart from the bloo face.

    Well Emily tells me that you must be sort of posh, as you rite "my" mum, insted of "me mum" as she woz brought up to right. She also said that no "Westie" wood 'stamp their own take' but 'would piss all over it'
    (she's very...earthy is our Emily)

    And now onto the section that I'm sure your panting (pref' gold lycra) for....

    The Kylie Report

    It was reported in last week's Daily Mail that our heroine had been seen, knocking back the Fosters in a West London Pub.

    My spies tell me that the landlord has now put up a sign, charging his locals £5. per go, to sit on the seat the singing budgie perched on, during her well publicised visit. It is further reported that the seat remains permanently hot - which is strange, because no one has taken up the offer as yet.



    ps: I must be the only person in the world however who spells, "Waggon" with 2 G's

  13. Dear Lilly,
    You have a delightful blog and this is a funny post!
    I'm all for different spellings...variety makes life so much more interesting.
    Remind me to tell you sometime about my own spelling of "judgment" as "judgement" in the headline of an editorial I wrote when I was editor of the Portland Community College Newspaper - I thought I'd never hear the end of it!
    Thanks for visiting my blog and for always being such a great supporter of mine.
    Just to let you know that if you send me your address in Australia I would love to send you a couple of duplicate Pilates DVD's that I have on hand. My gift to you. (I was just going to put them in my garage sale.)
    Just email me at
    Love you,

  14. You are so funny.Incredibly funny.

  15. How in hell did I miss this one??!!!

    This is one of THE best posts I've ever read. Oh Lilly Lilly Lilly, You are my hero. You are absolutely FAN-BLOODY-TASTIC!!! I am speechless.

    #1. I agree with REDCHAIR..."who has so little to do that they actually take time to write you about spelling errors?" All that you offer us….and the poor soul has missed the whole boat.

    #2. I knew the moment I read the title what was coming and I GRINNED. Crickys mate, any wanker knows that bloody Aussies and Yanks have two different spellings. I also noticed a lot of French words in Oz. Having lived in France I enjoyed that.

    #3. I have never been one to give a rat's aspirator how anyone spells. I could care less. I LOVE diversity and uniqueness. Also spelling is not even on my list in terms of "seeing" someone. I could meet someone who can't even read or write and in every case I would find something AMAZING about them, something they knew and I didn't, an area where they were wise and understood things that I did not. I love that about life. If we look in others for only the things that we know, then we will miss MUCH.

    #4 I am SOOOOOOOOO proud of you for the way you kept your cool. You matched the incoming energy "force for force". That doesn't mean one has to be nasty in return, but it does mean being strong and not letting someone walk all over us. You handled this like the truly classy and brilliant woman you are.

    #5. I think it must take a certain low level intelligence to NOT see, upon one reading of your site, that you are a VERY VERY VERY VERY (LOL) smart, kickass, charismatic, dynamic gal. I've never met anyone like you; that's for sure. I probably never will....but I know this: if I come to OZ with my book, if it is at all possible we will have to "do lunch". To NOT do that would be a once in a lifetime opportunity missed. LOL And this is one bloody show I ain't missing, mate.

    #6. I think while I am there I also better meet your "Mum". Now, I know where you get IT from. She is one dynamo!

    #7 You made my whole day girl. God love you; the angels must be watching over you; that's for sure. Youse one of the special ones….and youse me mate, eh?!!!

    Hugs and love,
    : )

    PS Please forgive any spelling errors. The author will not be responsible for misspelled words, typos, offensive language, for being ALIVE!!!! Oh crap! LOL

  16. lol Lilly..
    this would have to be one of the funniest emails I've read....
    you have such a great sense of humoUr!!


Thanks for your comments.