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Thursday, May 10, 2012

Word Play

Writers love words, there's no doubt about that. The shades of meaning, the rhythm, the music of a sentence--all beautiful things. Words and grammar do get discussed with regular frequency on writers' loops.

Which leads me to dreamed versus dreamt. I always use dreamt. It sounds better to my ear, but I've had copy editors change it to dreamed. This was a while ago, easily more than a year what with my move and all interfering with the writing, but it's still something I think about from time to time and turn over in my head.

The other day, I decided to do an internet search and find out which was correct. I discovered that dreamt is considered British English and dreamed American English.

This led to a new question--where did I pick up a preference for the British past tense of this one word. I say spilled, not spilt and learned not learnt--other British usage of -t in place of -ed. The only thing I can think of is that Minnesota (where I grew up) is close to Canada and Canadians have stayed truer to British English.

I have another British thing I do--I spell theater as theatre. Not for every theater. I use it this way: movie theater, but I go to see a play at the theatre. I have no idea why I do this. I don't use -re in any other word. If I ever write the sentence: "She dreamt she saw "Guys and Dolls" at the theatre," I'd probably make a copy editor grit her teeth.