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Friday, December 19, 2014

Small variations in spelling can significantly impact how a reader may perceive your writing.

I get alerts sent to me covering a range of topics. One alert contained a link to this article on the spelling of definitely. Overall it is a good article and worth a read. However when I started to read the article I immediately thought it was perhaps a republication of an article published in America.

Now you may ask why I would think that?

The answer is there are a couple of clues that I frequently see in writing by American journalists. The spelling spell-check and misspelled. Both of these spellings are typically American. In Australia the preferred spellings are spellcheck and misspelt.

Once I see an article I think is American I usually discard it, or at least treat it with a lower degree of confidence. There are large number of differences, and if someone hasn't taken the time to edit the article for an Australian audience, I think it can do more harm than good. The repeated use of American spelling makes it harder to remember the correct or preferred Australian English spelling.

Much to my surprise the author of this article is an Australian. They have however spent some time in Greece. I remember when I was in Greece I walked out of the hotel in Delphi to see the spelling Jewelry, which is the American spelling and incorrect in Australia. So perhaps there's more of a bias towards the American spelling in Greece. I don't know, but it does seem to be a strange coincidence.

If you are writing articles make sure you target the spelling to the preferred spelling of the audience. Don't let the spelling get in the way of the information you wish to share.

Kelvin Eldridge
The preferred Australian English spelling.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

South Australian spelling test search uncovers something unexpected

Today I thought I'd check out the South Australian spelling test by searching Google. What I found however wasn't good. I found the following document on a Northern Territory government site. The document was written in 2007.

I opened the document and started to read the first paragraph. I didn't even reach the end of the first sentence and there it was. The dreaded apostrophe error. The use of an apostrophe to indicate a possessive when no apostrophe was required since it is simply a plural.

As I scrolled I noticed another common error. The abbreviated form of example written as Eg instead of E.g. At that point I simply stopped reading. There are eight teachers who have put their name on this document and yet not one picked up the error in the first sentence.

Sometimes I wonder what chance do our children have when those who are teaching them aren't as thorough as they could be.

I personally struggle with the use of apostrophes and one reason is I see incorrect usage every day. The incorrect usage makes it much harder to work out which is correct and which is incorrect. Perhaps it's time to try to reduce the incorrect use of apostrophes.

Kelvin Eldridge

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Google Chrome and the Opera browser can now use the preferred Australian English spelling on Apple Mac OS X computers.

For some time I've provided an Australian Dictionary for Apple's OS X users on the page Unlike the Australian dictionary included with Apple's OS X, the dictionary I've created only includes the preferred spelling and not the many secondary spelling variations. The preferred spelling is the spelling most people consider to be correct for a word, whereas the majority of people would consider the alternate or secondary spelling variation to be incorrect.

Recently however I stumbled across something rather interesting. Most of the time I use Safari and have installed my own dictionary files so I can use the preferred spelling. I also have Opera installed as a second browser for testing purposes. For some reason I decided to check the dictionary being used. Quite to my surprise I found Opera appeared to be using my dictionary. A quick test and yes Opera was indeed using my dictionary. On Windows the Opera browser would use the American or British dictionary. When Opera said they were going to use my open source work I asked what they were going to do in return. As a result they chose not to use my dictionary. I appreciated that because unlike Firefox and Google Chrome that just used my work and gave nothing in return, at least Opera chose not to use my work and to me I was good with that.

I then started thinking, I wonder which dictionary Google Chrome uses. I downloaded and installed Google Chrome. Again to my surprise Google Chrome under OS X doesn't use dictionaries it provides, but uses the dictionaries made available through Apple's operating system. Since my dictionary is defined as the default native dictionary under OS X, that meant Google Chrome was also using my dictionary. That makes me very happy. All users of Google Chrome need to do is to obtain the preferred Australian English spelling dictionary from myself, make it the default, and then Chrome users under OS X can take advantage of my work.

My dictionary work under OS X is still a work in progress, but having said that, it covers an estimated 98% of words most people use. I can be a bit of a perfectionist, so when I feel the time is right I'll release my work as production ready.

Apple Mac users now have three browsers they can select from that can use the preferred Australian English spelling. I've been a long time supporter of Microsoft Windows, but this is one area where Apple from my perspective is better. Microsoft does not provide the ability to use your own dictionary and my current approach under Windows whilst very good, still relies on identifying errors or issues and then providing files to correct those issues.

Personally I find Apple's Safari browser to be suitable for most of my browsing needs whilst using the Apple MacBook Air, so I don't need to use Google Chrome or Opera much at this point in time. However never say never, because you never know when a feature of one of the other browsers becomes exceptionally useful.

If you'd like to use the preferred Australian English spelling then feel free to visit my page ( and check out my work for Apple Macs.

Kelvin Eldridge
The preferred Australian English spelling dictionary.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Spelling and grammar errors can be easily spotted on many signs such as this one in the Eltham Village Shopping Centre.

I was visiting the Eltham Village Shopping Centre on the weekend. As I walked down the ramp from the top car park I noticed the advertising posters. I generally don't pay much attention to the posters, but the hairdresser's poster caught my attention and not in a particularly good way.

Can you spot the spelling and grammar errors?

As I walked into the shopping centre I looked up and saw the Centre Management sign. Yes another spelling error.

I thought that's not good. I thought, what's on the other side of the sign?

The word centre was now spelt correctly on the other side of the sign. How do graphic designers and printers get one side of a sign correct on one side and don't have the spelling the same on both sides? To me that doesn't make sense.

You may also notice the spelling carparks, which is a secondary spelling. The preferred spelling in Australia is car parks.

Whilst I tend to consider these spelling issues minor, I know for me, seeing spelling errors like this around me all the time can make it hard to remember the correct spelling and grammar. Often the incorrect usage of the apostrophe makes me doubt that I know the correct usage. We learn through usage and example and I often feel such poor examples cannot be helping those who are learning our language, such as the young and for those with English as a second language.

Can you spot the errors in the above signs?

Kelvin Eldridge
The best spelling for Australians.