Sometimes the smallest things can cause surprising amounts of controversy.
Last week, I replied by text message to an offer of a lift with “I’m quite collectible.” And so it began. “Shouldn’t it be -able?” asked the collector. No, said I, absolutely not. And may I advise you that it is unwise to argue with me on the topic of spelling because I have an annoying habit of being correct. I am entirely sure, one hundred per cent, that it is spelt with an i.
Admittedly, I should have learnt by now that it’s a long way down from such lofty claims.
The conversation reared its head again in the pub, leading one lady, who shall remain nameless, to call me a dunce, finger-draw a capital D on my forehead and suggest that I should stand in the corner. Everyone except me thought it was “-able”. Hmph. Strangely enough, this pub yielded two Collins dictionaries of different sizes – but to my great annoyance, neither collectible nor collectable was listed in either.
And so, the next day, to the trusty OED I went – and it slapped me in the face. Both spellings are listed, but collectable comes first and collectible is a variant, with no distinction made for nouns and adjectives. (I had been considering that perhaps the noun was collectible and the adjective was collectable.) Hmph once more.
So I tried the old Google trick (meaningless, but satisfying nevertheless): collectible gets 24,900,000 results; collectable gets 6,060,000. Ooh, ooh, ooh, so maybe it’s not just me… And then I checked it in the Guardian and The Times style guides. Success!
The Guardian entry merely says “collectible”. The Times says: collectibles (not -ables), items sought by collectors.
My next port of call was Twitter. Considering that my twitterings usually get one or two responses maximum (and usually deafening silence), the reaction was huge. Every bugger has an opinion on this one, it seems.
And in response to my “the Guardian and The Times do it” defence…
Any more for any more? Cast your votes now! I’d be interested to know whether it is indeed a US/UK thing, and also whether there’s a distinction between the noun and the adjective. And if the OED prefers collectable, how come our most respected newspapers use collectible? Anyone?