All right. Now, I understand.

Benjamin Barrett gogaku at IX.NETCOM.COM
Wed Jan 2 05:14:13 UTC 2013

On Jan 1, 2013, at 7:08 PM, Wilson Gray <hwgray at> wrote:

> On Tue, Jan 1, 2013 at 9:19 PM, Benjamin Barrett <gogaku at> wrote:
>> Did you see the part of my post that had an OED citation of "caldron" back to the fifteenth century?
> Yes. But, is it your contention that "caldron" has been in common use
> as an alternate spelling of "cauldron" since forever, so that the
> sudden decision of many publications, including the New York Times, to
> standardize on "caldron" after 600 years is a totally-expected
> development, exactly like the shift of the old meaning of _vagina_ to
> "the entirety of the female genitalia"? I saw that one coming, way
> back in the 'Forties, During The War..

I don't know, but it seems reasonable, particularly since searching on "caldron" works on the online OED (not the case with all spellings), and because Wiktionary lists it as an alternative spelling. Also, searching on "caldron" in Google Books between 1800 and 1950 results in at least 55 pages of hits.

>> Or the part where I said I pronounce it as /ah/ (my general realization of ɔ)?
> How does this account for the shift in the New York Times stylebook
> from the use of _cauldron_ to the use of _caldron_"?

I doubt that the NYT stylebook addresses such minor issues as spelling other than something like "spellings in the X, Y and Z dictionaries are acceptable."

I'm not convinced there has been a shift, but it seems reasonable that anyone who writes "caldron" (probably more likely if they have my accent) would have it accepted because it is in the OED.

> IAC, my now-lost original point is that I once wondered why it is that
> Commonwealth English continues to use spellings like "armour." Now, I
> see "cauldron" replaced by "caldron, even in the NYT - likewise, the
> simple elimination of a single letter - and I'm annoyed by that.
> Therefore, I have a clearer understanding of why the _-our_ spelling
> is maintained. A whimsical shift to _-or_, simply because it's
> obviously the way to go, if American spelling is your standard, would
> annoy a lot of people, to the clear benefit of no one.

I think it was in 2011 or 2012 that the UK educational system began to allow US spellings. Portugal also accepts spellings of its former colony, Brazil. To me, it seems unlikely that the mother country of a language would adopt bastardizations of its former colonies, but clearly it does happen.

Benjamin Barrett
Seattle, WA

The American Dialect Society -

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