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Posted: 30 January 2014 05:20 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 31 ]
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Garner labels it “an impishly common misspelling and mispronunciation,” which illustrates Languagehat’s point nicely. It’s considered wrong because people consider it wrong, irregardless of how common it is.

Merriam-Webster is more objective in tone and presents actual evidence, but ultimately with the same result:

A pronunciation \mis-ˈchē-vē-əs\ and a consequent spelling mischievious are of long standing: evidence for the spelling goes back to the 16th century. Our pronunciation files contain modern attestations ranging from dialect speakers to Herbert Hoover. But both the pronunciation and the spelling are still considered nonstandard.

The OED records mischievious from the sixteenth century too and provides a similar usage note, but it gives an etymological justification for the spelling and pronunciation:

The four-syllable pronunciation represented by the β forms probably developed from this variant by analogy: the rare termination /-ˈiːvəs/ , found only in this word and grievous adj., being replaced by the much more frequent /-ˈiːvɪəs/ of devious adj. and previous adj., effectively resulting in the substitution of -ous suffix by -ious suffix.

MWDEU says that mischievious has a “folksy” flavor and can play off devious, which account for a portion of the word’s popularity.

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Posted: 30 January 2014 06:50 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 32 ]
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Mischievious, however, is not considered a variant in many dictionaries, nor is it entered.

Well, exactly.  Why not?

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Posted: 30 January 2014 09:07 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 33 ]
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I understand that aluminium, is a British variant of aluminum

The other way round, Logophile.  “Aluminum” is a North American variant of “aluminium”, which is what almost all the rest of the world (including the i.U.P.A.C.) calls it.

;-)

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Posted: 30 January 2014 11:59 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 34 ]
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languagehat - 30 January 2014 06:50 AM

Mischievious, however, is not considered a variant in many dictionaries, nor is it entered.

Well, exactly.  Why not?

I was hoping you could answer that question.

Dave submitted entries from the OED and the M-W that characterize mischievious as nonstandard.  How much of a range are M-W attestations? Many don’t think Herbert Hoover exemplifies cultivated speech; therefore, I’m curious as to when will (or will it ever) mischievious be established as standard usage.

I’m not nitpicking; I’m just trying to understand how a word is eventually countenanced as standard. Moreover, I’m curious as to the constant distinction between educated speech and nonstandard speech, which for many is considered non-educated.  Will this distinction prevail indefinitely while it seems the preference is for educated speech?

It also seems that the educated subscribers to this forum prefer cultivated speech; my conclusion by the many well-written comments. (By the way mischievious is red lined on this blog, as it is on Microsoft word and the Internet in general.)

I apologize for the circumlocution. I guess my questions boil down to:  Will languages eventually revert to various dialectical usages, or will there always be that constant dichotomy?

I’d appreciate any information, or references, that might help me to clarify the distinctions, thanks in advance.

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Posted: 30 January 2014 12:30 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 35 ]
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lionello - 30 January 2014 09:07 AM

I understand that aluminium, is a British variant of aluminum

The other way round, Logophile.  “Aluminum” is a North American variant of “aluminium”, which is what almost all the rest of the world (including the i.U.P.A.C.) calls it.

;-)

Not according to the American Heritage Dict:  al·u·min·i·um (ăl′yə-mĭnē-əm)
Share: al·u·min·i·um
n.
Chiefly British
Variant of aluminum.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2013 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Wouldn’t the variant apply equally? Regardless, I concur with you, it would seem to be the other way around.

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Posted: 30 January 2014 03:15 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 36 ]
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Logophile - 30 January 2014 12:30 PM

lionello - 30 January 2014 09:07 AM
I understand that aluminium, is a British variant of aluminum

The other way round, Logophile.  “Aluminum” is a North American variant of “aluminium”, which is what almost all the rest of the world (including the i.U.P.A.C.) calls it.

;-)

Not according to the American Heritage Dict:  al·u·min·i·um (ăl′yə-mĭnē-əm)
Share: al·u·min·i·um
n.
Chiefly British
Variant of aluminum.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2013 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Not as simple as it could be.  Quinion says this about aluminum/aluminium.

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Posted: 30 January 2014 11:48 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 37 ]
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I didn’t mean to suggest (heaven forfend!;-) that there’s anything wrong with “aluminum”—only that it’s not a canon, from which the rest of the world derives variants.

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Posted: 31 January 2014 04:06 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 38 ]
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And then there’s this.

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Posted: 31 January 2014 06:44 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 39 ]
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To highlight the especially relevant bit:

In 1808, British chemist Humphry Davy postulated the existence of a metallic form of alumina ore, which he dubbed alumium. From the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of that year:

Had I been so fortunate as...to have procured the metallic substances I was in search of, I should have proposed for them the names of silicium, alumium, zirconium, and glucium.

Davy later changed the name to aluminum. He writes in his 1812 Elements of Chemical Philosophy:

As yet Aluminum has not been obtained in a perfectly free state.

So “aluminium” is in fact (historically) a variant of “aluminum.”

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Posted: 31 January 2014 10:10 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 40 ]
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Glucium, BTW, is an obsolete name for beryllium (as noted by Dave in his Big List entry for that element), based on the sweet taste of many of its salts (yikes!).

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Posted: 31 January 2014 05:09 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 41 ]
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Was Glucium ever used in English?

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Posted: 01 February 2014 03:33 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 42 ]
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That’s glucinum. Also glucina for the oxide, also known as beryllia.

The OED has an entry for it and a handful of nineteenth century citations.

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Posted: 01 February 2014 08:13 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 43 ]
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Dr. Techie - 31 January 2014 10:10 AM

Glucium, BTW, is an obsolete name for beryllium (as noted by Dave in his Big List entry for that element), based on the sweet taste of many of its salts (yikes!).

Yikes indeed, and I’ll throw in a cripes and a crikey too. It’s always astonished me that the tastes of some of the most fearsome of elements are on record and I guess it’s all down to such hardy souls as Carl Wilhelm Scheele (found with a quick google).

Scheele had a bad habit of sniffing and tasting any new substances he discovered. Cumulative exposure to arsenic, mercury, lead, their compounds, and perhaps hydrofluoric acid which he had discovered, and other substances took their toll on Scheele, who died at the early age of 43, on 21 May 1786, at his home in Köping. Doctors said that he died of mercury poisoning

Reading that list of his published papers at the foot of the wiki and the chemicals involved I can only say again, Cripes!

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Posted: 01 February 2014 09:06 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 44 ]
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Back in my chemical weapons days I was told a story (possibly apocryphal, but I suspect that some version of it is true), about Porton Down, the British chemical weapons lab, in the closing days of WWII. A colonel called a chemist into a lab and asked him to sniff a vial and tell him what it smelled like. The chemist did so and didn’t detect an odor. He asked what it was, and the colonel replied, “we don’t know, but it just killed all those rabbits over there,” pointing to a bunch of dead lab animals in cages. A moment later, the chemist noticed that it was getting dark, odd as it was the middle of the afternoon.

The substance turned out to be Sarin nerve agent, captured from German stockpiles. The chemist was undergoing the first symptoms of nerve agent poisoning, one of which is the pinpointing of the pupils, admitting less light into the eye. Fortunately, he hadn’t inhaled enough to be seriously injured, and he recovered in a few hours.

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Posted: 01 February 2014 11:38 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 45 ]
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I don’t for a moment believe that that story’s apocryphal. On the contrary: the fact of its being told at all vouches for its truth. If the chemist had died, the story would never have been told.
The colonel acted according to the lights of his profession (and probably retired, a field-marshal, K.C.B., in the fullness of time); the chemist didn’t. His reply to the colonel (to any senior officer) should have been “after you, sir”.

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