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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 65.djvu/44

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POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

to adopt certain emended spellings, such as thru (through), tho (though), catalog (catalogue) and the like, but the majority of our periodicals show by their practise very meager approval of spelling-reform. No publisher, so far as known to the writer, has ventured as yet to use the emended spelling in a book issued by his firm. Yet all admit the need of spelling-reform and believe that, if adopted, it would save the coming generation a vast deal of humdrum work in acquiring an accurate knowledge of English orthography.

We Americans, however, with our characteristic spirit of independence have made bold to break away from British tradition and custom in the writing of certain English words and have introduced a few minor reforms in our spelling. But the English people have not followed our lead in this matter, being content to allow our adopted American spelling, together with our distinctive pronunciation, serve as an earmark to distinguish American from British English. It is the practise of some reputable British journals to disparage our spelling, wherever it makes a departure from English traditions, and to refer to it by way of reproach as 'American spelling.' Some few years ago the St. James Gazette, intending to express its disapproval of our spelling, deprecatingly remarked that "already newspapers in London are habitually using the ugliest forms of American spelling and those silly eccentricities do not make the slightest difference in their circulation." Viewed in the light of subsequent events, perhaps this ought to be considered the forerunner of 'the American invasion.'

As every one knows who has visited the mother country, there is a perceptible difference not only in the spelling, but also in the pronunciation, between American English and British English. Of course the language is the same in America as in England; and yet there are some appreciable minor points of difference. For example, the Englishman gives the broad sound to the vowel a as in father, when it is followed by such a combination of consonants as in the words ask, fast, dance, can't, answer, after and the like. In America, on the other hand, while this pronunciation is heard in some circles, it is clearly not the ordinary pronunciation and is not general, as in England. There is also a noticeable difference in the pronunciation of long o, the Englishman giving the vowel a distinctive utterance quite unlike that ordinarily heard in America. The pronunciation of the word been is a shibboleth by which a man of British nationality may be almost unfailingly distinguished. The native Englishman pronounces the word so as to rhyme with seen, never bin. In addition to these points of pronunciation there are certain locutions which never fail to betray an Englishman. The English call an elevator a lift, overshoes galoshes, napkins serviettes, candy sweets. In England a baby-carriage is called a perambulator, which is generally abridged 'pram' merely; a lamp-post is known as lamp-pillar and a letter-box