Existance or Existence?

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StephenMcC | Forum Activity | Posted: Mon, Aug 17 2015 3:27 AM

I came across this:

My understanding is that existance is a misspelling of existence.

But C S Lewis (Collected Letters) uses it 9 times with "existance" (and he knew a bit about the English language!). And the use of 'existance' appears in 26 resources from AS Hodge (1907) through to reference in Journals (Semeia) and Commentaries.

The vast majority of references use "existence" with an "e". 

I conclude that it is not North American vs British English since it the differences are on both sides. 

So is there a difference of meaning that I am not aware of or can find?

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Jan Krohn | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Aug 17 2015 3:59 AM

Wiktionary lists it as spelling mistake. Latin: existere. Existance doesn't make sense...

Seems to be a common mistake though; even Melville, Thoreau and Arthur Conan Doyle misspelled it.

http://www.thefreelibrary.com/_/search/Search.aspx?By=0&SearchBy=4&q=Existance

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abondservant | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Aug 17 2015 4:37 AM

Jan Krohn:

Wiktionary lists it as spelling mistake. Latin: existere. Existance doesn't make sense...

Seems to be a common mistake though; even Melville, Thoreau and Arthur Conan Doyle misspelled it.

http://www.thefreelibrary.com/_/search/Search.aspx?By=0&SearchBy=4&q=Existance

I wonder if its an american english vs english from england difference. Doyle was english IIRC, and perhaps melville. Thoreau may have simply spent too much time with nature, and not enough with a dictionary.

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Jonathan Pitts | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Aug 17 2015 5:35 AM

abondservant:
I wonder if its an american english vs english from england difference.

The Oxford English Dictionary doesn't list it as an alternative spelling, even historically.

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Mark Barnes | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Aug 17 2015 5:39 AM

StephenMcC:
But C S Lewis (Collected Letters) uses it 9 times with "existance" (and he knew a bit about the English language!).

But don't forget this letter to the Times Educational Supplement!

Sir,—

Nearly everything I have ever read about spelling reform assumes from the outset that it is necessary for us all to spell alike. Why?

We got on for centuries without an agreed common orthography. Most men of my age remember censoring the letters of soldiers and know that even the wildest idiosyncrasies of spelling hardly ever made them unintelligible. Printing houses will always have, as they have now, their own rules, whether authors like them or not. Scholars, who know the ancestry of the words they use, will generally spell them accordingly. A few hard words will still have to be learned by everyone. But for the rest, who would be a penny the worse if though and tho, existence and existance, sieze, seize and seeze were all equally tolerated?

If our spelling were either genuinely phonetic or genuinely etymological, or if any reform that made it either the one or the other were worth the trouble, it would be another matter. As things are, surely Liberty is the simple and inexpensive ‘Reform’ we need? This would save children and teachers thousands of hours’ work. It would also force those to whom applications for jobs are made to exercise their critical faculties on the logic and vocabulary of the candidate instead of tossing his letter aside with the words ‘can’t even spell.’

C. S. Lewis

Lewis had quite idiosyncratic spelling at times. For example, in his letters he often spells "Tuesday" as "Teusday", partly (I presume) because that's how it was sometimes spelt in the 16th century.

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Bruce Dunning | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Aug 17 2015 5:58 AM

Great Lewis quote Mark. I especially like his opening line.

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Donnie Hale | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Aug 17 2015 6:12 AM

Mark Barnes:
Nearly everything I have ever read about spelling reform assumes from the outset that it is necessary for us all to spell alike. Why?

Even Lewis was wrong once in a while.

-Donnie

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JT (alabama24) | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Aug 17 2015 7:25 AM

You should have titled your thread "The existence of existance."

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Matthew C Jones | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Aug 17 2015 7:48 AM

We should remember before the time of Noah Webster there was little standardization of spelling in the English language.

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JohnB | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Aug 17 2015 8:06 AM

Hum. Speaking as one of the worlds worst at spelling, without a reasonably agreed spelling - at least for nouns - a Logos search would have real problems.

On the other hand Google (fuzzy) search is brilliant. I use it as a dictionary when I am not sure how to spell a word. I input what I think the spelling might be and my friend Google almost invariably comes up with the correct spelling. At least I can usually recognize when I have the correct spelling ...

going off subject a bit, don't forget there were more than 26 letters in the British alphabet not all that long ago - see thorn (letter) in wikipedia. Also http://mentalfloss.com/article/31904/12-letters-didnt-make-alphabet 

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JT (alabama24) | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Aug 17 2015 1:34 PM

Super.Tramp:
We should remember before the time of Noah Webster there was little standardization of spelling in the English language

Excuse me? It wasn't Webster... It was the Oxford English Dictionary! Stick out tongue

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Mark Barnes | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Aug 17 2015 1:41 PM

Super.Tramp:
We should remember before the time of Noah Webster there was little standardization of spelling in the English language.

Don't you mean "standardisation"? Stick out tongue

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StephenMcC | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Aug 17 2015 2:07 PM

alabama24:

You should have titled your thread "The existence of existance."

Very good.... Just picking up your responses as I'm away overnight but thanks for the replies. 

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Dan Francis | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Aug 17 2015 2:58 PM

The centre of this problem is too black and white view of standardisation we definitely need to add more colour to our neighbours vocabulary. Hopefully the don't try to throw us in gaol for it.

Devil

-Dan

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