[Ads-l] Chat GPT on "gray" versus "grey"

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM
Fri Mar 24 00:56:21 UTC 2023

I doubt that Noah would have spelled it "favour" either.


On Thu, Mar 23, 2023 at 6:41 PM Ben Zimmer <bgzimmer at gmail.com> wrote:

> It's easy enough to establish that these quotes are as bogus as any other
> ones that ChatGPT generates. If they were real, then any phrase would show
> up in a search on Google Books or Internet Archive, but they don't. AFAIK,
> Noah Webster never held forth on the "gray" vs. "grey" distinction even if
> he did give "gray" preferential treatment in his dictionaries and spellers.
> --Ben
> On Thu, Mar 23, 2023 at 4:46 PM Ben Yagoda <byagoda at udel.edu> wrote:
> > For a book based on my blog Not One-Off Britishisms (
> > notoneoffbritishisms.com), I have been looking into the two spellings
> > “gray” (mostly American) and “grey” (mostly British, though gaining in
> the
> > U.S., probably due in part to “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Fifty Shades of
> Grey”).
> > I’ve been experimenting with ChatGPT and asked it about Noah Webster’s
> > treatment of the spelling of the word. It provided me, among other
> > information, with two quotes:
> >
> > "Here's a quote from Noah Webster's 'An American Dictionary of the
> English
> > Language' (1828) about the spelling of ‘gray': 'The common color of
> animals
> > of the mouse kind is gray in America and grey in England. This difference
> > of orthography renders it desirable to fix the orthography of this
> language
> > on this point. In America, the spelling gray is most common in reputable
> > authors, and is uniform in the best writings from the first settlement of
> > the country. It has therefore a claim to preference. But usage, though
> not
> > uniform, is in favor of grey in England, and this reason seems to give
> it a
> > preference in a general system of the language.'
> >
> > "Here's another quote from Noah Webster's 'The American Spelling Book'
> > (1783), where he favored the spelling ''gray' over ‘grey': 'The first
> > [spelling] is American, and the other English. The sound of the word is
> in
> > favour of the former; and analogy requires us to adopt the latter. But
> > custom, or long established use, has rendered it proper in England to
> write
> > grey. In America, however, we write gray.’”
> >
> > They’re great quotes, but the problem is I don’t trust them. In my brief
> > experience with the chatbot, it’s provided me with some useful
> information,
> > but in other cases it offers up bullshit. When challenged, it sometimes
> > backs down, and sometimes doubles down. I have been unable to find these
> > quotes in online versions of these texts, and when I asked Chat GPT to
> > provide page numbers or links, it said it wasn’t able to do so, for
> reasons
> > that sounded suspicious to me.
> >
> > In any case, if anyone has insight or information about the provenance or
> > accuracy of the two quotes, I would be grateful.
> >
> > Ben
> >
> >
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

"If the truth is half as bad as I think it is, you can't handle the truth."

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