Thursday, May 15, 2008

On Crossing Your Ts

Today, I got really tired of the spell checker in Word bitching at me about my spelling of the word omelette. The spell checker, in its infinite wisdom, wants the word omelet. I added omelette to my personal dictionary so that the spell checker will just shut up.

I have this nagging suspicion that omelet is what they taught us in grade school, but my spelling went to hell as I started studying at first French and then a succession of other languages. I am no longer sure how to spell a lot of words in any language.

What I do know is that if I write omelette in either English text or French text, people understand what I am saying, and that is quite good enough for me.

Almost quite good enough I should have said, for I really do have a deep-seated need to spell things correctly when possible.

So I turned to a couple of American dictionaries and the OED, all of which prefer the spelling omelet. The OED prefers it mainly, I conclude, because omelet antedates omelette by several hundred years. The American dictionaries, I surmise, prefer the shorter spelling simply because it is shorter.

But, I found a different preference in the real world. I went to each of the primary English language Google sites (America, UK, Australia, and Canada [sorry Kiwis!]) and queried both terms, searching the .com, .uk, .au, and .ca pages. As you can see below, the English speaking world seemingly and overwhelmingly prefers omelette, as do I, despite the dictionaries. omelet 2,420,000, omelette 3,390,000 omelet 54,000, omelette 307,000 omelet 22,500, omelette 93,500 omelet 57,900, omelette 103,000

As for teaching you how to make one, by either name, that's not a subject to broach in a blog. While anyone can make an omelette at home, making a great omelette for restaurant service takes the right pan and a lot of practice. You'd better get cracking!

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