"dialog" and other -log's

Ben Zimmer bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Tue Jul 12 14:27:59 UTC 2011

On Tue, Jul 12, 2011 at 10:18 AM, Charles C Doyle <cdoyle at uga.edu> wrote:
> I always use the spelling "dialog," and I had never given it much thought until I found myself
> using it in the same sentence with "eclogue."
> The OED marks "dialog" as only a "ME" spelling--even though the appended "draft addition"
> for "dialogue box" gives "dialog box" (from 1984) in one of the two illustrative quotations.  In fact,
> the spelling "dialog box" gets 17 million raw Google hits, versus a mere 2 million for "dialogue box."
> Indeed, the spelling "dialog" is extremely common in post-ME times (like today)--three or four
> times as many raw Google hits as "dialogue"--and the OED should certainly list it as a current
> variant spelling.

The OED does have some catching up to do here. As Charles says,
_dialog_ has been accepted variant of _dialogue_ in American English
for quite some time now. The _-og_ version was originally popularized
in the late 19th century along with other spelling reforms suggested
by the American Philological Association and the American Spelling
Reform Association. A handful of newspaper publishers began enforcing
these changes, notably Joseph Medill of the Chicago Tribune, a
longtime proponent of simplified spelling. When his grandson, Col.
Robert R. McCormick, became publisher of the Tribune, he took up the
mantle with great vigor. Most of the proposed spelling reforms never
found acceptance, but changing _-ogue_ words to _-og_ was one area of
success, with _analog_, _catalog_, and _dialog_ all catching on.
(_Epilog_ and _synagog_ not so much.)


Ben Zimmer

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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