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In a dilemna/dilemma

Roisin3

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Dec 12, 2009
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Like many others I was taught the spelling dilemna and thought that Microsoft spellchecker was some American anomaly.

Dilemna or Dilemma

Millions of people for generations in English speaking countries around the world, including the USA, were taught dilemna. Many remember that it was emphasised that it was a silent n in dilemna similar to the silent n in hymn.

More mysteriously this word's French equivalent has also been spelt (autocorrect doesn't like 'spelt') dilemme and dilemne in French speaking countries around the world across generations.

Apparently there has never been a dilemna in dictionaries going back hundreds of years.

How did this happen? Any ideas?
 


GDPR

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Well you were taught wrong then.

Di = Greek for two and Lemma = Greek for alternatives or propositions.
 

Roisin3

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Apparently. But that doesn't explain how millions across both the English and French speaking worlds were taught wrong for generations.
 

petaljam

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Me neither, I've only ever seen it with two Ms. Is it in a dictionary somewhere as MN?

EDIT : apparently not, except as a spelling error (forgot the link: http://english.stackexchange.com/questions/85377/dilemma-vs-dilemna)

And the guy in the link also accepts it's a mistake, further down the page. I suspect he greatly overestimates the frequency with which people have actually been taught it, since he's only going by comments on his page afaict : a version of the long-tail effect?
 
Last edited:

GDPR

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Actually it reminds me of an old argument from form 5 classics - do you pronounce the English word homosexual with a long or short 0? If long, then the derivation is Latin (from homo-hominis = man) and if short then it is from ancient Greek (homo-homeo = same).

Or do you just say quare?

Clue: the ancient Greek was actually ta paidka (boy-lover). So now you know the correct pronunciation.
 

diaspora-mick

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Actually it reminds me of an old argument from form 5 classics - do you pronounce the English word homosexual with a long or short 0? If long, then the derivation is Latin (from homo-hominis = man) and if short then it is from ancient Greek (homo-homeo = same).

Or do you just say quare?

Clue: the ancient Greek was actually ta paidka (boy-lover). So now you know the correct pronunciation.
Off to Maynooth with ya and yer durty talk ...
 

Gurdiev77

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Apr 25, 2016
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Like many others I was taught the spelling dilemna and thought that Microsoft spellchecker was some American anomaly.

Dilemna or Dilemma

Millions of people for generations in English speaking countries around the world, including the USA, were taught dilemna. Many remember that it was emphasised that it was a silent n in dilemna similar to the silent n in hymn.

More mysteriously this word's French equivalent has also been spelt (autocorrect doesn't like 'spelt') dilemme and dilemne in French speaking countries around the world across generations.

Apparently there has never been a dilemna in dictionaries going back hundreds of years.

How did this happen? Any ideas?
never heard of it .

Are you sure you havent got it wrong all these years ?
 

Gurdiev77

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Actually it reminds me of an old argument from form 5 classics - do you pronounce the English word homosexual with a long or short 0? If long, then the derivation is Latin (from homo-hominis = man) and if short then it is from ancient Greek (homo-homeo = same).

Or do you just say quare?

Clue: the ancient Greek was actually ta paidka (boy-lover). So now you know the correct pronunciation.
we didnt pronounce it at all in Ireland until a couple of years ago .
 

che schifo

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Interesting. I'm like the guy in my link, everytime I saw dilemma I thought sheesh, American spellings creeping in everywhere.
If I'd have been asked at a table quizz which is the correct spelling, I'd have answered "dilemna".
 

Finbar10

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Can't say I ever remember seeing "dilemna" or hearing about this "dilemna" dilemma! :) Out of curiosity did a google seach on politics.ie on the word, i.e. put in the search term "site: politics.ie dilemna". That only gave me back about 100 results. The same search with "dilemma" gave me back over 3000. Plus m and n are right next to each other on the keyboard. I'd guess a lot of occurrences of "dilemna" are simply due to someone mashing the neigbouring key by mistake.
 

Accidental sock

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Ah, just use quandary.
 

Norman Bates

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Can't say I ever remember seeing "dilemna" or hearing about this "dilemna" dilemma! :) Out of curiosity did a google seach on politics.ie on the word, i.e. put in the search term "site: politics.ie dilemna". That only gave me back about 100 results. The same search with "dilemma" gave me back over 3000. Plus m and n are right next to each other on the keyboard. I'd guess a lot of occurrences of "dilemna" are simply due to someone mashing the neigbouring key by mistake.
Never heard of 'dilemna' until I saw it on this thread. You can thank the nuns and the Christian Brothers for that - it was always dilemma in their book.
 

ShoutingIsLeadership

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Like many others I was taught the spelling dilemna and thought that Microsoft spellchecker was some American anomaly.

Dilemna or Dilemma

Millions of people for generations in English speaking countries around the world, including the USA, were taught dilemna. Many remember that it was emphasised that it was a silent n in dilemna similar to the silent n in hymn.

More mysteriously this word's French equivalent has also been spelt (autocorrect doesn't like 'spelt') dilemme and dilemne in French speaking countries around the world across generations.

Apparently there has never been a dilemna in dictionaries going back hundreds of years.

How did this happen? Any ideas?

Do you also say eggscape instead of escape, and Chicargo instead of Chicago?
 

petaljam

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Nov 23, 2012
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30,850
More mysteriously this word's French equivalent has also been spelt (autocorrect doesn't like 'spelt') dilemme and dilemne in French speaking countries around the world across generations.
Just on this it BTW : the French are rubbish at spelling their own language, there are so many words which are homophones in French that if you don't know another language, particularly Latin and to a lesser extent Greek, it seems to be quite hard for them to sort out what's what. I know educated people who talk about "un arbustre" for "arbuste" (=a bush) by analogy with arbre = tree, and various other mistakes an English speaker who speaks French just couldn't make.

But Dilemne is very much a mistake in French too. Apols for the French link, but in the circumstances I don't think there are any in English: https://fr.m.wiktionary.org/wiki/dilemne
(It just explains that it's a common spelling mistake and where the confusion comes from, and directs people to the correct entry. With two Ms.)
 

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