H.L. Mencken (18801956). The American Language. 1921.
1921 the Association formally withdrew from the campaign.39 But even so long a list is not enough for the extremists. To it they add various miscellaneous new spellings: aker, anser, burlesk, buro, campain, catar, counterfit, delite, foren, forfit, frend, grotesk, iland, maskerade, morgage, picturesk, siv, sorgum, sovren, spritely, tuch, yu and yung. The reader will recognize some of these as surviving inventions of Webster. But though all such bizarre forms languish, the twelve spellings adopted by the National Education Association in 1898 are plainly making progress, especially tho and thru. I read many manuscripts by American authors, and find in them an increasing use of both forms, with the occasional addition of altho, thoro and thoroly. The spirit of American spelling is on their side. They promise to come in as honor, bark, check, wagon and story came in many years ago, as tire,40 esophagus and theater came in later on, and as program, catalog and cyclopedia came in only yesterday. The advertisement writers seem to be even more hospitable than the authors. Such forms as vodvil, burlesk, foto, fonograf, kandy, kar, holsum, kumfort, sulfur, arkade, kafeteria and segar are not infrequent in their writings. At least one American professor of English predicts that these forms will eventually prevail. Even fosfate and fotograf, he says, are bound to be the spellings of the future.41 Meanwhile the advertisement writers and authors combine in an attempt to naturalize alright, a compound of all and right, made by analogy with already and almost. I find it in American manuscripts every day, and it not seldom gets into print.42 So far no dictionary supports it, but it has already migrated to England and
Note 39. See the Weekly Review, July 16, 1921, p. 47. [back]
Note 40.Tyre was still in use in America in the 70s. It will be found on p. 150 of Mark Twains Roughing It: Hartford, 1872. [back]
Note 42. For example, in Teepee Neighbors, by Grace Coolidge; Boston, 1917, p. 220; Duty and Other Irish Comedies, by Seumas OBrien; New York, 1916, p. 52; Salt, by Charles G. Norris; New York, 1918, p. 135, and The Ideal Guest, by Wyndham Lewis, Little Review, May, 1918, p. 3. OBrien is an Irishman and Lewis an Englishman, but the printer in each case was American. I find allright, as one word but with two ls, in Diplomatic Correspondence with Belligerent Governments, etc., European War, No. 4; Washington, 1918, p. 214. [back]