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3 Comments

  • Looking at google.hu there appears to be great confusion in Hungary even about the spelling of the Hungarian word. The correct spelling is ‘millennium’ (so with two m’s as in English). The adjectival form, however, is ‘millenáris’ (= millennial in English) spelled with a single ‘n’.

  • This raises the interesting question (for dictionary-makers) of when something stops being “a common misspelling” and simply becomes one of the regular ways of spelling the word (and thus gets a dictionary entry). I’m thinking of “minuscule”, where the alternative spelling “miniscule” is now so common that it may be misleading to class it as an error. In Macmillan’s own corpus of 1.7 billion words, the “correct” spelling is only marginally more frequent than the alternative: minuscule=778 examples, miniscule = 634.

  • Miniscule obviously gains its credibility from the prefix “mini-” which occurs at the start of a large number of words in English, while “minu” doesn’t. Of course, minuscule is formed from the adjective “minus” (not “minu”) and the suffix “culus” (not “sculus”), but most of us are unaware of the exact etymologies of the words we use.

    Some dictionaries, such as the American Heritage, already hold “miniscule” as a variant of “minuscule” with no comment on the correctness or othwerwise of the variant spelling.

    The word used to be stressed on the second syllable, so the “u” was more apparent in the pronunciation. John Wells’ Pronunciation Dictionary still records this second-syllable stress as a variant. The “u” would also be more apparent in the pronunciation of the derived form “minuscular”, although this seems to be a word found only in dictionaries and not in either the Macmillan corpus nor in real life.