The Double ‘L’

The Maverick Philosopher is an insightful, philosophical and often humorous maverick. Here he pontificates on the pros and cons of single and double ‘l’s. I quote in full:

“Marvellous, travelling, tranquillity.  Not that the single ‘l’ is wrong.  It could be argued that the extra ‘l’ does no work and just takes up space.  What’s my rule?  Being a conservative across the board, I am a linguistic conservative, though  flexibly such and not hide-bound like some people I could mention.  So I may well split an infinitive if the forward momentum of the sentence demands it.  And the muscular elegance to which my prose style aspires often requires the use of contractions, as above, fourth sentence.  The  schoolmarms be damned.  And great writers too, such as George Orwell, when they presume to dictate iron-clad rules of good writing.  Here I show that Orwell falls into traps of his own setting.

The Latin tranquillitas sports two ‘l’s.  So to honor that fact I write ‘tranquillity.’  You are free to drop the second ‘l’ — or the first. 

My rule, I suppose, is to favor the old way as long as the archaicism does not mount to the point of distraction.

One of the fruits of civilization is that it allows some of us to occupy ourselves with bagatelles such as this.

But don’t forget that civilization is thin ice and that we must be prepared to defend it with blood and iron.  (A sentence slouching toward mixed metaphor?)”


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