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H.L. Mencken (1880–1956). The American Language. 1921.

Page 242

in steadily increasing use. Some confusion is caused by the fact that the French, who originated practically all of our aeronautical terms, use aeroplane, but omit the final e from biplan, monoplan, etc. A correspondent calls my attention to the fact that the two terminations are not the same etymologically. The plan of biplan is a word meaning “a plane, a plane surface”; while the plane of aeroplane is a formation taken from the verb planer, to soar, to glide. Hence aeroplane means “ce qui plane dans l’air,” while biplan means “ce qui a deux plans.” In the United States the current forms are biplane and monoplane.
  In Canada the two orthographies, English and American, flourish side by side. By an Order-in-Council of 1890, all official correspondence must show the English spelling, but practically all of the newspapers use the American spelling and it is also taught in most of the public schools, which are under the jurisdiction, not of the Dominion government, but of the provincial ministers of education. In Australia the English spelling is official, but various American forms are making fast progress. According to the Triad, the leading Australian magazine, 34 “horrible American inaccuracies of spelling are coming into common use” in the newspapers out there; worse, the educational authorities of Victoria authorize the use of the American -er ending. This last infamy has been roundly denounced by Sir Adrian Knox, Chief Justice of the Commonwealth, and the Triad displays a good deal of colonial passion in supporting him. “Unhappily,” it says, “we have no English Academy to guard the purity and integrity of the language. Everything is left to the sense and loyalty of decently cultivated people.” But even the Triad admits that American usage, in some instances, is “correct.” It is, however, belligerently faithful to the -our-ending. “If it is correct or tolerable in English,” it argues somewhat lamely, “to write labor for labour, why not boddy for body, steddy for steady, and yot for yacht?” Meanwhile, as in Canada, the daily papers slide into the Yankee orbit.