Your Queries Answered, Part 2

Bewildered on Bay Street asks, ‘Is it “travelled” or ‘traveled”? “focussed” or “focused”?’

In the USA, it would be traveled and traveler; travelled and traveller are more usual in Canada. On the other hand, focused is the better way.

Confounded in Calgary writes, ‘Is it ‘Quebecer’ or ‘Quebecker’?

Traditionally, Quebecker is the correct form, although this is less commonly seen nowadays. Logically, the C in Quebecer should be soft (C followed by E or I generally is, in English), and the E long as a result. You need that K to make it a hard C sound and to keep the short E.

But your humble scribe may be losing the battle on this one.

Embarrassed in Edmonton admits, ‘I’m never sure whether it’s “licence” or “license”.’

Well, it depends what you mean and where you live. In the USA, licence (and practice) are both the noun and verb forms. In the UK, a licence is required for driving, but one is licensed to drive. Your humble scribe would go British on this one.

Related point: US usage demands defense (and offense); on the other side of the Atlantic and (generally) north of the 49th parallel, it’s defence/offence (even though the adjective is defensive/offensive). And while we’re on the subject, don’t say DEE-fence and OH-fence; they really should be pronounced duh-FENCE and off-FENCE.                   

Perplexed on the Pacific enquires, ‘Is there anything wrong with “as per” or just “per”? They seem like useful expressions to me, but I suspect you may disagree.’

Your humble scribe will quote Robert Hartwell Fiske’s Dictionary of Unendurable English on this:

(As) per is commercialese – which is to say, an expression at once hideous and comical – and means nothing more than as or according to.’

Use as usual instead of as per usual; as we discussed for as per our discussion (or per our discussion), as requested instead of (as) per your request.

Troubled in Toronto isn’t sure if it’s OK to refer to ‘the above [or below] paragraph’.

It isn’t, Troubled. These are prepositions or adverbs, not adjectives.

You could say see the passage quoted above [or below], or just see above [or below], but it’s inelegant to talk about the below [or above] passage.

Up next: would

Neil Guthrie (@guthrieneil)

Start the discussion!

Leave a Reply

(Your email address will not be published or distributed)