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December 17, 2007 / Amy Bradney-George

Language update – the irony

Just days after my last post about our “dieing language”, I stumbled across even more published mistakes. An Australian news website I occasionally visit had posted an article which used the word organization. While I don’t have anything against legitimate reasons for spelling it with a “z” (zed), there is no legitimate reason I can conceive of if the author is Australian and has grown up in Australia. Australia’s contemporary society was founded by Europeans, primarily from English-speaking countries (to begin with), and the English way to spell the word in question is with an “s”.

Whose to blame? The author? The editors? The education systum? At a loss on where to lie the blame (and questioning whether blame is the correct approach at this stage), I simply published a comment noting the mistake. And no word. I have previously noticed mistakes on the site and made comments, resulting in prompt changes. Rather than continue to post annoying comments on the site about how the “z” does not belong in an Australian article, I thought I would post an update on my language lamentations.

Some people might be wondering why I’m making such a big deal about a simple mistake like using a “z” instead of an “s”, but to be honest, it comes down to concern for the English language. Where does the buck stop? If people can make one mistake, and publish it for the whole world to see, then they can make more, and the whole idea of language is to use it correctly and/or selectively. The pen (or keyboard) is only mightier than the sword if there’s credibility in the words. Plus, if software companies, like Microsoft, are going to go to the trouble of having several English spell-check options (18 different English options in my version of Microsoft Word), we the writers could at least use them to show our appreciation.

Sure, everyone makes mistakes. In my last entry a friend noticed several mistakes which were unintended, and I made the appropriate changes. But to leave a mistake there? That just seems a bit slack.

This talk of language reminds me of an ad I saw once which read something like: “Wanted, a legal secretary. Must be friendly, reliable, apathetic.”

Sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it? Then again, who cares?*

*If anyone knows of businesses looking for more “apathetic” workers, I believe that demonstrates my apatheticism completely.

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