Monday, January 03, 2005

More Blogospheric Quality Control

A few days ago, I e-mailed Mike Gilleland to correct a typographical error he had made. He got his subtle 'revenge' on me in his erudite post, A Thousand Years. You see, I misspelled 'millennial.' But David Horowitz, whom I was quoting, made the same mistake. So I am in good company.

Why are two n's needed? As Gilleland points out, 'millennium' is from mille (thousand) and annus (year). The spelling follows the etymology. Linguistic conservatives like me are big on etymology. So I accept the correction rather than arguing that the second n does no work and should be dropped for that reason. It looks like I am going to have to post on the philosophy of spelling.

Omitting an n in annus leads to serious trouble: one gets anus, which has two meanings, both of them in play in Schopenhauer's Anus obit, onus abit, which may well be the greatest Latin pun of all time. Anus with a long a refers to a well-known orifice, with a short a to an old woman. For explanation of the pun, see here.