Thursday, May 22, 2008

Bad Judgement

I remember many years ago when I was an articled clerk being chastised for misspelling the word 'judgment/judgement', when referring to the decision of a court. I don't recall which way I spelt it, but remember afterwards looking it up in a dictionary, which confirmed that either spelling could be used. Since then, I have merrily alternated the spelling, as the whim took me. Until recently, that is, when I came across the 'Judgments' page on the Judiciary of England and Wales website, where they state:

"you may think we can't spell, but when we refer to a court judgment we have deliberately missed an “e” out. It is not entirely clear why, it's just the way it is spelt!"

Right, that explains it then.

15 comments:

  1. John

    I tend to use my judgement when using judgment to refer to a decision of a court and when I give a judgment on whether I should have another glass of rioja to impair my judgement that is a matter of using one's judgement to draft the judgment.

    I think this is clear ?

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  2. Crystal, as in the glass holding your rioja.

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  3. Fantastic. It's just the way it is.
    We don't know why, or can't be bothered to find out? I guess it is no different than using the word jail/gaol ;-/

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  4. While both spellings are acceptable, the big dictionary (which you can get at online with your library card number - nifty, eh?) prefers with an e.

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  5. Do you want to argue with the entire judiciary? ;-)

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  6. And how do you refer to the Acknowledgment of Service form then?
    By the way curiously my dictionary allows both spellings of judgment (and I'm a non-e person, but I blame my English teacher for that)but gives an additional definition for judgment as "the estimate by God of the ultimate wothiness or unworthiness of the individual or all mankind - as in Judgment Day which it also defines.
    Perhaps to keep the law secular, we should all be using judgement!

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  7. Acknowledg... oh, whatever...

    Hmm... yes, in view of what you say perhaps I prefer 'judgement' after all...

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  8. I confess I too had been an optional 'e' man: but the idiomatic distinction is frequent and I tend to adopt it to avoid the supercilious and incorrect language Nazis. Spineless or what?

    Fowler's Modern English says both are acceptable with the US preferring the 'e'-less version. It says:
    ..."The presence or absence of -e- is not a matter of correctness or the reverse, but just one of convention in various publishing houses."

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  9. Yep, spineless. Just like me. ;-)

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  10. I thought one wrote judgment in Cambridge but we in Oxford write judgement

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  11. Ah, that explains it - Lord Phillips was educated at Cambridge!

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  12. In my traineeship I was told that all lawyers, and only lawyers, spelt that word "judgment", and the spelling was a way of telling if someone was PLU.

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  13. Interesting, although it seems that that is not always an accurate test...

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  14. Nick Langford28 May 2008 14:01

    I've just written a 400-page book on family law (the Fathers 4 Justice Handbook) using the e-less spelling and now learn from Richard Ramsay that as an Oxford man I must put the e back in (which I confess was my instinct).

    I really shouldn't have trusted the Microsoft Word spell-checker.

    Damnation.

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  15. Never trust Micro$oft! :-)

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