It is a wonderful privilege to have a cat. It is even more of a privilege to have a cat sit on your lap and that is how I increasingly spend my time these days. Underneath a pretty Persian cat. She insists on a cushion on my lap as well and not being the slightest bit spoiled, I tend to oblige. The minute the laptop is on, so is she, complete with cushion. Have you ever experienced that odd sensation of lying back on the couch, underneath a cat and a laptop table? It makes typing a whole new experience! Sadly it also makes for cold toes as you lie there with feet raised and obviously no shoes or slippers. From my position of cold toed privilege, I fell to musing about the odd phenomenon of English spelling…

Oh Sam Johnson! What have you done?

There was a time before the first English dictionary when spelling was fluid, rules had not been established and the various shades of accent and dialect guaranteed each word would have a multitude of alternatives. Then the first dictionary came along and standardized English was born. This held for a century or so and the sign of a well educated individual was the ability to spell correctly. As English speakers migrated to various colonies, new accents and new spellings were conceived and New Dictionaries were born to accommodate our glorious differences. We had UK English, US English and several others….

UK spelling australian english websters dictionary

It seems to me as a writer who can spell fairly well in standard UK English, that a huge amount of snobbery hinges around spelling punctuation and grammar. None of this would have applied but for that very first dictionary or its bastard children worldwide! Spelling is something I would never criticise (or criticize even) in the work of a US author yet we see it constantly from readers. “Great story, poor editing!” is often the cry. Worse than that, the people who simply won’t review because they think UK (or US) spelling is wrong!

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