Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Making the mistakes of a true Sherlockian.

I don't think the Holmesians of England will ever truly understand how much Sherlock Holmes can ruin even an American English major's ability to spell.

If one reads the words of Conan Doyle enough times, memorizes lines, studies passages, and generally ingests the Canon of Holmes as totally as possible, one starts to think like Conan Doyle, at least in one aspect.





The British spellings start creeping in, and I find myself backspacing to get rid of the "u" every time I type "behaviour . . . behavior." Did it in an e-mail just before I left work today.

Jacquelynn Morris brought the subject up on Facebook today, when she caught herself using "postman" instead of "mailman." (Which, it turns out, is still acceptable in American English.) Still, as Jacquelynn and many another American Sherlockian has surely noticed over the years, Doylean English starts creeping into your American whether you like it or not. Some Sherlockians affect it on purpose, to be sure, but even if you don't . . . spend enough time in the hobby, and you might as well have spent a few years in Britain, in some respects.

Sherlock Holmes knew the feeling.

"My well of English seems to be permanently defiled," he comments after catching himself using the word "stunt," after his American spy days leading up to "His Last Bow."

Well, if our country corrupted Holmes's verbal skills, he has certainly had his revenge on the Americans in his fan following.

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