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Alright
Posted: 23 March 2007 02:13 PM   [ Ignore ]
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The AHD sums it up well:

Is it all right to use alright? Despite the appearance of alright in the works of such well-known writers as Flannery O’Connor, Langston Hughes, and James Joyce, the merger of all and right has never been accepted as standard. This is peculiar, since similar fusions like already and altogether have never raised any objections. The difference may lie in the fact that already and altogether became single words back in the Middle Ages, whereas alright (at least in its current meaning) has only been around for a little over a century and was called out by language critics as a misspelling. You might think a century would be plenty of time for such an unimposing spelling to gain acceptance as a standard variant, and you will undoubtedly come across alright in magazine and newspaper articles. But if you decide to use alright, especially in formal writing, you run the risk that some of your readers will view it as an error, while others may think you are willfully breaking convention.

http://www.bartleby.com/64/C003/023.html

Every style guide I know considers it non-standard, but I can’t think of any logical arguments against it. It would make sense to distinguish ‘the answers are all right’, meaning every one is correct, from ‘the answers are alright’, referring to responses to a series of questions where there are no correct or incorrect answers — for example, at an interview — meaning that they would be acceptable. In a similar way ‘altogether’ differs from ‘all together’ and ‘already’ differs from ‘all ready’.

Given that it would be a useful distinction, has been around for a while and has been used by respected authors, how long will it be before it is considered standard, if ever? I’ll have to continue to ‘correct’ it, but I can find no rational reason for regarding it as non-standard — apart from the irrational and unanswerable one that it has been so decreed by the style guide.

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Posted: 23 March 2007 10:32 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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I don’t like it, and I blame Fowler and his ilk for my prejudice. I’m sure it will one day be acceptable - but how long is a piece of string?  With the popularity of texting, may be itll soon be alrite to spell things anyway u want. 

1926 H. W. FOWLER Mod. Eng. Usage 16/1 There are no such forms as all-right, allright, or alright, though even the last, if seldom allowed by the compositors to appear in print, is often seen..in MS.

OED on alrite

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Posted: 24 March 2007 01:21 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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It seams noone can right good any more, butt thats alright by me, as long as I can unnerstan it.

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Posted: 24 March 2007 08:27 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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My comments can be found here.

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Posted: 24 March 2007 10:49 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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An excellent discussion, Dave!

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Posted: 24 March 2007 12:26 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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I thought so, too, until I got to the line, ‘And perhaps the most important factor in determining whether alright is acceptable or not is that the Microsoft spell checker does not flag it as an error.’ I realise it’s somewhat tongue in cheek, but that poor little thing has only recently learnt to spell liaise.

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Posted: 25 March 2007 12:09 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Yes, but it’s rapidly becoming the supreme arbiter on spelling for the general public, so I suppose it will be a gradual decline for British spellings like licence, realise, colour etc.

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Posted: 25 March 2007 05:20 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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There’s a UK version of MS spellcheck.

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Posted: 25 March 2007 06:03 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Yes, but AFAIK it’s not the default setting.

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Posted: 25 March 2007 06:32 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Depends on where you buy your computer. Computers sold in the UK should have the British set as the default. The version of Windows sold in the UK and Europe is slightly different from the US version.

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Posted: 25 March 2007 09:24 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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I have worked in three different companies in the UK that have all had a problem with the spellchecker in Word: it switches from British to American English at random intervals, sometimes within the same document. It seems to be a fairly common problem with networked computers, to judge from my experience, and it’s <expletive deleted> infuriating.

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Posted: 25 March 2007 11:22 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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I could easily be out of date here as the most recent version of Windows I’ve had “from new” is 98. After that I switched to Linux, which, it has to be said, is no better in this regard or perhaps worse.  The spell checker in my e-mail client doesn’t even offer a en-UK option unless you go and download same from the internet.

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Posted: 26 March 2007 06:39 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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I believe that spell checker preference is also encoded in word documents. So that a document created on a machine with the US version as the default will retain that default. I’ve seen the same behavior with font sets and I’m guessing that it applies to spell check as well.

(I can’t believe that I’m defending Microsoft’s products. They make crap software.)

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Posted: 26 March 2007 09:26 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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kurwamac - 23 March 2007 02:13 PM

Every style guide I know considers it non-standard, but I can’t think of any logical arguments against it. It would make sense to distinguish ‘the answers are all right’, meaning every one is correct, from ‘the answers are alright’, referring to responses to a series of questions where there are no correct or incorrect answers — for example, at an interview — meaning that they would be acceptable. In a similar way ‘altogether’ differs from ‘all together’ and ‘already’ differs from ‘all ready’.

What you write is well taken, and illustrates that many of the arguments behind prescriptive usage advice are mere rationalization.  It is conventional in the genre to profess love and support for fine distinctions, and to judge additions to the language accordingly.  Were this true, these people would be cheering on “alright” as having a fine distinction from “all right”.  They would still be decrying its misuse, but this would be when one form was used when the rule called for the other.  Writers insisting on always using “all right” and citing its history would be dismissed along with users of restrictive “which” relative clauses.

Why hasn’t this happened?  My uncharitable take on it is because writers of usage advice rarely actually think about language and aren’t much interested in it.  They are merely repeating the bad advice of their predecessors and don’t know or care about the real issues, their ideological rationalizations notwithstanding.  But that’s just me.

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Posted: 26 March 2007 10:07 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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No, I’m with you, and that’s very well put.

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Posted: 26 March 2007 10:21 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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I’ve previously expressed my preference for making a distinction in usage of the sort that Richard describes, so I trust I won’t be taken for a hidebound reactionary if I point out that writers of usage advice sometimes have to be descriptivists about prescriptivism, so to speak.  People read usage manuals because, among other reasons, they don’t want their writing to contain what will be seen as errors.  A writer of usage advice might feel that there is nothing wrong with “alright”, but if he is scrupulous he will have to warn his readers that there are still significant numbers of people who consider it an error, and that the teacher, editor, or potential employer that the reader might be writing for (or to) could be one of them.

[ Edited: 26 March 2007 10:35 AM by Dr. Techie ]
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