Friday, September 02, 2005

A Grammar Sherriff is born

Even before my school friends caught on and dubbed me the Grammar Sherriff, I was a stickler for spelling and grammar. Missing the first couple of words ever (there and their, if I recall correctly) on a first-grade spelling test caused me conisderable alarm. I think I probably alarmed my mother, too, by coming home in tears and refusing to tell her why!

I also recall vividly my first encounter with a British spelling. In third grade or so, I tried reading Sherlock Holmes. In retrospect, I think this particular volume was printed in larger type with pictures for kids, but I don't think it was edited accordingly. At any rate, my reading came abruptly to a standstill when I spied the word "neighbourhood" sliced in half with an unaccustomed British "u". If you have ever gone on reading past a word you didn't know, but failed to absorb anything after it, then you may know the feeling of being jarred out of comprehension. Not knowing better, I was indignant that anyone would let something so blatant go to print.

I suppose I must have heard a British accent on television by then, but nobody had ever told me that the differences carried over into the written word. The extra letter cannot be the only reason, but to this day I have not read very much of Sherlock Holmes.


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