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03 July 2012

Being tribal about spelling

Today's Johnson post responds to a reader's enquiry about the spelling of unfeasible/infeasible - and about the passion we bring to debates about such topics. Read the post for Johnson's answer to the spelling question. It includes a graph that shows trends in the use of the two words since 1800.

On the second point, Johnson says:
...why do we get so worked up about these tiny things?  People are tribal, and they often enjoy getting especially tribal about the tiniest things. Britons and Americans can both make passionate defences of driving on their respective sides of the road, or how many syllables "alumin(i)um" has, partly because, though the choice is arbitrary, it is defining: do you belong to the red team or the blue team? It seems to be in our nature to get worked up about these things.

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