Monday, April 30, 2012

Zen in the Debacle of Grammar: "Honey, that dribbly mud-man is eying me!" "You mean, eyeing you, dear."

This is one of those words that, when you say it, everybody knows what you're talking about. But writing it down, well, that's another story. A boring story with a 50-question, write-in-the-answer quiz afterwards. I started making one up but could only think of one question: "Which do you like, eying or eyeing?"

From the deep, meticulous research I've been undertaking for the last ten minutes or so, as far as I can tell no one can agree on this one. Something or other about "eying" being old English, and just not looking right on the page. According to this random online spell-checker, "eying" is wrong. But the spell-checker here on Blogger and the one on OpenOffice flag "eyeing" as incorrect. (Of course, they also say that dribbly is not a word, when it is.) Oxford Dictionary and Merriam-Webster say that both "eying" and "eyeing" are correct.

It seems to be a matter of preference, and no matter which spelling you decide to go with, there will likely be someone who objects. If one offends your sensibilities, just use the other and move on with your life. Don't, I repeat, don't, waste your time writing blog posts about it. (Oops. Too late.) Just be consistent. Don't do what I did in this blog post's title. If you use "eying" at one point in your novel, don't flip-flop to "eyeing" the next time around.

Thoughts? Condemnations? Readers and writers, which do you prefer, "eying" or "eyeing"? And more importantly, do you think "dribbly" can be used legitimately or is just sort of silly-sounding?

No comments:

Post a Comment