I’ve felt this building up for months now. At first it seemed comical, but after seeing it a few too many times, I’m going to cut loose.
What’s up with editors dropping the “-al” endings off of words these days?
Now, I know when it counts. I know that “historic” is different from “historical” and “classic” is different from “classical.” I get that. But I recently saw a children’s book on a store shelf that promised a gallery of “mythologic creatures.” Oddly, it hurt my ears even to read it silently to myself in the bookstore because “mythologic” is so jarringly, teeth-grindingly inelegant. It should be “mythological.” The human mouth prefers to end words in neutral positions. It’s just a physiological reality. Speaking of that — hey, you medical editors, why is it suddenly “physiologic” instead of “physiological”? Since when is it “pharmacologic” instead of “pharmacological”?
Judging from some searches, it looks like a late-1990s change. I smell the vapors of something trendy. Ick.
Certainly, some -al endings naturally fall by the wayside. Who needs “academical”? Who needs “poetical”? But these should die natural deaths, not be picked off by editorial snipers in a purge fueled by some junta with no sense of language, rhythm, and poetry. The flow of language suffers when natural bridging sounds and rests are disrupted.
These two innocent letters are only trying to help us!
It certainly doesn’t make sense in economic terms. If you want to get rid of useless letters, try relaxing the “data are” rule so that you can reduce the seven letters to six by realizing we’ve moved to the “data is” era. Unless your agenda are about purity of Latin plurals. I can’t help you then.
According to the dictionary, the -al suffix means “of, relating to, characterized by.” So, historical relates to history, just as physiological relates to physiology. That said, I still don’t get why we’re dropping the -al suffixes when usage dictates they still thrive in key places, my editorial friends! Mythological relates to mythology, just as grammatical relates to grammar.
Of or pertaining to grammar
“the grammatic structure of a sentence“
There are actually people claiming we could be using the word “grammatic” out there? Give me a break! That’s almost illiterate (which may be entirely appropriate for grammatic sticklers). Luckily, Merriam-Webster has not lost their marbles:
The word you’ve entered isn’t in the dictionary. Click on a spelling suggestion below or try again using the search bar above.
My advice? Restore elegance and reason to scientific editing by restoring the -al to its proper place. If it truly dies in normal parlance, let it die, but don’t take it down to the river in a bag just because it annoys you or because someone popped you in the head with a crazy editing theory.
Your readers are wondering what kind of pathologic and nonsensic game you’re playing.