Subject: Re: English in NetBSD (Re: CVS commit: src/usr.bin/mklocale)
To: Reinier Jonker <>
From: Greg 'groggy' Lehey <>
List: current-users
Date: 05/08/2003 11:26:59
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On Tuesday,  6 May 2003 at 19:33:01 +0200, Reinier Jonker wrote:
> On dinsdag, mei 6, 2003, at 06:59 PM, David Young wrote:
>> On Tue, May 06, 2003 at 04:28:36PM +0200, Reinier Jonker wrote:
>>> They are, in fact, the only correct spellings. American is nothing
>>> more than a regional variety. IMHO, the standard spelling and
>>> grammar for an international project should always adhere to
>>> British Standard English.
>> Reinier, you seem to take the old-fashioned view that language is
>> always on decline, so it is desirable to privilege older, "original"
>> forms over the new. Thus American is a mere "regional variety" while
>> British English is "the Standard." Is your intention different?
> It is. English is a single language. There are a lot of people around
> the world who speak English. However, the language isn't called
> American, Australian or South-African. It's called English. England is
> the country where the language originated and where it is still used.
> It seems reasonable to me that the way English people use the language
> should be the standard. Aside from that, there are much more people who
> speak English than American.

All languages are subject to continual change.  Most people can't
understand the language of Chaucer (in fact, the Canterbury Tales
contain examples of different dialects, but who can recognize them?).
The English each of you are talking about is simply a snapshot of an
evolving language, one which has been treated badly by history.  Old
English is closer to modern German than old German is.  Take a look at for a perspective.

> I think an international project working in English should adhere to
> British English, just like an international French-language project
> should be according to French and not Canadian standards.

I think an international project should be free to choose which
language to use.

FWIW, in the FreeBSD project we used to have the rule that either
British or American spelling (and implicitly punctuation) was
acceptable, and that there should be no reason to change either.  I
think that that has now changed, and American spelling is the
preferred choice.  This although the docmeister is (British) English.

Personally, I'm not happy about that.  In my books, I make my own
choice between British and Australian usage, but use some American
punctuation (notably "" instead of '' for quoted text).  But that's
not the issue when it comes to project decisions.

>>> It doesn't seem logical to me, since 'and' effectively replaces
>>> the comma.

That's a typographical convention.

>>> (Actually, it's the other way round. In Latin, where no comma
>>> exists, "and" was placed between all members of the list)

In classical Latin, as in Sanskrit, the preferred form for "and" was
postfix "que" ("ka" in Sanskrit).  Compare "Senatus Populusque
Romanus" with "Senatus et Populus Romanus".

>> I think that I see where you're coming from, now....
> No, I don't want to revert to Latin! ;-)

Ah, but which form of Latin?  The classical Latin of Caesar, the
vulgar Latin of the same period, ecclesiastical Latin or maybe
something else again?

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