Mighty Red Pen

June 7, 2008

Decor vs décor

Filed under: Overseen,Spellbound — mighty red pen @ 1:04 pm
Tags: ,

When I first read this query from MRP reader Ms. Vickie, it didn’t seem like there was much to the question. She sent in something she’d seen on wave3.com, the website for WAVE 3 TV, Louisville, Kentucky:

Newport restaurant closing over lawsuit

“Ruby said changing the name of the restaurant isn’t an option because it would require a change in décor or concept. “

Ms. Vickie questioned the spelling of the word decor:

I don’t believe I have ever seen the word “decor” written that way!

In fact, the spelling of decor with or without an accent is quite common, but when I happened to just do a little checking around, I unearthed this little tidbit of information in the Columbia Guide to Standard American English:

decor, décor (n.)

is a French word meaning “the scheme of decoration (of a room).” It’s in divided usage in both spelling (either with or without the acute accent mark) and pronunciation (either with the main stress on the second syllable, approximating the French sound, dai-KOR, or with the stress anglicized to fall on the first syllable: DAI-kor).

Now, dictionary.com prefers décor for spelling, but is agnostic on pronunciation, while the American Heritage Dictionary is agnostic on both issues. What do you prefer, either spelling or pronunciation-wise, and why?

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Update: Ms. Vickie wrote back to clarify that it was not the spelling décor she was wondering about, it was what she actually saw on the screen. She kindly sent along this screen shot:

This is not an unusual spelling of decor/décor, but a minor case of the accent not reading correctly and being rendered as a series of symbols. Either way, thanks to Ms. Vickie for something to think about. 

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