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Tossing Pebbles in the Stream

This blog is my place to sit and toss pebbles into the stream. The stream of Life relentlessly passing before us. We can affect it little. For the most part I just watch it passing and follow the flow. Occasionally, I need to comment on its passing, tossing a pebble at it to enjoy the ripple affect upon Life's surface.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

"Is it 'traveling' or 'travelling'?"

As a native English speaker when I try to decide how to spell a word I try it various ways to see if it looks right.

After I finished my previous post I had a moment of doubt about "travelling". It looked right but I think I had seen it as "traveling". I then read it in a blog of a former teacher, who I respect for his language skill as "traveling". So I went back to my post and edited it.

After living with the one "l"" traveling" for a while I couldn't get it out of my head "Naw, it doesn't quite look right!" So I did what I usually do to check my spelling. I google the word. You know I found it both with one "l" and two "ll"s. Damn! that is no help. I guess it is both ways.

In my head, I keep reciting the rule as I remember it "When adding an ending. If the word ends in a consonant preceded by a long vowel, you double the final consonant." Something like that, after all it has been over 50 years since I learned the rule. That would mean the double "ll" would be correct. But what of the single "l" version?

It must be a British and American English difference I decide. Well, as a form of protest against American cultural empirialism, I go out of my way to use the Canadian spelling (or word). So you will always see me include the "u" in such words as colour , "z" instead of "s" in some words, cheque instead of check, programme rather than program, etc. I even decided years ago to resort to using the archaic word 'gaol' in place of jail.

Now the confusion in my mind on the two ways of spelling "travelling" is really frustrating me!

I get out my Oxford English Dictionary and look up "travel". (My mother insisted that to speak the Queen's English correctly the OED was the ultimately authoritative one). Well, my small version is to cryptic in its explanation showing only "~led". Well that only handled "travelled" for sure. Still a grain of doubt on adding "ing". What is the rule for sure which would allow both English and American spellings???

I google "English Grammar" and find a few sites where I find the rule.

Rule 4: When adding a suffix that begins with a vowel, sometimes you must double the consonant.
a. When a one-syllable word ends with a consonant preceded by a single vowel, double the consonant. This only applies, however, when the suffix begins with a vowel.
b. When a word of two or more syllables ends in a single consonant preceded by a single vowel, and when the final syllable is accented, double the consonant when adding a suffix.
c.When a word of two or more syllables does not have the accent on the final syllable, the consonant should not be doubled.

Well, there it is!!!! "b" applies. But do the Americans pronounce the word different so they use "c". I find myself trying "travel" out loud with the accent on the first or second syllable.

In my quest for certainty on this issue I cannot decide. (Damn! if I had been this fussy as a student, I would have been a great scholar. Age must be driving me toward perfectionism.)

I look at another googled English Grammar. It just flatly says "travelling" is British and "traveling" is Amercian useage. I re-edit my post and reinstate "travelling".

There it is settled! The Americans break the rules and use simplified spellings.

It seem my years of living in the US has left me conflicted on more than a few things. This in itself is so Canadian!!!

If you want to drive yourself mad explore the differences between British and American English
(Don't even mention Australian English)

Differences Between American and British English


At 9:04 a.m., Blogger Anvilcloud said...

It makes sense to me to double the consonant in a case like that, but the American practice of dropping of the "u" in "our" endings and of using "er" rather than "re" endings is preferable to me. (Note that I want to double the "r" in preferable, and I'm not supposed to.) However, I still use the British variation most often. Can't seem to help myself.

At 8:38 a.m., Blogger Gattina said...

Seeing your "traveling" with only one "l" really looked very wrong to me but after all your explanations and doubts I checked in my german dictionary and see travel(ling) is written with two Ls. Indeed I have never seen it with only one l. I am in the same case as you I learned "Queens" english and then worked in American companies the result is sometimes a mixture ! Some things I write the american way without even noticing it !

At 8:31 p.m., Blogger judie said...

Don't feel bad. Last night I was watching a talk news program...Chris somebody....and he had a caller from Coral Gables. He pronounced it Corral Gables....hmmmmm, or is it Corrall... or Corall.....oh dear, now see what you've done Philip?


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