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Monday, April 29, 2013

Victor Harbor is spelt using the American spelling.

Where does a person interested in the preferred Australian English spelling go for a short break? A place in Australia that uses American spelling. Yes. I thought I'd drop into Victor Harbor and see what I could uncover about the strange spelling for an Australian location.

What I did find didn't really give me a definitive answer, but it did show people using the different spellings of 'Harbor' over a period of time from around 1890 through to 1940/50. More recently however it does feel the spelling has settled and standardised on the American spelling.

I visited the Victor Harbor Information Centre and asked the question about the spelling. They've obviously been asked the question many times before as they had an information page titled "Why is Victor Harbor spelt without the 'U'?"

According to the information page "All six (6) Harbors in South Australia are spelt without a 'u'." The harbours listed were: Outer Harbor, Franklin Harbor, Rosetta Harbor, Victor Harbor, Blanche Harbor and Yatala Habor.

The reason given for the spelling being, "It can be surmised from the above spelling of all South Australian Harbour's with the 'u' that it originated probably from a spelling error made by an early Surveyor General of South Australia." (Note the use of the possessive apostrophe is from the information page.)

Personally I'm not convinced that it was necessarily a spelling error. It is hard to guess why something was done in the past using our current frame of reference. The township name was gazetted in 1914 as the 'Municipal Town of Victor Harbor'. Once gazetted that would tend to become the norm for government use. Spelling error perhaps, or could it be spelling preference? Who really knows!

I also decided to check the six listed harbours and found interestingly using Google maps that some appeared to be spelt with 'our' but that it was easy to be confused. If checking the spelling it is best to use the South Australian State Gazetteer using the PlaceNames Online tool. All of the above spellings were confirmed using the Gazetteer. Also interesting is you'll find inconsistent spelling such as the 'Outer Harbour Post Office' where the spelling for the Post Office differs from the spelling for the location.

One of the features of Victor Harbor is Granite Rock which is a lovely walk across a walkway over the water. A plaque on the rocks dated 1924 had the spelling 'Victor Harbour'. I'm sure the spelling caused no end of discussion for locals of the time.

In the end perhaps we just need to consider the spelling of place names have a history and accept the spelling as correct, even if it does vary from the usual convention.

Kelvin Eldridge
Online Connections
Call 0415 910 703 for computer support.
Servicing Templestowe, Doncaster, Eltham and the surrounding area.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Is it jewelry, jewellery or jewelery?

A while ago I was in Delphi (Greece) and walked outside the hotel and across the road was a big sign on the shop 'Jewelry'. Weird I thought.

The American spelling is 'jewelry' and the Australian spelling (which appears to be the same for the UK) is 'jewellery'.

The spelling 'jewelery' is referenced in Wiktionary as being a legitimate spelling in Britain along with 'jewellery'. So far I've not found an authoritative reference to confirm the spelling 'jewelery' to be a correct spelling in the UK, America or Australia.

Kelvin Eldridge
Online Connections

Friday, April 19, 2013

British English, American English and Australian English site now live.

Recently a number of overseas people have used a copy of my dictionary work and in particular one person was using my Australian English Exclude file for editing British English documents. In order to edit the document they would set the spelling to Australian English, use my Exclude file which would then provide the preferred British English spelling. I'm thankful to this person for letting me how they were using my work as I then built a British English copy of the Exclude file to assist them. It is feedback like this which helps me determine what people need and what could be useful. Whilst creating the copy of the British English Exclude file is done at a loss, it is hoped in time that it will generate enough revenue to pay for itself.

That got me thinking that over the years I have built a number of online services and created a number of word lists. Some of the word lists are open source so I could provide those word list files for a small distribution fee and that would help those wanting a British, American, or Australian English word list files. I could also provide the online tool Word Check for each of the languages. Any feedback from users could then be used to improve the word lists which to me is how open source can work.

To get the ball rolling I've now created the site as an umbrella site with links to a range of dictionary resources I've created. Word Check is now available for Australian, British and American English. Word Check is password protected with the password being provided to anyone contributing either by purchasing a dictionary file or providing a link to either of the dictionary sites or

My commercial work will still continue as it currently is. The open source material will evolve based on the feedback of others.

There is still quite a bit to be done with the site, but I felt it is best to launch the site so that others can take advantage of the material rather than wait until everything is done (where really nothing is ever fully done).


Kelvin Eldridge
Online Connections
Call 0415 910 703 for computer support.
Servicing Templestowe, Doncaster, Eltham and the surrounding area.

British English Word Check Hints and Tips

This blog entry aims to provide a collection of hints and tips for using the British English version Word Check. British English Word Check is an online service which enables you to check the spelling of a word and if you haven't entered the correct spelling, a list of suggested words will be presented.

Please feel free to suggest words, or to challenge existing words (in a nice way of course). The input you provide will help evolve the British English dictionary word list. The British English word list is open source licensed as LGPL and is available for a small distribution fee.

  • Word Check requires a password. This is available to clients of Online Connections and anyone purchasing a dictionary product.
  • Word Check in many instances is more accurate than a spellchecker as it allows you to check against the list of actual words, which can include spaces, hyphens, periods and apostrophes.
  • Word Check doesn't allow you to create words using prefixes and suffixes which may not be actual usage. For example typing non-non as a word is often valid when using a spellchecker.
  • Word Check is case sensitive. Enter the word as you would write it. For example type in England and not england. If you type in england without the first letter being capitalised, the result will be Not Found.
  • If you wish to look up the meaning of a word don't use plurals or possessives. Use the base word. Also generally use lower case unless the word requires the first letter or all letters as upper case otherwise the word's definition won't be found.
  • In general enter words in lower case and with the letters correctly capitalised. For example enter London and not london. Entering london will result in the message Not Found but a list of suggestions will be provided.
  • If you enter a word in all capitals, as would be used in a heading, the word will be compared with the words in the dictionary converted to capitals. You should avoid entering words in capitals so you can determine the correct capitalisation. You shouldn't assume that if you now use the word which was in capitals in lower case it will be correct. For example LONDON will be found, but london will not be found.
  • There is quite a bit of confusion as to whether some words should be a single word, a hyphenated word, or contain a space between two or more words. Word Check aims to provide the correct variation. Try all three variations to determine the correct spelling. For example "ice cream" is the preferred spelling, but to determine which is the preferred spelling, you may wish to try "icecream" and "ice-cream". Keep in mind there are standard phrases which use hyphens, but when writing you can hyphenate words are required which wouldn't be in the word list. For words you hyphenate through your own choice you may need to check the spelling of the words individually.
  • You may wish to check the meaning of a word and not just the spelling of a word. Many words which are very similar, only differ by one letter, yet can mean very different things, such as meter and metre, or confirmation and conformation.
  • Word Check aims to provide the correct spelling variations for a word, including possessives and plurals. These are not readily available in other dictionaries and can often be the hardest to determine as being correct. For example Word Check includes: dog, dogs and dog's.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Today I was asked if the recent updates I've made to the Australian dictionary files are suitable for Firefox/Thunderbird.

Today I sent an email to the user of my Australian dictionary files. One person asked the following question.

"I use Mozilla Firefox as my browser & Thunderbird for email.  Are the upgrades you've done compatible/suitable for use with these programmes?"

So that others know here is my response.

"Sadly I decided some time ago (about 3-4 years) to stop supporting and promoting open source. After Firefox/Thunderbird incorporated my open source work and then Google did the same in their Chrome browser and both gave nothing back, it really didn’t seem to make much sense. Now I focus on commercial products. To me the irony is all the projects needed to do was to link to my work and everyone would have gained. Instead my work became hidden in the larger projects and nothing came back as a result. I trust you’ll understand."

My focus is now on providing my work to people who use Microsoft software and those who wish to use my online Word Check tool. My dictionary files now cover Microsoft Office on both Windows computers and Mac computers and also Internet Explorer 10. I am always interested in reviewing other programs but it has to be a fair and reasonable and two way.

Kelvin Eldridge
Online Connections

Thursday, April 11, 2013

British and American terms for the British Oxford dictionary site.

I found the page below today on the British Oxford dictionary site which I thought was quite interesting. It is a list of British and equivalent American terms. What I find interesting are the American terms I now use instead of the British, such as eggplant. I wouldn’t even know what a aubergine is. I wonder how many Australians would know what to get if you asked them to pick up an aubergine at the supermarket. Yet on the other hand I’ve never given in to saying aluminum, even though my science teacher in high school used the word all the time.

There are also many cases in which the two varieties of English use different terms to describe the same thing. Here’s a list of various British words and expressions together with their American equivalents.... Read More

One time when I was providing computer support to a young client I remarked, “haven’t you noticed your computer is set to American English”. She asked, “why?” “The spelling is color and not colour”, I remarked. She said, “that is how I spell the word”. I asked, “how come?” She said, “I just do, why?” I said, “I find that strange as it is the American spelling”. She said, “my teacher in secondary school was American, which probably explains why I spell it that way”. Whilst I would never use spelling color, I heard recently the use of color as a spelling is more prevalent in Victoria than other states. I wonder why that would be?

One word which stood out is the British use ‘boiler suit’, the Americans use ‘coveralls’, whereas I would use ‘overalls’. As for ‘bumbag’ the American expression is just not appropriate here. Somehow I don’t think ‘I’m a diamante cowboy’ wouldn’t have been quite as popular as ‘I’m a rhinestone cowboy’. I had no idea the terms were synonymous. Don’t even think about asking an American to meet you on the ‘first floor’ as you’ll end up on different floors. The list certainly makes for a few chuckles.

How many words on the list have become standard use for you?

Kelvin Eldridge
Call 0415 910 703 for help with your computer problem.
Servicing Templestowe, Doncaster, Eltham and the surrounding area.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Is it web site, website or Web site?

The Australian English language is an interesting creature which continues to evolve and change over time. The word I'd like to consider today is 'web site', 'website' or 'Web site'.

According to The Australian Oxford Dictionary Sixth Edition, the primary spelling is 'web site' as two words. The single word spelling 'website' is considered a secondary spelling. If you check the Macquarie Dictionary Fifth Edition the preferred spelling is 'website' as a single word and 'web site' as two words is a secondary spelling variation. When the authoritative references don't agree it can be hard to determine the preferred spelling in Australia, but this does happen more than one might expect.

Many editors refer the 'Style Manual: For Authors, Editors and Printers, 6th Edition' which is an Australian Government publication and what we find is the following in the section relating to computer and internet terms. We find the sentence 'For example, lower case appears to be the predominant usage for web site, which is also often seen as one word.' The only problem with the Style Manual is the sixth edition was published in 2002 (reprinted with corrections in 2003, reprinted in 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2010) and whilst the language can change slowly in some areas, some areas change much more quickly.

Using these three resources the weighting would appear to favour 'web site' as two words and that is currently what I use in my dictionary work. The two word variation 'Web site' with the capitalised first letter is not mentioned in the above references. As can be seen by the sentence in the Style Manual the lower case usage has become predominant, so at least we can rule out 'Web site' as the preferred Australia English spelling. However, 'web site' and 'website' need examined further.

Based on various searches of the internet for Australian sites, using different search engines, using a variety of filters, in all cases the predominant usage is 'website'.

I find one of the hardest things we can do with our own use of the language is to change the spelling of a word when we've used the one spelling for so long. In this case my earlier research indicated 'web site' to be the preferred spelling, but now a few years later this isn't the case. For me I have to bite the bullet and adjust my site according. The online service Word Check will be updated today and the dictionary files for Microsoft Office and Internet Explorer will be updated and released as time permits.

Kelvin Eldridge
Online Connections
Call 0415 910 703 for computer support.
Servicing Templestowe, Doncaster, Eltham and the surrounding area.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Word Check and links to the meaning of words.

This week I received feedback from a person on Word Check. Word Check is designed to provide people with the ability to check if they are using the preferred Australian English spelling. The database contains nearly 60,000 words I've collected and researched.

However, whilst knowing the correct and preferred spelling is good, sometimes having the ability to check if you are using the correct word by looking up the meaning and seeing examples, assists people further. For that reason I provide the ability to check the meaning of words using a third party site. I checked quite a few sites before settling on the site I currently use. Unfortunately it is not perfect. I can't influence the information the site provides and sometimes the site provides unexpected results. However given there isn't another suitable site it is a compromise I'm willing to take as long as people are aware. When clicking on a word to check the meaning please keep in mind you are leaving my site, and whilst the third party site is very good, ultimately you should be aware it is not under my control.

To me it is better to have first checked the spelling of a word and if you are using the preferred Australian English spelling first using Word Check, than to go direct to any other existing dictionary site on the internet. No other site I've found will provide the preferred Australian English spelling and often people aren't aware the site they are using contains American spelling, British spelling, or even deliberate misspellings which whilst designed to direct people to the correct spelling, may not be totally clear that is their intent.

When using the link in Word Check to check the meaning of the word, please keep in mind the link takes you to a third party site outside of my control. This is a compromise, but I believe it assists people by providing the links. Should I get sufficient feedback that the links to the meaning of words is causing people issues, I'm more than happy to review the use of the links.

Thank you for the feedback Jodie.

Kelvin Eldridge
Online Connections
Call 0415 910 703 for computer support.
Servicing Templestowe, Doncaster, Eltham and the surrounding area.