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Word Check - Australian Dictionary
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Friday, May 22, 2015

Is the spelling alot or a lot?

I read this rather interesting article today and the final line caught my attention.

http://www.businessinsider.com.au/why-the-editor-of-the-macquarie-dictionary-just-said-charity-fk-in-front-of-thousands-of-people-2015-5

"And finally, Butler would like you all to know that “a lot” – as in “I like you a lot” – is TWO words, not one."

Those of you who follow my work will know the dictionary files I create are prescriptive. Why? Simple. I simply want people to be able to easily find the single spelling most people consider correct. We are presented all the time with choices with spelling and I think it is simply easier to use the preferred Australian English spelling rather than a secondary variation.

Now here's the problem with the statement. If we are to accept usage is what determines should or shouldn't be included in the dictionary, then surely the word "alot" should now be included as a secondary variation for the words "a lot". Yes it is an error, but based on usage, around 20% of the population use the spelling "alot".

When referring to a dictionary make sure you read the important tips which let you know a little more about the entry. A word may be slang, colloquial, commonly used in speech, or a secondary variation. These clues are invaluable when using a dictionary.

Given that my work is about creating the best prescriptive spellcheck dictionary for Australians, I do however agree that the spelling is not "alot", at least at this point in time.

Kelvin Eldridge
www.Australian-Dictionary.com.au
The preferred Australian English spelling.

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