H.L. Mencken (18801956). The American Language. 1921.
case sheets are printed for publication in England.28 The first influence need not detain us. It is chiefly visible among folk of fashionable pretensions, and is not widespread. At Bar Harbor, in Maine, some of the summer residents are at great pains to put harbour instead of harbor on their stationery, but the local post-master still continues to stamp all mail Bar Harbor, the legal name of the place. In the same way American haberdashers sometimes advertise pyjamas instead of pajamas, just as they advertise braces instead of suspenders and boots instead of shoes. But this benign folly does not go very far. Beyond occasionally clinging to the -re ending in words of the theatre group, all American newspapers and magazines employ the native orthography, and it would be quite as startling to encounter honour or traveller in one of them as it would be to encounter gaol or waggon. Even the most fashionable jewelers in Fifth avenue still deal in jewelry, not in jewellery.
The second influence is of more effect and importance. In the days before the copyright treaty between England and the United States, one of the standing arguments against it among the English was based upon the fear that it would flood England with books set up in America, and so work a corruption of English spelling.29 This fear, as we have seen, had a certain plausibility; there is not the slightest doubt that American books and American magazines have done valiant missionary service for American orthography. But English conservatism still holds out stoutly enough to force American printers to certain compromises. When a book is designed for circulation in both countries it is common for the publisher to instruct the printer to employ English spelling. This English
Note 28. Mere stupid copying may perhaps be added. An example of it appears on a map printed with a pamphlet entitled Conquest and Kultur, compiled by two college professors and issued by the Creel press bureau during the Great War. (Washington, 1918.) On this map, borrowed from an English periodical called New Europe without correction, annex is spelled annexe. In the same way English spellings often appear in paragraphs reprinted from the English newspapers. As compensation in the case of annexe I find annex on pages 11 and 23 of A Report on the Treatment by the Enemy of British Prisoners of War Behind the Firing Lines in France and Belgium; Miscellaneous No. 7 (1918). When used as a verb the English always spell the word annex.Annexe is only the noun form. [back]
Note 29.Vide Matthews: Americanisms and Briticisms, pp. 33--34. [back]