Tuesday, November 6, 2007

November 6, 2007 - Supris* (for Surprise)

Election Day is the day we find out whether this year's "October Surprise" was sufficient in its shock and awe to swing some undecided voters. I wasn't too surprised to see five instances of Supris* in my library catalog, though I was a bit more alarmed at the 97 results revealed by OhioLINK. Here is an example of a word so routinely mispronounced (cf. "beserk" for berserk) that it simply leads many people to write it the way it sounds. One thing that did surprise me was when I recently discovered that the Merriam-Webster online dictionary lists surprize as an acceptable variant. (It was a common form of the word in the 1700s, which may be inferred from the 209 examples in OhioLINK.) While the Brits tend in general to favor zed-less spelling, Americans often prefer their zees. There are complicated rules governing this, but in short, according to Everything2.com: "... There are only about four words where -ize is obligatory, viz prize, size, assize, and capsize." (Kinder Surprise pic from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

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