Anglo-Amer. diff's in style

Posted by R. Berg on September 23, 2001

In Reply to: Bail/bale posted by ESC on September 23, 2001

: : : A correction: Meaning given here is "To remove water from a boat. In military parlance this also means to escape from a damaged plane or other vehicle."

: : : That's the wrong "bale" for the phrase. It's "bail" when talking about bailing out water, or escaping a damaged plane or vehichle. A "bale" is a bundle of goods. To "bale" is to bundle, to make up a bale.

: : Glad that you like the site.

: : I can't completely agree with you about bale/bail. There are at least three meanings of bale/bail out:

: : - To remove water from a boat. Here I think you are right; the bucket used is a 'bail', so bail out is the correct spelling. Bale out is the usual but, as the OED says, "less correct" form that is commonly used in the UK.

: : - To jump out of an aircraft. Here I'm happy with 'bale out', the allusion being to throwing out a bundle or bale rather than decanting water. Again, the OED accepts the alternative of 'bail out', although is a bit snooty about it - "rare form, origin US".

: : - To pay to have someone released from bail. Naturally, this is 'bail out'.

: : : Nice site you have here, and very useful!

: : : Sharon Hoskinson

: The World Book Dictionary (Chicago, 1991) says: "bail - to throw (water) out of a boat, with a pail, a dipper, or any other container...Also, especially British, bale." So, it just another one of those little ways we do things differently.

: Another thing I've noticed, we in the U.S. do quotes and a quote within a quote the opposite way from the British. Don't we? "I heard the boy say, 'I'm going to the movies.'"

Yes, we do. Other differences in typographic conventions: U.S.-ers put the period or comma inside the quotes; U.K.-ers put it outside. It's customary in the U.S. to use a period with abbreviations of persons' titles: Mrs., Mr., Ms., and the like. In the U.K. that period is not used. I don't know whether periods are used in the U.K. with titles like Rev. Dr. or Lt. Col.