Modelling or modeling?

Discussion in 'English Only' started by luinthesky, Feb 28, 2007.

  1. luinthesky New Member

    France, French
    I have a problem with double consonnants:
    the grammar rule explains to never double a consonant when a word is more than one syllable (ie: to sit_ siTTing but to help_helPing) BUT I saw in a lot of magazines and websites "modeling" with two "L"...

    So, is it modeLing or modeLLing???

    Thank you.
  2. Dimcl Senior Member

    British Columbia, Canada
    Canadian English
    It can be spelled either way - "modeling" is more AE and "modelling" is more BE.
  3. mplsray Senior Member

    Here is a section of a Wikipedia article which you might find useful.
  4. luinthesky New Member

    France, French

    Thank you very much...
  5. olohoyo New Member

    So you can use both spelling... or speling ? ;-)
    Seriously, I didn't get the point of "more than one syllable" in your post: is "help" au 2 syllable word?
  6. mplsray Senior Member

    The Wikipedia article I referenced has changed since I last posted to this thread. The relevant section of the article is now here.
  7. ProppaInglish New Member

    English - England
    I don't know where this double-consonant rule comes from, but my approach is to use whichever one does not have an ambiguous pronunciation or interpretation.

    Sit goes to sitting because (a) siting is already a word and (b) it is pronounced the same as citing.

    Help goes to helping because it couldn't be pronounced differently, and doesn't mean anything else.

    Thus I would suggest you use modelling, because modeling could be pronounced mode ling - at least that's what it looks like to me.

    I am English though and the tendency for Americans to drop letters and rearrange things at will irks me.
  8. JulianStuart

    JulianStuart Senior Member

    Sonoma County CA
    English (UK then US)
    Welcome to the forum, Proppa.

    You may find this thread interesting - entitled "Traveling or travelling? Doubling a final consonant when adding a suffix."

    To your example - I would see that as mo-DELL-ing sooner than I would see the single version as MODE-ling and the thread above has much discussion on patterns, guidelines and exceptions!
    I do hope that after following some of the discussions in this particular forum, your discovery of the complexities and variations of the different forms of English around the globe and within any given nation, will result in a decrease in the extent to which such regional differences are found to be irksome. Moving from the UK to the US and being exposed to American English caused me to explore how the differences arose and I've learnt a lot about the evolution of languages. For example, I was surprised to find that many things I had thought of as "Americanisms" (willful or otherwise :D ) were indeed used in England originally but usage changed over time there so the American form can be viewed as "more authentic English".
  9. ProppaInglish New Member

    English - England
    Ok interesting thread. I read it all and I still think I'm right.

    I think you'd have to agree that for someone whose never seen the word model, modelling is clearly three syllables, whereas modeling could easily be two or three.

    It's interesting to see how people concoct these elaborate 'rules' about stressed syllables and vowels, and then proceed to point out all the exceptions.

    The original purpose of written language is so we don't all have to remember long bits of information like in the times of the Ilead. So surely the spelling which is most likely to lead to the correct pronunciation is the correct spelling?

    I think you've been in America too long pal :)
  10. JulianStuart

    JulianStuart Senior Member

    Sonoma County CA
    English (UK then US)
    Too long for what? Pray tell! :rolleyes:
    Wouldn't that be nice?
    English is probably the last language that could make any claim to having spelling reflect pronunciation :eek: : cough, bough, tough, through, trough etc. etc.
  11. JamesM

    JamesM à la Mod (English Only)

    :) So true, JS. We have all sorts of delights like comb, tomb, bomb and aplomb, another case where an identical ending is pronounced differently for each word. I don't think an argument can be made that we spell in order to aid pronunciation. In fact, I imagine it seems to be the opposite for most people learning English as a foreign language. :)
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2010
  12. natkretep

    natkretep Moderato con anima (English Only)

    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    I agree that spelling is to do with pronunciation, but it's also got to do with other things.

    If we only focus on pronunciation, in the way I say the word, I should write modling or even moddling (to emphasise the short vowel in the first syllable) - I don't think I'm the only one who pronounces it in two syllables. But would this be desirable? Probably not, because then we would lose the visual kinship between model and modelling. Spelling is also there to show relationships between words.
  13. JulianStuart

    JulianStuart Senior Member

    Sonoma County CA
    English (UK then US)
    That brings to mind a helpful quote from Bryson's "Mother tongue" - Pronunciation and spelling change at different rates and often get out of step :D I'm so thankful I learned it as my first language.
  14. mplsray Senior Member

    Noah Webster is responsible for the American rule, which was part of a general decrease in doubled consonants in his reformed system. One advantage to Webster's rule is that in the case of words ending in -ed, -er and -ing it provides evidence for which syllable is stressed in a three-syllable word. Someone seeing traveller and modelling for the first time would not have anything within the spelling to indicate whether the first or second syllable is stressed, while someone who knows Webster's rule would know that traveler and modeling are pronounced on the first syllable, while propeller and preferring are pronounced with the stress on the second syllable.

    In the case of modeling/modelling, this amounts to a wash, since there are two possible pronunciation of modeling by a (very) naive speller. But in most other three-syllable words composed by attaching -ed, -er, or -ing to a two-syllable root, the American version has a phonetic advantage because of Webster's rule--plus you get rid of a superfluous letter.

    (Note that the spelling kidnaped is an exception to Noah Webster's rule. It is a relatively rare variant--most Americans spell it kidnapped according to the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary--which can be seen by the use of the word also to precede the variant in that dictionary's entry for kidnap.)

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