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Monday, December 21, 2015

American spelling ever present in our computer software.

As I was setting up the Bulk Billing Doctors Melbourne site and did a search for "bulk billing doctors Melbourne", I was reminded that it's not just the software we use on our computers the contains American spelling, it's also the online services we use.

If you do a search for "bulk billing doctors Melbourne", you'll notice the section Google shows that lists businesses. Not the ads or the organic search results, but the section which often includes a map. In this section you'll notice review ratings along with the term Medical Center. Yes the American spelling.

I've noticed this in other online services, such as LinkedIn, where you'll find the occasional American spelling.

Whilst it may be easily tricked and forget the Australian spelling, just remind yourself you're using software or services that have been developed and supplied by American companies. The companies should take the time and effort to localise their software or service, but their efforts in those areas is often lacking. We're just not important enough to them.

If you do get confused then keep in mind you can use Word Check to check if you're using the preferred Australian English spelling. Word Check is available at

Kelvin Eldridge
The preferred Australian English spelling.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Did you know Outlook web apps uses the spellchecker in your browser?

I get notified of spelling related articles on the internet. I found this article interesting as I wasn't aware that Microsoft's Outlook web apps use the browser's spellchecker. I'd never thought about it really. Older browsers didn't have spellchecking and online services typically used their own spellcheckers. Even as I type this I can see the check spelling option of Blogger, but my testing does indicate the browser is performing the spellcheck as you type function.

(NOTE: Being a little pedantic, but the article contains an error. They've been very good to be careful with their wording, but at the start of the second paragraph missed "Spell checking" which should be "Spellchecking". It's an easy error to make as that is one created by their spellchecker.)

Back on topic. That now means spellchecking is only as good as the dictionary you have installed and the standard dictionary contains many issues and errors. I've identified over two and half thousand with Microsoft products. Those using Google Chrome and Firefox will have even more because they use my obsolete open source work.

The best spellchecking experience for Australians is available using my add-in files for Microsoft Office, Internet Explorer and Apple Mac OSX (which covers native applications such as Safari, Apple mail and other applications, but weird as it may sound, is used by Microsoft Outlook). The Mac OSX native dictionary is still a work in progress but even at this stage is very good.

If you're interested in the best spellchecking experience you can find more information at

Kelvin Eldridge

Monday, July 13, 2015

When using software and online services keep in mind there's quite a lot of American spelling.

Every day as I use my computer and online services I see American spelling. I open the MacBook Air and see words such as color, maximize and center. Open up Microsoft Windows and I'll see words such as favorites and maximize.

Recently the following message popped up in Google using the spelling "spelled" instead of "spelt".

The problem I find is many of these incorrect spelling variations start to be considered the norm, or confuse people. The spelling "spell check" is often considered to be correct by many since the spellchecker changes the spelling from "spellcheck" to "spell check". Since the word processor makes the change it must be right, right? The answer is no, it is wrong.

The tools we use every day to assist us with our writing are full of American spelling variations and errors. It's important to keep this in mind so the tools don't negatively impact your writing. The preferred Australian English spelling tools I create improve the tools for the content you create, but we're not able to improve the user interface at this stage. Australia represents around 1-3% of the global market which isn't a large slice, so we need to keep in mind where we're positioned on the global stage.

As I find software or techniques to provide a better experience for Australians, I'll share that information via this blog.

Kelvin Eldridge

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Microsoft Office 2016 now available on Mac OSX so I decided to test the use of the preferred Australian English spelling.

I recently read that Microsoft Office 2016 for the Mac is now available for download if you're an Office 365 user. I decided to download and test Office 2016, specifically with respect to  the preferred Australian English spelling.

The download and installed worked well. I first confirmed Microsoft Office applications such as Word/Excel still use Microsoft's own dictionary. Outlook still uses your selected Apple dictionary. I find this truly weird, but it indicates Microsoft's developer teams may be separate for Outlook and the rest of Office. I was wondering if this would change but it hasn't. At least that's now known.

As I was using Microsoft Office 2016 I notice a number of American spellings in the menus. First I thought perhaps I hadn't set up something correctly. Reading further indicates the Microsoft Office user interface takes the language from the OSX operating system. I then checked the Language & Region setting. It was set to English so I thought that was the problem. I could see for example in Desktop & Screen Saver the spelling "Solid colors". I then decided to add English (Australia) and remove any other language so as to be very specific. That didn't help.

Unfortunately at this stage I don't seem to be able to find a way to remove the American spelling from the user interface for the Apple MacBook Air and thus Microsoft Office. I'm starting to get a feeling this may end up being one of those, they simply don't care enough about the Australian market. Happy for us to buy their products, but not enough to put in the extra yards to make it specific to the market. I hope I'm wrong.

Perhaps I'm wrong and there's something I'm overlooking. When time permits I'll drop into the local Apple Genius bar and see what they say.

Personally I don't think this good enough for either Apple or Microsoft. In the past I've tried to escalate language issues within Microsoft for years to no avail, so I don't really feel like expending that type of energy again for Apple.

It really irks me to think of the millions of Australians using Apple products who are constantly being shown American spelling. It's hard enough to spell correctly without being shown the incorrect spelling for words making us doubt ourselves.

Microsoft Office 2016 is available now for Office 365 users. From what I've read, for those who wish to purchase Microsoft Office product rather than subscribe, the release date is most likely around the Spring/September timeframe.

For those who have purchased my dictionary files, the files will continue to work as they did for Office 2013 and Mac OSX.

Kelvin Eldridge
The preferred Australian English spelling for Microsoft Office.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Thirty per cent of people worry about making writing and spelling errors.

When I read the linked article this paragraph caught my attention.

"Failing to achieve key outcomes/goals was considered the worst mistake ever made (32 per cent) quickly followed by written errors and spelling mistakes (30 per cent).",

I thought that's a lot of stress, some of which can be avoided.

Over the years I've read of many people getting stress or grief from their spellcheckers. The most common being the use of "ize" spelling (which is a secondary spelling variation in Australia), which is considered by many as American spelling and incorrect. In particular this affects students.

If spelling is causing you grief, Word Check is the only online service enabling you to check to see if the word you're using is spelt using the preferred Australian English spelling. The Microsoft Office add-ins enable you to eliminate thousands of secondary spelling variations often considered errors. For more information visit

Kelvin Eldridge
The preferred Australian English spelling add-ins for Windows and Mac.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Be careful when reading articles online, even if they're on sites.

An article from Business Insider pop into my inbox which I thought would be interesting to share. As I was reading the article something didn't feel right. Some of the advice didn't seem right for Australia.

Even though this article is on a site, Business Insider also has a .com site. The author of the article is Christina Sterbenz. Further checking reveals Christina lives in New York, so it starts to make sense that some of the content may not be correct.

If you search the internet for a part of the document, such as "These students spend months, sometimes years, studying for their big moments on the mic.", you'll see the article is being republished across the internet. For Australians the word "memorize" has been changed to "memorise", which is appropriate. But it is easy to change the obvious, but only an Australian editor/journalist would pick the less obvious differences in the language, that we as Australians will read as errors.

As you read the article there's small clues that catch your attention, which makes you suspect this isn't an Australian article. The first is the word "Anglicized". Yes they got "memorise" correct but they've not been thorough. Where the article really tripped me up is when they started talking about how we sound a word. That's when it didn't make sense as how Australians and Americans pronounce some words is different and it then became apparent this was an article that could mislead people.

Perhaps the worst piece of advice is to check the Oxford Online Dictionary. This is something you shouldn't do in Australia. We don't have a free online resource in Australia, but if you do check a word, use the printed Macquarie Dictionary and/or the Australian Oxford Dictionary.

There's some great information in the article which is very useful. However always keep in mind it you're not aware, you don't know what is good advice and what is bad advice. You'll start to absorb some of the bad advice and believe it to be true. That doesn't help you in the long run.

Kelvin Eldridge
The preferred Australian English spelling.

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.

"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
The preferred Australian English spelling.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

As I was reading about the term MX it occurred to me just how powerful words can be.

I was reading the following article about the MX possibly being included in the next edition of the Oxford English Dictionary.

The article states "The gender neutral honorific pronounced mux, will be an alternative to the traditional Miss, Mrs, Ms".

What occurred to me as I read the article that fighting for titles for equality appears  not to solve a problem, but to be to be part of the problem. Titles or salutations aren't really necessary and often they're used in ways that...well, is far from ideal.

Perhaps it's time to think about whether or not titles or salutations are necessary at all.

Kelvin Eldridge
The preferred Australian English spelling.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

I decided to do a spellcheck on the NAP site after receiving an article which featured the NAPLAN testing.

I'm probably not a fan of the NAPLAN test. I simply see another level of administration where I feel other existing tests I suspect could just as easily provide sufficient information. Even though students aren't supposed to study for these tests, from what I read, time is spent preparing for the NAPLAN tests. In addition the test puts some students under pressure which need not exist. At least that's how I see it.

I checked one of the spelling tests and can understand why many students (and adults) would get the words wrong. They testing is typically for the trickier words. Isn't it interesting that we focus so much on the trickier words, which often we can work around, rather than the majority of the words we use can spelling easily.

This made me wonder if there may be spelling mistakes on the NAP site and whilst generally it is very good, yes the site does have spelling mistakes. Here's an example of one which is a fairly common spelling mistake. There were others, but not a great number.

The article which I initially received and read made a very interesting point about the written test which was about the set time to write an article. When in our lives do we have to sit and write a document at a given time, for a given time period. It simply doesn't happen outside of the school system, or at least it hasn't happened in my career. Isn't it interesting the pressure we put our children under which is totally different from the world they'll be in when they leave school.

Kelvin Eldridge
Creator of the preferred Australian English spelling dictionary.

Monday, April 13, 2015

For a bit of fun - The Australian Spelling Test.

A while ago I created a quiz which shows people something about Australian English spelling that many people don't notice. That is, there are many words which can be spelt in two or more ways. Both are correct, but one is preferred over the other based on usage.

I've found people quite enjoyed doing the quiz so I've decided to add the quiz to the Australian Dictionary site and I've now called the quiz the Australian Spelling Test. You can access the test from the menu, or go direct to the page

By the way, for those of you who think my spelling may be perfect, it isn't. Even though I know these words and have done the test many times, after returning to the test and not having done it for a while, I could only manage 9 out of 10, and it still took me three attempts to work out which word I was spelling using a secondary spelling variation.

The preferred Australian English spelling dictionary I've created has identified over two and half thousand such words (as well as errors often found in spellcheckers) and the add-ins I've created remove the secondary spelling variations for those using products such as Microsoft Office. Many people consider secondary spelling variations to be incorrect, and often they're mistaken as being American. One thing for sure, is you use the preferred spelling you'll be considered to be using the correct Australian English spelling and the spelling in your documents will be consistent.

Kelvin Eldridge
Creator of the preferred Australian English spelling dictionary.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Is the spelling business advisor or business adviser?

Spelling to me is an incredibly useful tool. Spelling often provides an insight into the quality of a businesses that are providing us with services. Often when something doesn't feel right about a business, if you check their spelling you often get hints you'd never pick up.

When I see the words business advisor across the front of an accounting practice I simply shudder. How could a professional business not take the time and effort to check out the spelling for a major part of their advertising. The use of the word advisor is now so common that it is more common than the correct spelling adviser. In time that probably means by default the incorrect spelling will become the correct spelling and to me that's a shame. It isn't the general public, but a specific group of businesses using the wrong spelling that leads us to believe it is the right spelling.

Not exactly on topic, but when I saw this very large sign on the wall of a shop in Thomastown, it did make me wonder. The accounting firm has spent a considerable amount of time and money getting a very large sign attached to the side wall of a shop which has great traffic visibility in two directions. At no time does it appear the accountant bothered to check the spelling of the word bookkeeping, which is spelt incorrectly as bookeeping. Even if they did, then they're more than happy to leave the sign up for years with the spelling error. How accurate and caring of your critical business information do you think this accountant would be when they don't even care about their own advertising?

Spelling often provides us with clues which I think are certainly worth looking for, and can often provide us with information the supplier probably wouldn't want us to know. Whilst spelling may not be the deal breaker in a final decision, for me it puts the business on the back foot and this simply makes it harder for them to get my business.

Don't let poor spelling affect your chances of getting business, a better grade for your assignments, or perhaps even that job promotion. Life can be tough so don't make it tougher than it need be. If in doubt, pick up a dictionary and verify the spelling of the word. Using the internet generally isn't a great idea as the spelling tools available are mostly overseas based and thus not the best for Australia.

Kelvin Eldridge

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

When using the many low cost online options for written work, make sure you check the spelling.

I saw the following on the Fiverr site and it's a reminder that when using low cost services, to make sure the quality of your written material is up to standard.

Kelvin Eldridge
The creator of the preferred Australian English spelling dictionary.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

What's the difference between a lawyer and a solicitor?

Yesterday I was performing some SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) tasks for a client for the phrase conveyancing Melbourne. Part of researching for SEO is to look for suitable words and the words lawyer and solicitor came up. I thought to myself, what's the difference? Whenever I find a word I don't know the meaning of I become curious and like to learn about the word.

I did some searching on the internet but interestingly the Macquarie dictionary provides quite good definitions.

Lawyer: noun 1. someone who is professionally qualified to practise law in any capacity (whether a judge, barrister, solicitor, or a teacher of law).

Solicitor: noun 2. a member of that branch of the legal profession whose services consist of advising clients, representing them before the lower courts and preparing cases for barristers to try in the higher courts.

Another word mystery now cleared up for me.

What do you do when you find a word you don't understand? Simply skip the word and move on, or take the opportunity to extend your knowledge?

Kelvin Eldridge
Creator of the preferred Australian spelling dictionary add-ins for Windows and Macs.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

A video called 38 Common Spelling and Grammar Errors I thought was worth sharing.

I watched this video and felt it contains a lot of useful information. Unfortunately it races through the information so you don't have sufficient time to absorb the tips being shared. I thought I'd share the video and then also write up the tips being shared. I also thought I'd skip the jargon being used as best I could, as many of us who haven't studied the English language at depth really don't get the jargon. Just more meaningless words to confuse us even further.

So here goes. Here's a link to the video.

1. Lay versus Lie.

Yep. This one gives me grief all the time.

You lay down your copy of your book, but if it happened in the past, you laid down your book.

I think I'll lie down and have a sleep, but if it happened in the past, I laid down and had a sleep and feel much better now.

The word lay needs an object such as the book or in the last example "Clark Kent lay down...", whereas lie appears to be more about taking an action. Yep. That's confusing so I'll still need to keep working on that one.

2. Literally.

People often say things like "I literally died when I...", but literally means it actually happened. Since they aren't dead then it didn't literally happen.

3. If your sentence has two independent thoughts you have a run on sentence. You can use a semi colon, but it is better to use a full stop and make two separate sentences.

4. Who versus that.

Who is for people and that is for non people.

5. For sell should be for sale.

6. Who versus Whom

The trick to use here is if your answer contains he or she, then it is who, and if it contains him or her use whom.

Example. Who is your favourite Spice girl? Whom do you like among the Spice girls?

OK. I don't know about you, but that one didn't help me at all. I need to do some more reading.

7. If you're using a singular noun use a singular pronoun. If you're using a plural noun use a plural pronoun.

E.g. Everyone in our office has their friends. Everyone in our office has his/her favourite episode of Duck Dynasty.

8. Catch IN the Rye. Sex AND the City.

These are a title of a book and the title of a TV series. You use the title as it was originally written.

9 Nip it in the bud. You don't nip anything in the butt.

10. I couldn't care less. You don't say "I could care less" because that means you at least care a little.

11. A lot is two words. Not alot.

12. Lose versus Loose. To lose something has one o. Loose which means not tight has two.

13. Fewer versus Less.

If you can count the objects then use fewer. If it is an uncountable quality use less.

E.g. There are fewer people in the restaurant today. I love this restaurant less than my favourite restaurant. Love is not something you can count.

14. Could of, would of, should of, should be could've, would've should've, which are contractions of the word and have.

15. For all intensive purposes should be for all intents and purposes.

16. Subjects: I, you, he, she, it we they. Objects: me, you, him, her, it us, them.

I ate ice cream where I is the subject. Henry the VIII married and decapitated me etc., where me is the object.

This doesn't totally help as there's overlap in the two lists, but you can see that if you were to use some objects as subjects and some subjects as objects in the sentences it doesn't sound right. For example it doesn't sound right to say "me ate ice cream".

17. Tip for using me or I. Remove the other noun and make sure using each alone makes sense in the sentence.

18. Anxious versus Eager.

Anxious means nervous and eager means excited.

19. Good versus Well.

Good is an adjective or noun and well is an adverb.

I'm doing well not I'm doing good.

20. If versus Whether.

If implies a condition whereas whether implies there's a choice.

21. Bring versus Take.

If it is coming towards the speaker use bring, but if it's going away from the speaker use take.

22. Historic versus Historical

Historic is something significant that happened in history, but historical is anything that happened in the past.

23. You're means you are. Your means something you possess.

24. It's is a contraction of it is, it has, whereas its is something it possesses. You may have noticed a spelling error of posesses in the video at this point.

25. There is a location, their is something they possess, and they're is a contraction of they are.

26. Who's is a contraction of who is, whereas whose indicates ownership, or of whom or which.

27. Emigrate is when you leave a country and immigrate is when you come to a country.

28. Two is the number which comes after one and too means also. To is the only one you can use as a preposition or infinitive, as in "I want to go to Disneyworld".

29. Allusion versus Illusion. Allusion comes from the word allude and illusion is a deceptive performance.

30. Bear versus bare.

A bear you see in the woods, it also means to carry or tolerate such as bear with me, and also to stay in one direction such as bear right. Bare is when you have no clothes on are are exposed. This one has me tricked in the past.

31. Elicit versus Illicit

Elicit is to draw out some information you want, whereas illicit is illegal, as in illicit drugs.

32. Led is the past tense of lead (which sounds like it should be spelt leed). Lead is the type of paint your shouldn't use.

33. Stationery versus Stationary. The trick I was taught is think of e for envelope when thinking about stationery for the office.

34. Weather versus Whether. The weather around us and whether is a choice. Whilst not mentioned, here there is a third spelling which is wether, but it is rarely used and means a castrated ram.

35. Affect versus Effect.

You can affect the outcome to produce an effect. Effect is an outcome or the result. Affect is a verb which is an action.

36. Than versus Then. Use than for comparison and then for next or later.

37. Principal versus Principle.

My headmaster told me once to think of principal as your pal. OK. I actually remembered that but didn't take too much to the idea of him being my pal.

The word principal means something of highest in importance. E.g. The principal problem being...

The word principle means a law or a rule.

Now that can be confusing because we say things like we have very strong principles and they tend to be highly important to us. We can however think of them as being the rules by which we live.

38. Accept versus Except. You have to accept this list is now complete, except that I still need to add my remaining comments.

So with much typing that's it. The 38 points raised in the video along with some notes. I hope others find this useful. For me this has been a good reminder of the subtle uses of our language. For those that studied the constructs of our language in more detail much of this will be easy. For the rest of us, it seems more like fine tuning of our language skills over time through trial and error.

Which of these words have given you trouble in the past? For me there's been a number and sometimes even though I think I know which word to use, I still have to pause and think.

Kelvin Eldridge
Creator of the preferred Australian English spelling dictionary.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Poor English is one clue the email you've received is possibly a scam.

I read this article titled, "Police urge residents to protect against cyber attacks".

I regularly advise computer users to listen to their instinct. Nearly everyone I've helped who have infected their computer say they felt something wasn't right. If you get this feeling listen to it. Nature has provided us with a great survival instinct and we should take advantage of what nature has provided.

In the article I found this paragraph relevant to readers of this blog.

Look for spelling mistakes on a business site. Pharming is a practice where cyber criminals redirect your attempt to access a site to their version of the same site. Spelling mistakes, poor grammar/english and the use of old business emblems are the giveaway. Be observant.

The problem is even the article itself contains the word "english", which should be "English". If the article you're reading has poor grammar and is written by skilled journalists, then many business sites will have poor grammar. It is a clue, but not the only clue.

The other paragraph which concerns me is the following:

Ensure your home computer/laptop/tablet/smartphone(s) has antivirus protection.

Yes. Definitely install and keep your anti-virus software up to date. However keep in mind nearly every infected computer that I've repaired (and there been hundreds over the years), have had anti-virus software installed. Anti-virus software will not catch the latest malware (there's a potential windows of 24-48 where you software doesn't know about the new malware) and do not stop many infections. Many infections are a result of the user going to a site, clicking on a link, installing free software. Even those ads you see in Google can lead you to unwanted and undesirable software.

Ultimately you're your own best defence. If it doesn't feel right STOP. Think about what you're just about to do. It may cost your hundreds. None of us are immune to being infected. I read an American police station had to pay the ransom to decrypt their data. Do make sure you have a backup of your important information off your computer.

Also to be scammed often has nothing to do with your computer. I recently had my credit card cancelled due to fraud and it had nothing to do with my computer. Another family member had their credit card cancelled due to fraud and they don't have a computer. A client was scammed simply by providing their bank customer number. I've seen the banks and telcos get tricked and they should know better. So keep in mind if the police, banks and telcos can be tricked, then if you do get tricked, don't be too hard on yourself. The crooks are very clever and do this for a living.

Kelvin Eldridge
For IT support I can be contacted on 0415 910 703.
My IT site is or www.Computer-Repairs.Melbourne.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Is it, writing a practice piece or practise piece?

I thought I'd share a question I just saw on the Yahoo Answers service. The question was, "Is it, Writing a practice piece or practise piece?"

I have to admit the words practice and practise gave me a lot of grief. I know the obvious usage but when I saw 'practice makes perfect' it didn't feel right, even though it is. Now I'm a tad better at working out those situations where I still struggle. For me this is like a fun puzzle.

OK. Then. The answer is a practice piece. Why?

You are writing the piece to be used as part of practice and thus a practice piece. You could practise using a practice piece, but you write a practice piece. The piece is for practice which is the regular activity and thus it is a practice piece. You could say I'm going to practise my writing by writing a practice piece, but that's not saying the same thing.

Sometimes we can get confused when we shorten our sentences. It is possible the person's question being quite short may not be clear as the what they really want, but all we can do is to respond to the question as it is asked. A better question would probably be, what do you mean?

Kelvin Eldridge
Creator of the preferred Australian English spelling dictionary.

How would you go answering the numeracy and literacy tests new teachers are expected to undertake?

I read the article at the link below and whilst I think I'm a bit of a rebel at times, I do think teachers should reach a basic acceptable level in numeracy and literacy, if it is considered an important aspect of their profession.

It does concern me however that such tests are only going to be performed at the end of a course, which in my opinion is far too late. A lack of skills should have in most cases been evident before people were admitted into a course and certainly assessed during the course. If there is a problem in certain areas this should have been picked up and the person not allowed to proceed. This simply feels like a pointless exercise after the event. Another level of bureaucracy that could be avoided.

How do you think you would go based on the example questions in the following article?

Now here is another interesting thought. With most tests you're allowed a certain level of errors. Based on my observation of year 12 results and other test results I've observed, the average result appears to be around sixty four per cent. Would future teachers simply have to attain a pass of around fifty per cent and thus be below average?

It is important to keep in mind that none of us are perfect and we'll all make spelling, grammar and typing errors. Teachers are just people. I know from my interest in words that finer aspects of my skills have evolved considerably over the last 12 years. Would I have passed the numeracy and literacy test had I become a maths/science teacher? I have no doubt I would have, but I also know there would have been much room for improvement.

As long as teachers reach an acceptable level of numeracy and literacy skills and endeavour to continue to grow those skills over time, I think we have a good system.

The work I do with the preferred Australian English spelling dictionary is really about lifting our written work to the next level. To be better than we would be with the writing tools such as Microsoft Office, or the browsers we currently use. It never hurts to become better at what we do, but often that simply takes time and practise.

Kelvin Eldridge
Creator of the preferred Australian English spelling dictionary.

Friday, February 6, 2015

James Adonis' article 'Should we adopt American spelling', which appears in The Sydney Morning Herald contains an important piece of misinformation.

I often see people state we should move to American spelling because of the number of Americans using the language is huge compared to all other variations. However that logic is flawed. If we thought that way we should all think about learning Chinese. I'm neither for or against change, but I do believe if we're using Australian English, we should use the spelling variations used by the majority of Australians.

In the article by James ( states the following.

It is, however, a losing battle, made worse by an American institution by the name of Microsoft and, more specifically, its helpful but insidious spellchecking tool. 

Here’s why. Quite rarely do people change the language of the spellchecker to ‘English AUS’ or ‘English UK’. The consequence is that they type away oblivious of the norms in their own country. Subconsciously, they’re allowing American spelling to infiltrate their writing, turning those foreign nuances into a habit.

Like many others James blames Microsoft. Yes let's all get on the bash Microsoft bandwagon. The reality is Microsoft have done quite a good job. Probably around 10 years ago James would have been right in terms of the default language, but that issue hasn't existed for many years. If your computer is set up correctly Office will pick up that you're using Australian English and you'll use the Australian dictionary.

Here's the problem. Many people think 'ize' spelling is American and 'ise' is British. Thus we should be using British. Therein lies the basic problem. Even the English use both spelling variations and so do we. So generally both the 'ize' and 'ise' spelling variations of words are BOTH correct (except in America where they made a decision long ago). However the 'ise' variation has become the preferred spelling in Australia. Microsoft provides both spelling variations in their dictionary so it is up to the user to decided how they wish to spell. This is the same as our authoritative dictionaries which are descriptive and not prescriptive.

Personally I find this confusing and unnecessary, and thus I created the preferred Australian English spelling dictionary which enabled me to create add-ins for Microsoft Office, Internet Explorer and currently in development, a native dictionary for Apple Macs.

So I'm sorry to say James, it isn't Microsoft's fault. At least in most instances. There are errors in the dictionary as there will be in any work but this isn't one. No it isn't because computers aren't set up correctly as they've evolved. However that doesn't stop people downloading and installing software incorrectly. How many people chose the US version of open source software over the British version simply because it is more up-to-date. I suspect many.

For those who are interested in finding out the reality of what is happening with the spellcheckers, please feel free to drop into my site

I am however thankful that James did spell spellchecker as one word. If he had been using Microsoft Office, or most of the spellcheckers used by Australians,  the word will be marked as an error and the suggestion which splits spellchecker into 'spell' and 'checker'. That's an error in the software people are using.

Kelvin Eldridge
Creator of the preferred Australian English spelling dictionary.

eBay Australia main page used High Wasted instead of High Waisted.

I found this typo on the main page of eBay after seeing the typo mentioned in the community forums.

I did wonder if perhaps it was branding. You know, the type of branding that deliberately misspells words. However when I clicked the link I found an additional spelling error and some images had text using wasted and others using waisted.

The members were having fun with the obvious recreational drug inferences.

I must admit I was quite surprised to see this typo on the main page of eBay.

Kelvin Eldridge
Creator of the preferred Australian English spelling dictionary.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

In an article what does the word sic mean and how should sic be used?

I was reading an article today and in the quoted section of text I noticed the word sic appearing in brackets and thought, I really should look sic up. I've seen sic often but have never taken the time to check out what sic really means and how sic should be used. I have a general feeling what sic may mean, and I'm sure many others learn things from context as I have, but in this case I thought it was time to investigate further. I'm glad I did as what I found uncovered an interesting variation between Australian and American English.

The word sic is Latin and means thus. I don't usually quote Wikipedia as I don't feel Wikipedia is an authoritative reference and contains many errors. In addition Wikipedia can lead people to incorrect information as it doesn't qualify the information sufficiently in many cases and rarely for Australian usage. Thus Australians can mistakenly use Wikipedia as a reference think they're correct, but they end up using American English. However, in this case the entry in Wikipedia beings with, The Latin adverb sic ("thus"; in full: sic erat scriptum, "thus was it written") and I thought that information was worth sharing.

What this is saying is, the writer of the article wants to show the quote is being written as it was originally written and that the writer has not introduced an error. The effect of sic is to call attention to the reader the original text may have a spelling, grammatical error, or perhaps some other issue the reader is to be made aware off.

The Wikipedia entry also mentioned another point I found very interesting. In America the general convention is to place the word sic within square brackets, whereas in Britain the convention is to use parentheses or as some like to call them, curved or round brackets. A check of the Macquarie Dictionary does not provide guidance on formatting, but The Australian Oxford Dictionary provides an example shows round brackets are used.

The word sic being a foreign language word is often written in italics. The word sic is not an abbreviation and thus sic should not end with a full stop.

For me this information is great to know. I've often had the need to quote text which contains an error and on the one hand, I don't wish to change the text as that is not how it originally appeared, but on the other, I don't want to share an error which may mislead people. The word sic however does have one drawback that needs to be considered. When you point out an error in text by others, in effect you can end up diminishing the perceived value of the text. For some that will be helpful, but for others they will see this as the writer being condescending. You won't be able to keep everyone happy. My feeling is, if you can contact the original writer ask if it is OK to change the text. If you can't contact the writer, then it is probably better to use sic. I think it is better to aim for higher standards and lead by example. You never know when someone reading your work will benefit from what you've learnt.

Kelvin Eldridge
Creator of the preferred Australian English spelling dictionary.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Disappointed that Woolworths can't be bothered with correct punctuation in their Everyday Rewards email.

I received an Everyday Rewards email this morning and couldn't believe the poor use of punctuation. Three punctuation errors on their blackboard. Can you spot them?

Greengrocers and often held up for their examples of bad punctuation, but in this case this would be a communications section of Woolworths creating the material, so there is no excuse for poor punctuation. If anything, it makes you wonder what they're trying to do. Are they trying to make it look like they're the local greengrocer? It simply makes no sense for Woolworths to drop the standard of their communication.

Kelvin Eldridge
Creator of the preferred Australian English spelling dictionary.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

When you see signs promoting bottled water to stay hydrated, keep in mind it is just marketing and may be misleading.

Earlier this year I became aware of a European ruling which, from what I understand, basically means businesses should not market bottled water was a way to stay hydrated. The problem I feel is using words which have a medical meaning and then the words start to be used by marketers. A good sounding official word lends credibility to the claim which helps sell the product. This leads to misinformation and people making poor decisions with regards to their health. The above sign is displayed at Hungry Jack's in Eltham.

I'm not expert in this area, but I have watched one person who was advised by a doctor to drink plenty of liquids (a well known sports drink) which resulted in them being severely dehydrated (having depleted salts from their body) and ended up in hospital for quite some time in a very dire medical situation.

What I found interesting is it appears Dr Andreas Hahn and Dr Moritz Hagenmeyer of the Institute for Food Science and Human Nutrition at Hanover Leibniz University mounted a test case and the outcome doesn't appear to what they necessarily wanted.

From this article in the Daily Mail, it appears to me they were looking for a way to market products, whereas the test case worked against that outcome. Here is a link to the EFSA (European Food Safety Authority) Scientific Opinion.

On the one hand I'm disappointed, although it should be expected, that scientists would use their skills for advertising, what is good, is the scientific opinion seems to have produced the appropriate outcome. Dehydration is a medical condition and marketers shouldn't use words which may mislead people for the sake of business profits.

Kelvin Eldridge
Creator of the preferred Australian English spelling dictionary.

Friday, January 23, 2015

First version of Crossword Helper is now live.

For a while I've been wanting to write a crossword helper. You know, a tool where you could enter the letters you know and leave out the letters you don't and you'll get a list of suitable words. I'm not quite there yet, but I decided as a first step I'd release the Crossword Helper web app so those doing crosswords or playing scrabble can check a word.

If there is sufficient interest based on the traffic I get to, I'll put in the time to create the crossword helper that does what I mentioned above. Now not trying to encourage people to cheat, but I've found in my own testing of concepts the approach can be really good for playing hangman as well.

Please feel free to visit The more visitors showing interest the more I'll be encouraged to put in the required time.

Kelvin Eldridge
Creator of the preferred Australian English spelling dictionary.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Perhaps some of our politicians need a refresher in spelling as MP Jo-Ann Miller's sign on her car shows.

I read this article and had a little chuckle.

Jo-Ann is of course not alone in having a sign made up for her car containing a spelling error. The problem here is anyone who sends and email to the address on the sign will probably have the email bounce.

How many times have you seen incorrect spelling in a sign on a vehicle?

I see spelling errors all the time. You'd would think if the business doing the work doesn't pick up the error, the person paying hard earned money would. Perhaps not in this case as it is probably paid for through an expense and not out of their own pocket. Luckily the sign looks like a magnetic sign so can easily be replaced.

Kelvin Eldridge
Creator of the preferred Australian English spelling dictionary.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Article by Phillip Thomson in the Canberra times made my grit my teeth for two reasons.

I noticed the following article advising new graduates to use a spell checker and when I see that, I can't help feeling the journalist really needs to get better tools. The spelling is spellchecker.

Here is the paragraph that I feel is substandard advice and shows people, including journalists, are totally unaware of major issues with the writing tools they use.

"Before they send an email or document a graduate should use the automatic spell checker and make sure it's set to Australian English, not American."

I've already mentioned above the Phillip's incorrect spelling spell checker, but the problem with using the automatic spellchecker is even if you set it to Australian English, many people consider certain spelling variations such as organization to be an American spelling. If you include such spelling variations in your resume or cover letter, it is possible your correspondence will disadvantage you. In Australia both organisation and organization are valid spelling variations, with organisation being the most widely used and what I term the preferred Australian English spelling, but many people consider the ize spelling variation to be the American spelling.

Now you can argue until your blue in the face that you're right, but then you're now also argumentative. Even if you get to an interview, are you really then going to argue with a possible future employer. No, or at least you shouldn't.

The problem isn't you, it is the tools you're using. It took me decades to realise this and once I did I decided to do something about it. I created the preferred Australian English spelling files which can be added to Microsoft Office on Windows and Macs, and also have an Australian dictionary in development which can be installed as a native dictionary under OS X. The files I produce cover Microsoft Office and Internet Explorer under Windows, and Microsoft Office, Safari and all applications running on a Mac which use the built in spellchecker. You can find the dictionary files at

So if you're a new graduate don't take the chance that people think you can't spell because "they're" wrong. Don't make spelling an issue. Use the right tools to improve your chances of getting off to a good start in your career.

Kelvin Eldridge
Creator of the preferred Australian English spelling files.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

One in five online daters missing out due to spelling errors in their online profiles.

I came across the following article which I must admit had me initially confused. The article's heading was about grammatical errors and yet the article seemed to jump all over the place. It took a little effort to read but in the end it turns out an online dating service survey of members showed that 20% of people would discard other members based on spelling errors in their profiles.

I like to find examples of where spelling matters, but I'd never thought much about dating services providing such an example. It does make sense. If people don't care enough to attempt to get their spelling correct in the online dating profile, it can and now apparently does leave doubt in the mind of others.

Interestingly the journalist Ian Watson of ACT News made the statement, Readers, do you find poor spelling unforgivable? If this column opened with a spelling mistake (like "Perrygrin" or perhaps "Carillion") would you stop reading? Would you instantly dismiss this columnist as a bogan ignoramus?

Now as to suggest Ian is a bogan ignoramus I would never go that far, however I did notice some inappropriate use of hyphens which to me does reduce his professionalism and thus credibility slightly. It would however not stop me from reading the article as I'm receiving information I'm interested in at effectively no cost. However if I was buying something, poor spelling is a flag that to me can and does make a difference.

The examples of poor spelling or use of secondary spellings in the article are: mis-spelled, mis-used, spelled. However these are relatively minor and I found the article interesting once I'd grown accustom to Ian's style.

This should be a heads up for those using online dating services. If you can't spell then get a friend who can to help you. A little extra effort may increase your chances of a date by 25%, so why not make the effort. No point making your life harder than it need be.

Kelvin Eldridge
Creator of the preferred Australian English spelling dictionary.

A study of more than 200 secondary teaching undergraduates identified high rates of error in general spelling.

When I read articles like the following, and the main group mentioned is the Union, it does make me wonder what the motivation behind the article is.

No teacher will be perfect and in fact no professional is always one hundred per cent correct. My own experience with teachers is they're generally pretty good. With my child's teachers when I asked two teachers from the same year level for the spelling of a word, they used different spelling variations. I thought that could be better. I also asked the English coordinator whether it should be likes and dislikes or like's and dislikes. The answer to me is now obvious, but at the time I struggled with some apostrophe usage. My problem is I often see both forms used which can lead people to use the wrong form or doubt themselves. The answer I received was, "they'd have to ask their partner as they were better than them at that type of thing". Not particularly good for mid-level secondary school.

Even then I still consider this type of issue to be relatively minor. As long as people try to continuously improve their level of skill, in time their knowledge, experience and expertise will exceed all but the most talented students.

Let's be fair. I've watched my skills improve in certain areas over time and I believe that is true for most people. Obviously those who don't meet a minimum acceptable standard for their subject area may need to think again about their choice of occupation if it will impact others they're there to help.

The one thing I do miss that I believe should be provided in online articles, is a link to the actual research. The media tends to exaggerate for a better story and often research articles get published to help the profile of the researcher. Ultimately however a lot of effort goes into the research and most academics I feel try to genuinely provide balanced information. Access to the raw research rather than just snippets of information to grab media attention would be welcome and appreciated.

Kelvin Eldridge
The preferred Australian English spelling.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

How can I tell if the word should end in -able or -ible?

I read a post this morning by a journalist (Angus Kidman) who wrote about words ending in -able and -ible. He'd noticed a sign whilst on holidays and realised he didn't know if there was a rule when one ending or the other should be used. You can find the article here.

Angus's article prompted me to investigate. Some will point to the etymology of a word to assist, but that doesn't always help. I decided to pull all the words ending in -able or -ible and see if there is an easier way to know. For me if I'm in doubt the easiest way I know is to use Word Check which is an online tool I wrote.

The dictionary tools I write also mean this is not an issue for me. The leading authoritative references such as the Macquarie and Oxford dictionaries will often list the spelling used the most, but also state other spelling variations. Not particularly helpful. The dictionary tools I write makes it easier as only the preferred Australian English spelling is considered correct and secondary variations are marked as spelling errors. Since I have these dictionary tools installed across all the applications and operating systems I use this is no longer an issue for me.

However I decided to go one step further. In reviewing the words I found there was only 65 base words which contain -ible, whereas there are significantly more words ending in -able. Thus if you take the time to learn the 65 words (many of which are obvious), you'll know if it isn't one of these words then the spelling should be -able. There are a few words with -eble, -oble, or -uble endings, but generally these words are obvious and thus not an issue either.

Many people don't appreciate the time involved in this research. I've spent the last 8-9 years working on the preferred Australian English spelling dictionary so with that I'm well placed to create a list of words. Even then I needed to crosscheck a number of words. This enabled me to find and remove one word which I'd incorrectly added with both spelling variations and add another 10 words I'd not previously included in the dictionary. Overall around two hours of work. Since very few people wish to pay for such information it is highly unlikely the time will ever be recovered.

For those who are interested, I've added a MyAnswers solution which documents the 65 base words ending in -ible which can be found at

The changes to the dictionary as a result of this investigation have now been made to the word list and will be available in the next and future releases of my dictionary work.

Kelvin Eldridge

PS. Whilst not meaning to disparage the article written by Angus, I did notice the usage of the secondary spelling variation spelled, which should be spelt. There is also the use of the hyphen in no-one, which should be no one, without the hyphen. No one is perfect and I've certainly learnt and made a change to my work as a result of reading Angus's article. Thank you Angus.

Friday, January 2, 2015

I and me. Jonathan Holmes' grammatical hate-list article provides excellent examples of when to use I and me.

I find articles like Jonathan's (link provided below) to be very informative. Often when writers are being critical, or as they say pedantic, we are provided with some excellent examples of good and bad usage of our language.

In this case I was particularly interested in the examples of the use of I and me. Jonathan's tip provides an excellent way to decide when it is appropriate to use me. I don't know about you, but certainly I've heard many times over the years that it is not me but I that should be used. After a while you start to use I all the time as that seems to be the correct usage. Jonathan's article however provides a good number of examples and then illustrates that all the examples should have used me or us.

The trick he explains is to drop the second person and then see if the sentence still makes sense if you use me.

Those who follow my work will know my only claim to literary expertise, is to identify the preferred Australian spelling when we are presented with multiple spelling variations. In this area I can be pedantic. In Jonathan's article he uses the spelling spelled instead of spelt.

The problem I find when reading articles both online and offline, is if I see the spelling spelled, this often raises a red flag for me, that I may be reading an article that has been republished from American sources and the content of the article may not always be relevant to Australia.

To put what I've learnt from Jonathan's article I hope I'm correct in the following usage.

I can now see that if I write "Sue asked my wife and I to dinner", that I'm not using I correctly. How do I know? If I change the sentence to "Sue asked me to dinner" that sounds better than "Sue asked I to dinner". Thus the correct usage should be "Sue asked my wife and me to dinner".

I can now also see if I write "My wife and I went to Sue's for dinner" is correct usage, because if I write "Me went to Sue's for dinner" it doesn't sound correct.

The trick of dropping the second person from the sentence helps to determine if you're using I or me correctly.

Now of course this does mean I have to assume that what Jonathan has shared is correct and we shouldn't always make that assumption. As a pedant Jonathan should be as pedantic on the usage of spelled and spelt but isn't, so we should now look for additional authoritative resources to ensure what we have learnt is correct.

In this case I first checked the Macquarie Dictionary site but couldn't find anything quickly. I then used Google and found the British Oxford site which I consider authoritative for such purposes. You can see the Oxford shares the same tip (

I don't know about others, but for me, my interest in the preferred spelling often leads me to learn more about our language gradually improving my skills. Today I learnt a little more about the use of the pronouns I and me. I hope that you've also enjoyed sharing this journey with me.

Kelvin Eldridge
The preferred Australian English spelling.