Tuesday, April 11, 2006

why i spel it cel

I used to spel "cel phone" with two l's. Then it seemed like hip people were speling it 'cel.' Not wanting to seem unhip, I switched. Now people regularly correct my speling, sometimes with a rectitude normaly reserved for egregious morall lapses. Given that it is a shortening of 'cellular', one could argue either that (a) this implies the only logicall shortening is 'cell' or that (b) since it is a shortening anyway, the proper way to shorten it is linguisticaly up for grabs. If (b), 'cel' has the appeall of being a nice play on 'tel', the standard shortening of 'telephone.' 'Cell' also starts to look like it contains an ungainlly redundancy when you are used to typing 'cel.' But I have no committment either way, realy. If I start to sense that I have misjudged the direction of lexicall history, I wil switch back.

(Addendum: I had an e-mail exchange about this with a 'cell' advocate who asked when they can start calling me 'Jer' instead of 'Jeremy.' My friends in college called me 'Jer.' Never again.)

6 comments:

Tom Bozzo said...

Believe it or not, I've wondered about this. I tend to favor "mobile," esp. delivered as if I were about to take an important meeting in New York.

Somewhat more seriously, "Cell" is a logical shortening because the unit of geographic coverage for cellular telephony is a "cell."

"Cel," meanwhile, has a pre-existing meaning as a unit of animation artwork.

Anonymous said...

The proper reply to someone correcting cel to cell (or vice versa) is "Ular?" in a tone equating "You think?" -- thus does our language grow and enrich our thoughts.

jeremy said...

The animation artwork tie, to me, argues for the 'cel' spelling. I've always wanted to own a real original cel from Looney Tunes.

Tom Bozzo said...

Even non-original cels are remarkably expensive, in comparison to cell phones.

Winston said...

OMG ... All this time I thought folks were saying "sell" phone, which made absolutley no sense to me. Glad you've helped to rearrange my confusion...

Anonymous said...

Celephone?