Monday, October 17, 2011

Instances Where Multiple Spells Are Correct

How do you decide which spelling to use when more than one spelling is technically correct? Grey or gray? Judgment of judgement? Colour, honour, favour?

In my mind, grey and gray are two different tones of the same color. Grey is darker, llike the sky when a heavy rainstorm is rolling in; whereas gray is lighter, when it's just a misting spray and sunlight is diffused everywhere so it's still rather bright out.

I know the former (without the e) comes first in the dictionary and is more widely accepted. Most spell checkers don't even recognize the latter spelling (with the e). I personally write it with the e (the latter spelling) without thinking about it, but that extra e usually gets dropped on the second draft.

I've had a teacher try to mark me down for spelling it with the extra e in high school. I pulled out a dictionary (the teacher's actually, as it was an English class) and pointed it out to them. The teacher told me rather rudely that they would give me the point back this time but spell it without the e from then on or get the point taken off.

Colour/Color, Honour/Honor, Favour/Favor
This last set is not so much a spelling differentiation as a language differenciation. The former listings are British-English while the latter are American-English.

I have been known to use both spellings almost interchangeably, but I keep my choices consistent within a single piece. For the most part, I use the different spellings to create a mood change. If I'm telling a story with someone who speaks more formally and crisply, I'll use the British spellings; if the character or narrator is more informal, I'll use the American spellings.

Depending on the circumstances, I'll even carry over other British-English terminology and phraseology to make the tone more emphasized. Lorry, bonnet, watercloset, the lot. However, the opportunities for me to do that in my writing are few and far between.

Largely, choosing what form to use is a matter of your own judgement. These above are only a sample of my own preferences.