Green River Star -

By David Martin

The best way to learn is making mistakes


April 22, 2020

The English language can be tricky.

This is a language that offers different spellings for the same-sounding words. To, two and too, for example. Or there, they’re and their. Add in the fact that each of those six words have their own usage rules and definitions and you can see why English can be so difficult to learn for both native and nonnative speakers.

Then there’s the regional variants for spelling. Think the difference between the British (and Canadian) “flavour” and the American “flavor” or “humour” versus “humor.” According to an article I read on, much of these differences come from how British English favors keeping the foreign roots of many words as opposed to American English’s spellings based on how spoken words sound. In this case, words that end in “yse” in British English end with “ize” in American English., like “analyze” in the U.S. is “analyse” in the U.K.

Last week, I fell on my face when it came to another difference between British and American spelling differences. In a couple of highly visible headlines, I spelled “cancelled,” not “canceled.” I didn’t even catch it until I started posting articles to the newspaper’s website. The same rule impacts the past form of travel -- in British English the word is spelled “travelled” while in the U.S. it lacks the second L.

As I look at those two words, they look perfectly fine. Spell check isn’t underling “cancelled” like it’s angrily flagging “analyse,” “humour,” and “flavour.” According to some sources I’ve read, both spellings are acceptable, however the Associated Press Stylebook plainly identifies “canceled” as the correct form. Interestingly enough, while “canceled” and “canceling”

The only thing a person can do is learn from their mistakes. I felt mildly embarrassed I let such a minor thing slip by. While I write and read thousands of words on a weekly basis, a convenient cop out would be to simply say I do what I can and leave it at that. But, it isn’t that simple. Leaving “cancelled” in two prominent headlines resulted in my palm firmly connecting with my forehead.

Rereading something I wrote to find minor typos after publication leaves me feeling absolutely gutted.

But, the only thing a person can do is work to improve themselves. It’s how anybody thrives in their lives.


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