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Jenny
1379750.  Mon Apr 19, 2021 10:23 am Reply with quote

Woodsman just asked me this and I can't describe why this should be so - I'm hoping one of you lot can come up with an explanation (suze - I'm looking at you...)

Most of us are on autopilot about when to double a consonant before adding an ending - hop becomes hopping and hopper and hopped, hope becomes hoping and hoper and hoped.

However, there are exceptions and the one he asked about is the l at the end of signal and at the end of control. He noted that the spellcheck (and this would be an American spellchecker, which makes it worse...) allows controlling and controller with two ls but wants one l for signaler and signaling. My British instinct would be to put two ls in both signaller and signalling, but the spellcheck on these here forums doesn't like that (it doesn't like pinner or piner either, but I guess that would be because those two formulations of pin and pine would seldom crop up).

 
Brock
1379756.  Mon Apr 19, 2021 10:44 am Reply with quote

Jenny wrote:

However, there are exceptions and the one he asked about is the l at the end of signal and at the end of control. He noted that the spellcheck (and this would be an American spellchecker, which makes it worse...) allows controlling and controller with two ls but wants one l for signaler and signaling. My British instinct would be to put two ls in both signaller and signalling, but the spellcheck on these here forums doesn't like that...


American usage is more logical than British here. The general rule for British English (taken from Fowler's Modern English Usage, 4th ed.) is:

"If the last syllable is stressed, words that end with one consonant preceded by one vowel double the consonant on adding -ed, -ing, -er or -est. But words of this class not stressed on the final syllable do not double the last consonant unless the consonant is l or g."

In American usage, l is treated like any other consonant and not doubled if the final syllable is unstressed.

Hence
AmE/BrE: controlling (control stressed on final syllable)
AmE: signaling (signal stressed on first syllable)
BrE: signalling (always double the l regardless of stress).

Hope I've explained that all right! There are a number of other exceptions, but I won't bore you with them here.

 
suze
1379757.  Mon Apr 19, 2021 11:41 am Reply with quote

I think that's about it.

I set out the "rules" for forming simple past tense and past participle forms at post 937545, and Rule #7 from that post covers this difference between Br and NAm forms.

From the discussion before that post I note that Jenny wanted focussed where the "rules" (and most dictionaries) want focused. The form that Jenny preferred would be "irregular", but there are a handful that are.

Kidnapped and worshipped (but not gossiped) are also irregular, although in NAm in particular there is an increasing tendency to - as it were - take the <p> and go regular. If you're Australian and you stress the verb on the second syllable then debuted too is irregular; a verb whose dictionary form ends with a silent <t> is just weird.

It doesn't involve doubling a letter, but the present participle of verbs in -inge is a bit weird too. If it were up to me I'd make the sort of orthographic special case rule that they would in French and spell such participles as, for instance, whinjing. That isn't what happens, and there is no consensus on whether or not there ought to be an <e> in whing(e)ing. It is one of the rather few words which the Daily Telegraph and The Times spell differently. (Most of the others are geographical names for which the DT still insists on 19th century forms. Basle in Switzerland, Bombay in India, Lyons in France, and a handful more.)


Last edited by suze on Mon Apr 19, 2021 11:55 am; edited 1 time in total

 
Brock
1379758.  Mon Apr 19, 2021 11:50 am Reply with quote

What about formatting? It's undoubtedly the dominant form, but it doesn't follow the usual rules, and doesn't usually get listed amongst the exceptions.

As for whing(e)ing, I omit the e, but I get the feeling I'm fighting a losing battle.

 
suze
1379759.  Mon Apr 19, 2021 12:01 pm Reply with quote

If you are, both I and the OED (and indeed The Times) will go down with you!

Format(t)ing is an interesting one. If we mean arranging a document, then I think it's always formatting. It is indeed irregular, but we need the extra <t> to avoid confusion with formating, which is what we do when we fly in formation. (This verb to formate is ugly and it's a back formation from formation, but works on aeronautics really use it.)

 
Brock
1379770.  Mon Apr 19, 2021 2:21 pm Reply with quote

suze wrote:

Format(t)ing is an interesting one. If we mean arranging a document, then I think it's always formatting. It is indeed irregular, but we need the extra <t> to avoid confusion with formating, which is what we do when we fly in formation. (This verb to formate is ugly and it's a back formation from formation, but works on aeronautics really use it.)


I'm finding it hard to think of a context where they might be confused!

It's surprisingly hard to find comprehensive, accurate guides to consonant doubling online. The Free Dictionary has the best one I've found so far, but even that one omits formatting (despite having a specific section on combat(t)ing). It also has a special section on verbs in -fer, yet unaccountably omits one of my great bugbears, transferable (which according to the spelling should be stressed on the first syllable, but is invariably stressed on the second).

They also omit the "exception to the exception" - (un)paralleled (so spelt in BrE because four l's would just look silly).

 
Jenny
1379822.  Tue Apr 20, 2021 9:37 am Reply with quote

Thank you! I knew you guys would sort me out. Yes I do want to double the consonant in worshipping and kidnapping, even though the stress is on the first syllable - possibly because of being on autopilot for shipping and napping.

I think when I see a single consonant my mind wants to lengthen the preceding vowel, so I probably wrote focussing on that basis (and I note that the QI spellcheck allows it both with and without a double s) because otherwise I would hear it as focusing to rhyme with using.

 

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