Disc Not Disk

By Alan Richardson

Originally published in EUG #58

Time for my pet gripe to appear in EUG, I think.

One of the main reasons I prefer Acorn Computers is because it is British (as well as for its brilliant OS). Along with things British, we have British spellings (Oxford). The Acorn world and most of the magazines associated with it, use British spellings. So we have disc, not disk. Disk is the preferred American spelling. If one consults an American dictionary the entry is "Disk, Disc" in that order, indicating preference. If one reads American-authorised computer books, one will find the spelling "disk" not because it is anything special relating to floppy discs, but because it is the usual spelling in the author's country.

The spelling is by no means hard and fast. I have several instances of "disc" being used in American literature. Most advertising for Seagate harddrives uses the spelling "disc". You are probably aware that compact disc is so spelt - regardless of whether it is used for music or computer.

Anyway, I appreciate that you have a preference, Mr Editor, but I draw your attention to what is usual in the Acorn world. My preference is for British English and I'd like to get a RISC PC (Risc station?) sometime. And one of my reasons for that is so that I don't have to put up with American spellings when they are not the norm (here).

How's that for a gripe? Otherwise, you're doing a fine job. For me "No." instead of "#" and "disc" instead of "disk" would hit the spot. Why not make it a feature survey in the next EUG?

I am a little far away to share much with Electron users in the UK but information is something we can share thanks to e-mail. Believe it or not, I don't think I have had an e-mailed response or comment to any of the articles I have ever sent in! I've had letters, and a response or two via the Mailbag column and I have certainly had some correspondence from overseas which I am not sure who initiated. Some of these exchanges have been very helpful. Yet letters by e-mail, the cheapest medium of all, have not eventuated. Our editor is the only exception and that has mainly been additional to what I've submitted to EUG.

Like Alva Parrot, I'd like to see more correspondence by way of letters to the Editor [Like in the good old days! - Ed] on matters of computing interest. How about a survey on who's got what and what it's used for? I still use View, Viewsheet and Viewstore as well as COMMSTAR for e-mails. Anyone else still using these? Better still, has anyone catalogued articles in earlier magazines about the View family of programs? I appreciate that there are also word processors, spreadsheets and databases for the Elk. Wasn't there one written purely for the 64K machine?

Regards to all up there in the northern hemisphere. We're still enjoying a late summer but I don't know for how long.

Alan Richardson

The spelling of "disk/disc" has caused debate a few times in the Letters columns of Acorn User. I recollect the response that the spelling disc would always be maintained therein because it was "so thoroughly ingrained in the Acorn world that it would be impossible to reject it now" (A reader had complained that the American spelling was the norm).

EUG is probably the only Acorn-related magazine which has ever abandoned it and, as you point out, this may not be a good thing. As an addition to why it would be better to "disc", we don't want to confuse new readers into typing *DISK to get the DFS AP4 working and wondering why the response is "Bad command"!

Although I can't speak for the previous Eds, I suspect that my "disk" terminology stems from familiarity with machines like the Amiga, Atari ST and PC where, as you say, it's the norm. However, this is the limit of my defence of it, and as it merely proves your point, and that of the God-like authority of Acorn User, it's really no defence at all. Can anyone come up with a convincing argument against writing "disc" in the future, as Alan suggests? Answers on a postcard please.

However, I do have two arguments for retaining Mr Hash Sign "#" and not replacing him with "No." First, the former is a common abbreviation for the latter. It may technically be pronounced "Mark", so be more suited to utilities which are developing in subsequent versions than the issue number of a magazine but, as it doesn't get used for that (people use "Vx.y"), the inference is "#" is used as a way of writing the issue number.

Second, No. breaks up a sentence and "#" does not. That previous sentence contains two full stops. It looks odd. And how many people read it as "Second, No."? As in "My second reason is No."

I'm sure some readers will be wondering why on earth both of us are picking over these semantics but they're not without importance.

Whilst Stairway To Hell has catalogued almost every Electron game ever released, there is no comparable list of utilities as yet. The 64K database you're probably thinking of is the SHADOW RAM DATABASE by Gareth Boden, HeadFirst PD. It actually appeared on EUG #48.

I suspect View is still popular with most BBC series owners because there was never much on the market to rival it. Starword was not as friendly (in the physical sense of being a ROM, not a ROM cartridge, able to be plugged and unplugged when required) and Mini Office was, um, Mini Office. Nuff said.

What I can help you with is the original Electron User reviews of View and Viewsheet, which appear on the Reviews Menu. As for a complete catalogue covering all back issues of all Acorn magazines, this may come with time, depending on interest.

Dave E