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Re: Don Quixote lives!

Posted by Word Camel on February 20, 2002

In Reply to: Re: Rebel Without A Clue posted by The Fallen on February 20, 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

: : : : : : : : Okay now R. Berg's examples have got me thinking. Yes there's clearly the usual US / UK divide here, but it's a little more complex than that. In the UK, we would *always* double the final "L" in the cases of cancel, ravel, rival, shrivel, bedevil and so on. This would seem to show a little more consistency, as is noted with the examples of cancellation, chancellor etc. As I previously posted, we'd always go for "benefitted" and certainly "kidnapped" too - Robert Louis Stevenson lends his weight to the latter of those two examples.

: : : : : : : : As for -er and -en constructs, yes the point is well made - we'd never double those final consonants up either.

: : : : : : : : However -vowel +t is proving a little trickier to define even a guideline for. I'm still sticking with "targetted" as just feeling more correct over here, but the quoted example of "limited" is an excellent one - we'd spell it exactly that way. I think that it may be the exception to the rule though, because I'll throw back any verb from the Latin root "mittere" - all of which would double the final "t"... "permitted" "submitting" and so on.

: : : : : : : : As for "focussing", again I have to go on instinct. Perhaps it'd be relevant to draw attention to the adjective "pussy", meaning full of pus? I'm not sure. The plural of "omnibus" is indeed "omnibuses", so Bob is probably right to highlight the difference between "busing" and "bussing". The former just rings all sorts of visual alarm bells with me when I look at the letters - plus of course I'd far rather be doing the latter.

: : : : : : : More words for formulating a guideline: interpret, (dis)credit, debit, hotfoot, (dis)quiet, solicit, surfeit, forfeit, profit, intuit, fidget, buffet, exhibit, deposit, ricochet, (dis)inherit. All end in "t" preceded by a short vowel but not in "mit," the accent is earlier in the word, and the "t" isn't doubled--not here, anyway.

: : : : : :
: : : : : : Also marketing. A Yahoo search gave 5000 web pages for "marketting", but 15 million for "marketing".

: : : : : : psi

: : : : : You're right. We'd never double those "t's" either. So maybe mittere-based words are the exception, and not the rule. I'd still always type "targetted" though, because it still just *feels* right.

: : : : : Oh, we'd NEVER use the verb "to intuit". It's a disgrace and shouldn't exist, a little like "to liaise" :)

: : : : The Oxford Engl. Dict. is a British source, as if anyone needed to be reminded.

: : : : Under TARGET as a verb, it has a Scottish example using the participle, "To be targetted through . . . the . . . newspapers and executed afterwards in effigy" , and an American example, "The crews of both trains claim to have had the crossing targeted" .
: : : : The OED has an entry for TARGETER, so spelled, but this obsolete word is so old that the examples come from Wyclif, who spelled its plural "tergeteris" in one place and "tergeters" in another.
: : : : Also an entry for TARGETING, so spelled, obsolete; defined as "work consisting of targets; targetlike trimmings of women's dresses." In the quotations, spelled "targatting" and "targetting" .

: : : : Under BENEFIT, the OED says "Pa. t. and pple. benefited." Indeed, all the examples using the pa. t. or the pple. have a single "t." 1549: "Ye be not so much worthie as to be benefited in some kinde." 1644 (Milton): "To tell you therefore what I have benefited herein." 1792: "The cause of humanity would be far more benefited by the continuance of the trade." 1879: "A system of duties which injures our interests without benefiting those of the colonies." 1884: "One who has never directly or indirectly benefited a single shilling by any humble efforts he may have put forth."
: : : : There are also separate entries for BENEFITER (one example, 1883, with double "t") and BENEFITING (one example, 1594, with single "t").

: : : : To summarize: Grandma OED reports historical examples of "targetting" but not "benefitted." When she writes those words herself, the "t" is single.

: : : Benefited with one t? Not even the solace of finding that "targetted" is more usual can make up for my heartbreak at finding "benefited" with only one t - that's one sacred cow whose loss has totally bemused me. However, many thanks for your info - I can't even begin to carp at your source.

: : : If I may be so bold, and since I don't have access to a copy currently ... what does the OED say for "focus"?

: : As a noun: "Pl. 'foci'; also 'focuses,' in England usually written irregularly 'focusses.'"

: : As a verb: "Pples. 'focused,' '-ing'; in England commonly, but irregularly, written 'focussed,' 'ing.'"

: : (I'm not making this up. But it does sound as if she'd been expecting your visit.)

: : She also has separate entries for FOCUSABLE, FOCUSED, FOCUSER, and FOCUSING

: Once again, I am grateful for your efforts. I can now rest easy that I have at least some justification in using "focussed". In an idle moment, and using Psi's quick straw poll method as described above, I googled both "benefitted" versus "benefited" and "benefitting" against "benefiting". Not that this compares at all to the sacrosanct OED, but the results are closer than you might think:-

: Benefitted @ 127,000 (14%) vs Benefited @ 804,000 (86%)

: Benefitting @ 72,000 (16%) vs Benefiting @ 389,000 (84%)

: Even though I now *know* I'll be wrong, I just have to keep on using the double t in this word, and stand fast with the other 15%. Ironically enough, the first Google entry on "benefitted" was the title of a recently published paper from the US (!!!) House of Representatives entitled "How the White House Energy Plan Benefitted (sic) EnRon". How unlike the legislature to be wrong, huh?

Sorry. I just couldn't resist. :)