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Episode 7 Corrections

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32198.  Thu Nov 17, 2005 5:36 pm Reply with quote

Quaint Idiot wrote:
However there are, of course, a number of words which have dropped out of use in Britain, but not in America. Examples include gotten, Fall (for Autumn) and zee (for the letter zed, for which izzard was also used at one time). So it's no use complaining about 'Americans abusing our language' with these words.

source: OED

and of course Aluminum isn't wrong, it's just the Brits decided to change it to fit nicely and America didn't.
That was the best piece of information out of Bill Bryson's "A Short History of Nearly Everything". How long before then had I winced at the word spoken in an American accent, simply presuming it was just a horrible pronunciation?

As my mother always said- Never assume.

32211.  Thu Nov 17, 2005 9:58 pm Reply with quote

tarzanb - thanks for the query. I don't know that we can prove that Ford never said this, but we're pretty clear that there's no evidence that he did (which is what Stephen said on the show). Try this on your French teacher, and let us know his response:

1) If your teacher asserts that Ford did say such a thing, then it's up to him to produce evidence. By evidence we do not mean repeated second-hand assertions, each quoting the previous one - we mean an original citation: the publication in which he stated it, or the first-hand account of the person who heard him say it.

2) If he won't accept that there's any doubt about it (because his mind is closed to anything other than received opinion, or for some other reason) then direct him to one of the many commentators who point out that there is, in fact, no evidence that Ford ever said this. Here's one you could start with: - the Henry Ford Museum site, which states:
It has never been proven that Henry Ford ever said, "You can paint it any color...,"

3) Draw to his attention the fact that it is not the case that the Model T was available only in black, and then ask him why Ford would have said that it was.

This should give him something to work with, anyway. You could print this post out and give it to him, if you wanted.

Frederick The Monk
32231.  Fri Nov 18, 2005 4:26 am Reply with quote

Go get 'em Flash!

32241.  Fri Nov 18, 2005 5:37 am Reply with quote

Yeah, Flash, fine, but now here's one for you:

1) Have you ever in your life met a teacher who was open to sensible argument?

2) There Is No Item Two.

3) Your teachers are always wrong, young ones: this is a medical fact, and it is all you will ever need to learn at school.

Quaint Idiot
32266.  Fri Nov 18, 2005 8:47 am Reply with quote

ficklefiend wrote:
Aluminum isn't wrong, it's just the Brits decided to change it to fit nicely and America didn't.
I think we both changed it. If I'm not mistaken the word was originally something like Aluum, but I can't check it now as my copy of the OED has been burgled. (It was the compact edition (the full text, but reduced in size), but still quite an achievement to knck it.)

BTW is anybody else listening to Stepen Fry on Radio 4 at the moment, saying we shouldn't wory too much about fine points of language?

32276.  Fri Nov 18, 2005 9:19 am Reply with quote

I found this

1812, coined by Sir Humphry Davy (1778-1829), from L. alumen "alum" (see alum). Davy originally called it alumium (1808), then amended this to aluminum, which remains the U.S. word, but British editors in 1812 further amended it to aluminium, the modern preferred British form, to better harmonize with other element names (sodium, potassium, etc.).

Online Etymology Dictionary

Zaphod Beeblebrox
32283.  Fri Nov 18, 2005 9:26 am Reply with quote

3) Your teachers are always wrong, young ones: this is a medical fact, and it is all you will ever need to learn at school.

Hardeehar. Good stuff :)

32719.  Sat Nov 19, 2005 4:57 pm Reply with quote

thanks Flash,

this shall prove most useful. and yes i know, tearchers, who are they kidding? i will take a lot of enjoyment in shoving this in his face.
he already hates me for no apparent reason, and at least now he'll good grounds for that. he will prob not listen to me so i'll have to do what i always do in a situation like this. print out lots of copies of the page and stick them up all over the school. i will let you know what he does. this could however be bad timing because we have mock french orals and he'll probably give me insanely hard q's like pollitical views on the paris riots or something but sure what the heck it'll give me more to moan about. anyhoo!! i'll let you know the outcome. thanks again Flash


"What good is money if it can't inspire terror in your fellow man?"
C.M. Burns

81822.  Wed Jul 26, 2006 9:47 am Reply with quote

OK, back on the subject of Henry Ford and the "any colour you like" quote. It's been claimed above that there's no evidence he ever said it. However, his autobiography "My Life and Work" ( contains the following:

Therefore in 1909 I announced one morning, without any previous warning,
that in the future we were going to build only one model, that the model
was going to be "Model T," and that the chassis would be exactly the
same for all cars, and I remarked:

"Any customer can have a car painted any colour that he wants so long as
it is black."

(Note the spelling of 'colour', incidentally)

Does this not constitute reasonable evidence that he said it?

81983.  Wed Jul 26, 2006 5:07 pm Reply with quote

On British spellings of 'colour', I recall glancing at a facsimile of the first edition of Encyclopaedia Britannica (first published in 1768, as a part work qi-ly) and seeing an article in it where the spelling was color.

(Of course I refer to British spelling as EB was published in Edingurgh at the time.)

81984.  Wed Jul 26, 2006 5:12 pm Reply with quote

Owen - it certainly looks that way. Thanks for producing a cracking piece of evidence.

I'll just take a moment to type the words "retractions special" and then slip away. I hope tarzanb didn't get expelled or anything.

82249.  Thu Jul 27, 2006 3:41 pm Reply with quote

Cracking stuff, owen.


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