Sunday, March 07, 2010

Matthew insists on puffed sleeves

and Anne her e. But what's the difference between gray and grey?

22 comments:

janeyolen@aol.com said...

I am one of those who truly believes here is a difference between gray and gray. and not just because I live four months a year in Scotland!

To me, gray is a less exciting color, a bit bland whereas grey is deeper, cooler, like stones washed by the sea. Gray signifies stones that may have been wet at some point but are now dry and have lost all their beauty.

Jane

grrlpup said...

Madeleine L'Engle had a thing about gray and grey. From A Circle of Quiet: "Then there's grey, which is English, and one very definite, bird-wing, ocean-wave color to me; and gray, which is American, and a flatter, more metallic color."

She must have arrived at this after The Moon By Night, because slick Zachary's last name is Grey there and Gray in the books after it (and Vicky even goes on about his eyes being gray like his name, not grey).

IrreverendAmy said...

The spelling and even the shape of words definitely affects their connotations, to me. The thing that makes "ax" set my teeth on edge feels like part of the same kind of awareness of words that also makes me almost always remember how they're spelled. People can have an excellent ear for language in every other way and be lousy spellers, no question. But I wonder if there is a correlation between those who are naturally good spellers and those who insist that gray and grey, and most definitely Anne and Ann are different (Anne--so sophisticated! Ann--so dowdy!).

There, now I've pissed off Anns and bad spellers in one swell foop.

Roger Sutton said...

Well, to piss off Jane and the ghost of L'Engle, my eyes always roll a bit when I see "grey" in an American book. I even hated Joan Baez when she released that album called Colours so you can see this is a prejudice of longstanding.

kristin cashore said...

"Grey" is how I've always spelled "gray," having grown up reading so many British classics and not really thinking about the difference -- until I got my first copyedited ms back and all my "greys" had been changed to "grays." It made me sad. :( But then, a few months later, I got that same copyedited ms back from my U.K. publisher, and they'd switched all the "grays" back to "greys," so I was happy again!

For the record, the references to Matthew, Anne with an E, and PUFFED SLEEVES made my day.

Anonymous said...

Grays are opaque; greys are slightly translucent. Suede gloves are gray; dry slate is gray; but the ocean generally looks green-grey when it is acting up, and the glaze on celadon pottery has a good deal of grey in it. My computer disapproves of "grey" and tries to keep me from using it. This renders me infuriate. Where do we expect to end up, if we blur all these fascinating distinctions? Lying in the gutter, all of us--and not a star in sight.

Anonymous said...

Meanwhile, soldiers are dying in the mountains of Afghanistan...

Peter said...

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GraceAnne LadyHawk said...

Gray has too much pink in it; grey is what the color is.

Shoshana said...

"The only real cat is a grey cat." -Emily of New Moon

"Gray" just isn't as soft and furry, is it?

Anonymous said...

I don't get the reference to Matthew and puffed sleeves.

betty t, Minneapolis

Anonymous said...

Joan Baez is Canadian and we spell colours with a U.

Laperc said...

Anon @ 10:42 -- I think you've confused Joan Baez with Joni Mitchell. Or k.d. lang.

Melinda said...

I agree with all the folks (including Katharine S. White) who equate gray with skies and grey with kittens.

For me, it's also part of liking the cooler-looking word. I prefer doughnuts, catalogue, etc. There's a little town to the north of here named Fortescue, or Fortesque -- the latter spelling is much more fun!

Anonymous said...

So, no one's going to help out poor Betty in Minneapolis?

*evil laugh*

Shoshana said...

Betty, Matthew insists on puffed sleeves in a dress for Anne because they're desperately, dramatically important to her, rather like the e in her name and pretty much everything else she sets her heart on.

Anonymous said...

That would be Anne of Green Gables, Betty.

Susan Patron said...

Cynthia Kadohata writes in her beautiful new book, A MILLION SHADES OF GRAY, "The next morning he woke up before sunrise. The green shades of the jungle seemed gray in the dim light. A million shades of gray, just like the hide of an elephant."

Melinda said...

"Shades of gray, wherever I go; the more I find out, the less that I know."

Tip of the pen (keyboard) to Billy Joel

IrreverendAmy said...

I agree that "Colours" is pretentious (Anonymous @ 10:42, maybe you're mixing up Joan Baez with Joni Mitchell--Baez is US American) but IMO gray/grey is different, since both are permissible under US spelling.

IrreverendAmy said...

Oh, and my gray cat is definitely gray. Maybe if she tilted more toward the brown than the blue, she'd be grey. Then again, maybe anyone who spells her name Stephenie shouldn't be trusted on such matters.

Roger Sutton said...

Susan, that's a great line. And if Kadohata had used grey I would be too distracted by the spelling to see the color.