A copy-editing blog covering grammar and newspapers like they're going out of style.
posted by Nicole @ 2:49 PM
It's funny (daily passes!), but is it a typo? "Busses" is an acceptable plural for "bus" in the real world — unless, of course, the bus line's style manual decrees otherwise.
Typo is probably the wrong word, but "buses" is certainly preferred to "busses." If the signmakers could explain to me some reason they went with the double-s, I'd love to hear them out. Methinks it was ignorance or carelessness.
It must be a Colorado thing. When I lived in Fort Collins, my favorite little coffee shop had a sign that said “Thank you for bussing your own table.” (Ew.)… Now you’ve intensified my homesickness with your mention of Colorado hiking. Part of my soul still walks the rim of the Comanche (cq) Peak cirque.
A few years ago our paper called out a local school district because of a "busses" sign; we suggested that educators, of all people, should know better. A district official fired off a letter pointing out that "busses" is just fine, according to the dictionary he cited (I don't recall which one). For us, it was a lost battle. To come back with "But our stylebook and dictionary say 'buses' is right" makes us sound like schoolmarms or, worse yet, snobs. A good editor would never use "busses," of course, but it's a good example that not everybody plays by our rules.
You think that's bad? There's a billboard for South of the Border on 95 that says, "Buss'es welcome." *Shudder*
That's just us in South Carolina wanting to make sure the world understands both syll'ables are pronounced separately. :)
Here's my problem: Though I was born in 1954 (surprise!) and my mother had told me of the word "buss," I hadn't seen much of it before the AP Stylebook warned me (I first saw one in 1992) about distinguishing the plural of "bus" from that of "buss." And when I see "buses," I still hear "byooses." So I can't get all upset when signs follow an acceptable alternate plural for "bus." Does any respectable dictionary warn against "busses" for "buses"? M-W, AHD and New World seem to put "busses" in the second position without any tut-tutting.Usage manuals such as Garner's GMAU, of course, are less liberal. But that's another ball game. (Btw, the OED gives "buss" as an alternate singular spelling for "bus.")
Good points, AParker. Another variable in the mix is the question of whether anyone under the age of 109 still uses the word buss anyway. If not, busses as a plural of bus is highly unlikely to cause any miscues, especially when it's used in context.
Yes, it's highly unlikely that many would notice and/or care. But why give even 0.1 percent of your readers reason to pause?
I'll tell you one person who notices and cares: me. Spell it "buses," like God intended.
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I expect that the counterintuitive plural buses (rhymes with fuses?) and its kindred inflected verb forms cause more readers to pause than busses, bussed, bussing would. This is another style rule that may be ready for the shibboleth heap before long.
Ancient folks like myself can remember the 1970s spelling debate about busing and bussing in regards to African American school students.
Any links, Paul? Or further details?
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