email - August 2020

Time and Spelling

It’s a World-wide Web

Jeffrey made this comment about our last newsletter.

“Civilisations” is the British spelling. A real, patriotic American would use the spelling “civilizations.” On my honour.

Excellence again. Thank you.

The smiley face (and the fact that he used the British spelling of honor) indicates that he is kidding—but it is something we take seriously. Forms of the word "civilize" appeared eight times in our last newsletter. The three times we quoted a British source, we kept the British spelling. The other five times we used the American spelling when making comments about the article.

We are no longer the little group that met in a library in the Mojave Desert on the fourth Friday of every month 25 years ago. We evolved into an organization that has published over 700 articles on our Internet website. We get email from all over the world, including readers whose first language is not English.

We keep that international audience in mind. We try not to use uniquely American expressions, and try to avoid obscure words which non-native speakers might not understand. When we do have to use those words, we try to define them in a way that doesn’t appear to be condescending. We realize that when we use simplified explanations, haters might claim that we don’t understand all the technical implications of the term—but we are willing to take that chance to make it easier for readers who aren’t as familiar with English as their native tongues.

We apologize to those readers who like to see forty thousand written as 40.000 rather than 40,000. The American Museum of Natural History used a comma, and we did, too.

In this issue, our Australian readers are probably more familiar than our American readers are with the platypus, and not as familiar with opossums (commonly referred to as possums).

The newsletter, which appears on "the third Tuesday" is actually posted publicly about 6 AM Pacific time on Monday because it is already Tuesday in New Zealand and Australia (where we have some readers).

We try to be as foreign friendly as possible.

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