The news in this country over the last few days has been replete with high-profile court cases; trials, hearings and whatnot (Shapelle Corby, Michael Jackson, phone-chucker Russell Crowe) but what I'm really peeved off with the the use of the word jail. This may be because I happen to live in the United States of Australia that has no life or will of its own, but increasingly the media here is becoming very lax and I wish to call an anathema on it. I even saw the word colorize in print yesterday. Colorize? It's not a real word surely. The nearest word would be colourise I should think. Also, the pronunciation of 'Z' is getting annoying. 'Zed' not 'Zee'! It makes me angry how Americans want to say 'zee' just so it rhymes, what's worse is that 30 years of Sesame St are beginning to have an effect on Aussie kids.
Now I'm the first to admit that language is an evolving animal that should adapt as needs bear and I'll even conceed that the standard repository for language in this wide brown land of telephone chuckers is the Macquarie and not the Oxford Dictionary but even the Macquarie doesn't include jail or color within its pages. -ise is the accepted variant and even words like elevator and automobile should be replaced with 24 carat honest words like lift and car.
Jail? Horrid word.
The whole purpose of having a dictionary is to standardise the language, or else we'd be stuck in the utter chaos of Chaucerian English. I may hold on to the old ways like a well chewed shoe, but my time has not yet passed. Especially when an institution like Old Melbourne Gaol was printed in the newspaper as Jail, even with a photograph of the sign in the background. Don't even get me started on traffic circles, I mean what are they supposed to be? Ah, someone meant to say a roundabout. I've said it once and i'll say it again. 'Center' is the final frontier. As soon as we go down that track I leave this country behind.
My big gripe with Windows/Office etc is that it always seems to default to US English. When I install Windows on my machine I always specify Aus regional and language settings so why can't Office pick this up and give me the Aus English dictionary by default? Why does MS Publisher not pick up the same dictionary settings as for MS Word? And why is it in MS Publisher that when I change the dictionary to Australian English that it continues changing my s's to z's? I may not be a fan of American-English but I accept that its usage is probably more widespread than Anglo-English. Just please don't force me to use it, I far prefer the style, character and quaintness of the traditional Anglo version.
And Jail vs Gaol? I admit I think that Gaol looks far more old-fashioned (and thus, perversely, trendy).