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More U.S. examples

Posted by R. Berg on February 19, 2002

In Reply to: Re: Pronunciation posted by The Fallen on February 19, 2002

: : : : I've just posted something here using the past participle of the verb "to benefit" and it's reminded me of an unresolved argument I had many moons ago.

: : : : I'm admittedly both British and a linguist and so therefore undoubtedly obsessive beyond redemption, but every single bone in my body instinctually screams for me to spell the word "benefitted" with two t's. Similarly, were I ever to use the perfect tense of the verb "to target", I'd type "I have targetted" without so much as a second thought simply because without the double "t", the preceding vowel would be pronounced as strong - "kitten" versus "kite", if you like. I am sure there are other multisyllabic verbs ending in a vowel + t which I'd treat similarly.

: : : : What's the general view on this? Two t's or one? Or is it another transatlantic "vive la différence" thing?

: : : It is a transatlantic thing, and not confined to -t. My most recent U.S. dictionary (American Heritage) gives both "kidnaped" and "kidnapped, "shoveled" and "shovelled." The American tendency is not to double the consonant if the accent is on another syllable--at least in book publishing; the New Yorker magazine still doubles ("travelled"). But we double for "outfitted," perhaps under the influence of "fitted," from the monosyllabic "fit."

: : I have difficulty imagining just how the spelling "targeted" would lead you to pronounce the word. The analogy with "kitten" and "kite" suggests a long "e." But "tar-GEET-ed"? Really?

: I've definitely seen the single "t" "targeted" in the USA, though I agree that the pronunciation issue makes it look ridiculous. The other verb that I've just remembered is "to focus". I would ALWAYS use "focussed", but "focused" seems to be more common in the USA - presumably to rhyme with "accused"... :)

"Targeted" doesn't look ridiculous to me. It follows the same rule as "limited."

These are all normal U.S. spellings, from which the guiding principles might be extracted--with exceptions, of course.

(Accent on last syllable of verb; long vowel)
repeating
deleting

(Accent elsewhere; short vowel)
canceling, canceled; BUT cancellation, chancellor
rivaling, rivaled
raveling, raveled
shriveling, shriveled
gladdening, gladdened
fattening, fattened
muttering, muttered
shattering, shattered
counseling, counseled, counselor
bedeviling, bedeviled, bedevilment
(Accent on last syllable; short vowel)
concurring
inferring
occurring
impairing (hmm!)
preferring
permitting
transmitting
committing, committed (BUT commitment)

(Accent elsewhere; long vowel)
mutating
generating
celebrating

(Plurals)
omnibuses
rebuses
crocuses OR croci
foci