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Principled spelling

Letter from Dick Bulinski

Orthography – December 2003 – Colorado Central Magazine

Principled spelling


In the November issue, the Spellchecker let you down. I don’t know how you do this, but it needs to be told that:

princiPALS are either friendly people or money (too many people seem to think that money is your best friend);

PrinciPLEs are rules of behavior, conduct, etc.

Dick Bulinski


Dear Sir,

I’m wounded by the implication that I don’t use a dictionary. Actually, I keep a dictionary, an AP Style Book, and five English usage guides on my desk, and use them often. I also know — at least in principle — the difference between principal and principle; affect and effect; farther and further; flaunt and flout; gibe and jibe; imply and infer; and nauseous and nauseated … and still make too many mistakes. But I comfort myself by noticing that mistakes happen everywhere — and occasionally some even have a certain winsome impertinence.

Some recent favorites: a charity collecting old “coots” rather than coats; a bad “air” day; Bryant accused of “roping” teen; “old-fashioned loons” rather than looms; and “cowbody” instead of cowboy.

Martha Quillen