Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Investigating words: Validity (part 4: variant spellings)

Posts in this series: part 1; part 2; part 3; part 4.

One thing I have not yet touched on is the issue of inflected and derived forms of variant spellings.  The Macquarie tends to be fairly poor about listing these (mostly, it does not), and that causes problems if the rules mentioned so far are taken very literally.

Here are some examples that could have arisen from episodes so far:
  • PLOW is listed as a variant spelling of PLOUGH, and PLOUGHER as a derived form of PLOUGH; the variant derived form PLOWER (episode 334) is not listed.
  • MOLDY is listed as a variant spelling of MOULDY, and MOULDIER as an inflected form of MOULDY; the variant inflected form MOLDIER (episode 357) is not listed.
  • STOMODEUM is listed as a variant spelling of STOMODAEUM, which has STOMODAEA as its plural and STOMODAEAL as a derived form.  Neither STOMODEA nor STOMODEAL (episode 423) are listed.
  • SIGNALED and SIGNALING are listed as variant spellings of SIGNALLED and SIGNALLING, inflected forms of SIGNAL.  However, while SIGNALLER is listed as a derived form, SIGNALER (episode 424) is not mentioned as a variant of it.
  • AUMBRY is listed as a variant spelling of AMBRY, and AMBRIES as the plural of AMBRY; the variant plural AUMBRIES (episode 443) is not listed.
A strict reading of the show's rules, and of the policies that David has announced, would render all of these invalid.  My personal hope, though, is that David adopts a more lenient approach.  Indeed, he may already do so but it just has not come up yet.  Specifically, I would hope that where a variant spelling exists, and a derived or inflected form of the main spelling is listed, then the corresponding derived or inflected form of the variant spelling is also allowed.

There is probably some caveat needed if there are cases for which the variant spelling is significantly different in a way which would impact the derived or inflected form, but my expectation is that very few, if any, cases of this would arise.

Such a policy would make all the above words valid, with the possible exception of SIGNALER.  I'm OK with that, and consider it an acceptable casualty; I do think that all of the others should be allowed, and I hope that David has a policy along those lines in mind.

Posts in this series: part 1; part 2; part 3; part 4.

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