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Lens? Lense?

Happy Poo , Sep 16, 2005; 02:42 a.m.

Why do some people say "lense" instead of "lens"?

Responses


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Bambang I , Sep 16, 2005; 02:50 a.m.

Happy, I have the same questions. It should be "Lensa", right ?

Bill Thorlin , Sep 16, 2005; 03:37 a.m.

English as she am writ.

Steve Dawson , Sep 16, 2005; 03:45 a.m.

Historically the correct spelling is 'lens', however, the misspelling 'lense' has become so prevalent that even the OED now includes it as a legitimate alternative.

Brian Southward , Sep 16, 2005; 04:12 a.m.

The OED tracks usage, so if there are enough instances of "lense", the OED will list it. That's not the same as being "legitimate". Not sure what that means anyway. Standardized spellings came in with Johnson's dictionary, but there's never been a law about how things should be spelt.

I prefer "lens" because I grew up with it.

H. P. , Sep 16, 2005; 04:28 a.m.

Standardised spelling came in with Johnson"s dictionary? Is that the same Dr Samuel Johnson who, on being challenged about spelling a word differently in two places on the same page replied: "'tis a poor man who can only spell a word one way."?

Mind you, it's such a useful quote that Andrew Jackson later recycled it as "It's a damn poor mind that can only think of one way to spell a word."

Steve Dawson , Sep 16, 2005; 05:23 a.m.

Since language is a living, evolving thing, 'legitimate' means something like having become correct (or at least not clearly incorrect) by virtue of common usage. Language develops through use, not prescription, but, nonetheless, at any time there are commonly accepted correct and incorrect spellings and grammatical forms. At one time 'lense' would clearly have been wrong. Now it's not. Irritating, maybe, but not necessarily wrong.

Bill Thorlin , Sep 16, 2005; 05:50 a.m.

Steve - agree with much of what you say but I prefer to think of it as "not right" - splitting hairs perhaps. Language will always evolve but some of the evolution should be resisted, strongly at times.

Steve Dawson , Sep 16, 2005; 05:59 a.m.

Absolutely. How long have you got? Let me tell you about a few of my pet hates.......

Art Haykin , Sep 16, 2005; 08:02 a.m.

Dens, fens, hens, lens, pens, tens, vens. One of the most misspelled words is "definately" (definitely), and there are many others, like "seperate" (separate), but inspite of much popular usage, they are NEVER correct, irregardless 2 menshun.


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