I saw it again this week posted on a classroom door while I was heading to class, “Class cancelled today.”
Note to self: Look it up…again…how to spell “cancelled”.
And then again, on Saturday morning around 10:20 D1 texted me from the second to the first floor and sleepily asked, “Was the showing canceled today?” She had spent the night with us to help me be sure the house would be straightened up for this weekend’s showings, the first one scheduled at 10:00. D1 was an English major, born and raised in TX. I noted she preferred “canceled.”
I called her back to answer. “Yes, dear, that’s why I wasn’t running around the house calling out a minute by minute showing countdown. Go ahead and sleep in.”
I had received a text from Showings.com (or some such) around 8:30 “We have CANCELLED (their caps, not mine) the apt. on Sat (no period) 2/15 @ 10:00.”
Back to my Note to self. From Grammar in Context, by Sandra N. Elbaum, here’s a rule regarding spelling the -ing ending in a two-syllable word and extends to -ed words that end in consonant, vowel, consonant. Double the final consonant only if the last syllable is stressed.
For example: refer becomes referred
admit becomes admitted
rebel becomes rebelled
control –> controlled
propel –> propelled
And, here’s a rule when the last syllable of a multi-syllable word is not stressed. Do not double the final consonant.
For example: listen –> listened
open –> opened
offer –> offered
limit –> limited
develop –> developed
Therefore, following these American rules, the -ed spelling of cancel is canceled.
Note: In varieties of English from outside the U.S., including Canadian, British, and Australian English, cancelled and cancelling are the preferred spellings. [Case in point, note preferred] “Cancellation” is the spelling for the noun in all varieties of English.
As our global world becomes smaller and smaller, it seems that “cancelled” has not only penetrated but permeated our American English. The same goes for “traveled”, “traveling”, “travelled” and “travelling”. My wp spell check wants me to correct “travelled” and “travelling” however, it does not check me on “cancelled.”
It is not my intent to be the grammar police, but only from time to time I think it is useful and desirable to brush up my spelling. First and foremost, I want to read my blogging friends’ stories, thoughts and opinions, how you construct them without specific attention to the grammar or spelling. An anathema to both? Perhaps.
Recently, as I went through old letters written by my Dutch father and grandmother, I remembered the spelling errors (not specifically the ones pertaining to the words mentioned above). It was in those letters that I received in my younger years, I was gifted an important insight. Although, I had grown up with two languages: Spanish and English, they had grown up with more: Dutch, Spanish, French, English, and in the case of my grandmother German, too. Considering English came fourth in their acquisition of languages, I have nothing to critique here, but am filled with admiration.
With that humbling knowledge I have kept my thoughts or comments regarding
their spelling in check and I encourage my students to spell the best they can favoring a more holistic rubric, including other criteria in addition to mechanics.
Oh, English is challenging. I still remember my grandmother Moesje laugh until there were tears in her eyes when my dad shared with her this poem written by a Dutch writer. Although it doesn’t deal with spelling, it certainly magnifies the degrees of difficulty in not just the fine points of English grammar, but the pronunciation of English, as well.
by G. Nolst Trenite’ a.k.a. “Charivarius” 1870 – 1946
Dearest creature in creation
Studying English pronunciation,
I will teach you in my verse
Sounds like corpse, corps, horse and worse
I will keep you, Susy, busy,
Make your head with heat grow dizzy.
Tear in eye your dress you’ll tear,
So shall I! Oh, hear my prayer,
Pray, console your loving poet,
Make my coat look new, dear, sew it!
It goes on further for 146 lines with 800 examples of English pronunciation pitfalls. Click here to read more about our English pronunciation chaos.