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

Fri Mar 24 04:52:06 UTC 2023

Actually, Webster used “grey” in The American Spelling Book, at least through 1822, the last printing I see on Google Books. It seems that only after the title was changed to The Elementary Spelling Book (in 1829, according to Wikipedia, although the earliest printing I see on Google Books is from 1832) did he start to use “gray.” In neither version did he discuss his reasoning for that particular choice.

John Baker

On Mar 23, 2023, at 8:57 PM, Jonathan Lighter <wuxxmupp2000 at gmail.com> wrote:

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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<http://www.americandialect.org>

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

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

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

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