A man in the Cambodian second-city of Battambang has reported that he became confused over the weekend , when he started thinking about the word 'millennium'.
Moys Kenwood, 54, claims he has always had trouble with this word and other words which he does not have to think about very often. Said he:
"It's not a particularly difficult word, at only ten letters, but the question always arises as to how many times the letter 'n' should appear in it."
It's a common problem.
English is a very strange language, and there is a proliferation of words with confusing spellings. Kenwood again:
"If we use 'n' twice in 'millennium', why is there only one 'n' in 'millionaire'? To further confuse things, there is the question of why there are two in 'questionnaire'!"
The flummoxed Englishman also confessed that he didn't understand why, when many people tend to use 'further', they don't use 'farther'. This, he says, is especially so when they need to express 'a greater distance'. Even the Oxford English Dictionary lists 'further' as:
"...1. more distant in space or time."
Kenwood disagreed, arguing:
"Personally, I regard 'farther' as being relative to 'space', and 'further' as being relative to 'a greater extent' or 'more'. Furthermore, 'farthest', not 'furthest', is the word I would use to describe a geographical point that is the greatest distance from the point on which I am now standing."
He went further, not farther:
"I would use 'further' to back up, or consolidate, a point I had made earlier with more supporting evidence. Likewise, if I wish to expand upon a particular point, to 'say something more' about something, I would use 'further', but I seem to be going against the OED on this, so they are wrong."
Another thing that is often misunderstood, according to Kenwood, is, if the prefix 'in' usually means 'not' - as in the words 'inexpensive' and 'infrequent' - why do the words 'flammable' and 'inflammable' have the same meaning?
Bamber Gascoigne is 83.