13 December 2015

Here comes that schoolmaster again ...

 ... irascibly to make clear that, from this point onwards, I will not consider comments which spell "supersede" as "supercede". The word comes from the Latin super + sedeo. Perhaps a contrary orthography has grown up in North America; some years ago now I found the incorrect spelling in something I was reviewing by an American Orthodox writer who was edging her way towards favouring the 'ordination' of women. But ...

... don't bother to tell me that languages evolve; because this Edict is final. Don't evolve on this blog. Go away and evolve instead on Dr Kirk's blog Ignatius His Conclave ... which, incidentally, is in strikingly good form at the moment. Dr Kirk, formerly Anglican Vicar of a South London Parish, is a fellow member of the Ordinariate. Vivamus. Vivemus.

(Tomorrow, Deo volente, the final two pieces of my series on Nostra aetate.)


Bruvver Eccles said...

Should we not refer to 'weblogs' rather than 'blogs', Father? 'Blog' seems to smack of modernism.

Pelerin said...

I fear we are fighting a losing battle against the creeping American spelling and Americanisms here.

Only this week I noticed the appearance of the word 'color' on a local pub menu and the Daily Mail website persists in writing 'sidewalk' and 'bathroom' when they should be writing 'pavement' and 'public conveniences or toilets.' The use of the word 'bathroom' when they don't mean a bathroom at all (surely a bathroom should always contain a bath?) always makes me smile and reminds me of the story of an American arriving at a Paris railway station (not 'train station') and enquiring in English where the bathroom was. He was horrified to be told he would have to wait until he reached his hotel in London!

Unknown said...

Will you also ban those who use the spelling "favorite" instead of "favourite"? What about "center" instead of "centre"? Or "realize" instead of "realise"?

William said...

Unknown: The spellings you give are known dialectal variants, unlike the spelling which has roused Father's ire and which is as firmly deprecated by US- as by UK-based dictionaries.

Thomas said...

At work I constantly change folders on the shared server that have been wrongly titled "Superceded" to the correct spelling. Someone even tried to tell me that I was wrong about this! So I too pointed out that the etymology and idea of the word is 'that which sits above' (and therefore pushes everything else down the list), and just got a cross-eyed look. This is quite a different issue from American versus British spelling conventions.

On the main substantive issue, I found your piece very interesting and useful, Father. However, I would also appreciate your thoughts on the apparent contradiction in the Vatican document where it seems to suggest that God's original chosen people somehow do not need to recognise Jesus as Lord and Saviour in order to be redeemed, even though that remains central to Christian doctrine.

Jacobi said...


Banshee said...

It would appear that "Supercede has occurred as a spelling variant of supersede since the 17th century" (as Merriam Webster says), so you can't blame the US for this one.

But it's still "supercessionism," right?

[looks it up]

Hmm. Apparently it really is "supersessionism," which explains a lot about the huge number of 'spelling errors' in that N.T. Wright book I was just reading.

Well, this isn't going to be worse than finding out that I had been supposed to be fasting on Friday for my entire adult life, but it is going to require some determined retraining of my spelling brain.

William Tighe said...

"Perhaps a contrary orthography has grown up in North America"

nopt in this case, in my experience; it is a mere "ignorantism," wherever it appears.

And, by the way, twice in the last year I have seen here in the States an "ignorantism" which hitherto I had thought uniquely English: the apostrophaic plural (as in "Apple's, a dozen for a pound)

Cherub said...

Well, Father, that's what you say. But you may wish to consider another point of view: Does the spelling derive from the Middle English superceden, and from the Middle French, superceder? The 'c' spelling goes back to the 1400s. It may need to be conceded that the spellings are option with favoured standard English being supersede. Is this really a big enough issue for you to act as the 'school master'? We are not children who read your blog. We are adults, and very much enjoy your contributions to our learning. But on this one I think you may have gone a bit far banning good people who can spell, even if their choice of spelling in this instance, justifiable and all as it is, does not accord with your personal prferences.

From Middle English superceden, from Middle French superceder, from Latin supersedere: super- ‎(“over-”) + sedere ‎(“to sit”).
supercede ‎(third-person singular simple present supercedes, present participle superceding, simple past and past participle superceded)
Misspelling of supersede.  [quotations ▼]
Usage notes[edit]
The form supercede is commonly considered a misspelling of supersede, since it results from confusion between Latin cedere ‎(“give up, yield”) and sedere ‎(“to sit”).[1] The original Latin word was supersedere ‎(“to sit above”), but the ‘c’ spelling began to be used in Middle French, appeared in English as early as the 1400s, and is still sometimes found. The fact that supersede is the only English word ending in sede, while several end in cede, also encourages confusion.
Most dictionaries do not include this spelling; a few list it as a variant, sometimes identified as a misspelling.[2] A search of general dictionaries at Onelook All Dictionaries finds 4 instances of "supercede" excluding this one (with one flagged as misspelling), and 24 of "supersede".

John said...

Nostalgia. I once had a professor who had a set spiel when handing out examination papers. It ended with ". . . and, no, neatness does not "count", per se, but if I can't read it you won't get any marks for it and there is no c in supersede."

geneticallycatholic said...

Pelerin, your reference to sidewalks and pavements brings to mind a bumper sticker I saw in Canada: 'If you don't like my driving, get off the sidewalk', - In Canada and the U.S., as you point out, sidewalk refers to a paved path for pedestrians at the side of a road.

I thought it apt therefore, during a visit to Broadstairs, Kent, England - where cars, due to the narrow streets, were partially driven on the sidewalk (North American meaning), to quote the bumper sticker to my host. The response was a blank stare. It was only then I learned that sidewalk in Britain, is referred to as a pavement.

So much for my attempt at humour. ...

Pelerin said...

Cherub - I think the good Priest and blogmaster has his tongue firmly in his cheek! Incidentally I think I have managed to live for 72 years without ever having had the occasion to write the word supersede.

Regarding spelling mistakes I am always astonished how many there are in comments on newspaper websites. The difference between 'there' and 'their' was drummed into us when young but it would appear that many people today constantly use the wrong one in their comments. I once saw a comment which was just under four lines long and it managed to contain 6 spelling mistakes and these were not even typos. And of course the 'Greengrocers' Apostrophe' is everywhere to be seen today. (Oops sorry I think that's a split infinitive!)

Unknown said...

Ha! @William Tighe "Apple's?" I can beat that! Once last year in rural Mississippi i asked for the key to the mens restroom at a service station. The clerk handed me the key on which was attached a label that read " Mens'es".... But who am i to Judge ? The best explanation for the curious ways of the American South i found in an excellent book " Albions seed" Four British folkways in America, by David Hackett Fischer.. Great book

Pelerin said...

One of the strangest spelling mistakes I have ever seen occurred in a comment I saw written on an internet website. The word was 'obcicule' and it was not until I read it out loud that I realised what it was meant to be.

Sue Sims said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sue Sims said...

Sorry: previous extra lines eliminated.

I can't post pictures here, alas, but can't resist sharing the wording on a poster outside a local shop. It's a version of the greengrocer's (or greengrocers') apostrophe mentioned by Dr Tighe above - something ubiquitous here in Britain - but with added sophistication:


However, I grant that it isn't as spectacular as Mens'es. That's wonderful.

A limerick:

A tiresome a young blogger of Leeds
Typed 'supersedes' as 'supercedes'.
When corrected, he said:
"I'll lay down on my bed -
And practice* as long as it kneads."

*Just in case any US readers are unaware: this is incorrect in British English orthography, where only the noun ends -ice.