Pedantry: one of the perqs of writing for Catholic Light


I keep seeing the word "perks" to describe special privileges, such as: "A free parking space is one of the perks of the job." It should be perqs, as in "perquisites":

Etymology: Middle English, property acquired by means other than inheritance, from Medieval Latin perquisitum, from neuter of perquisitus, past participle of perquirere to purchase, acquire, from Latin, to search for thoroughly, from per- thoroughly + quaerere to seek
1 : a privilege, gain, or profit incidental to regular salary or wages; especially : one expected or promised
3 : something held or claimed as an exclusive right or possession


Here's a tip:

Don't smoke in bed.


Except that perq isn't on and perk is. Besides, perq violates the u-must-com-after-q rule.

That should've been the u-must-come-after-q rule. Sorry.

Ah, but "perk" as an abbreviation to "perquisite" isn't in M-W, and even if it were, they would be wrong.

Main Entry: 3perk
Function: noun
: PERQUISITE -- usually used in plural

It's there. Just click on the third option.

Perq isn't idiomatic English, as I said before. If you really want to spell it with a q, you should spell it perque. Either way you'll be wrong, but at least perque looks like it belongs in the English language.

You're so right, Coward. Now back to the news from Iraque....

Iraq is a foreign-language proper noun. Rules of English apply very loosely if it all.

And "perque" would look too much like French.

Sorry, Eric, but it's a fallacy to argue spelling rationalistically or from etymology -- there is no "ought" involved, only conventions. So "p-e-r-k" because that's what it is.


>>>And "perque" would look too much like French.

Or maybe Latin. :-)

In Jesu et Maria,

Though in Latin I think "perque" would mean "and through" or something like that (per=through, que=and). Very different from perquisitum.

In Jesu et Maria,

And "perque" would look too much like French.

So what? A whole lot of our language looks like French. In fact, every time you spell a word with a silent e at the end, you're making it look like French.

When I first entered the workforce a little over 20 years ago, it was common in job advertisements to see 'perq' or 'perquisite'. Over time, the usage has shifted almost exclusively to 'perk'.

Language changes, so it is not surprising to see the dictionary add this meaning to 'perk', but I am surprised that 'perq' is not listed.

Rosemarie: But the pronunciation PURK, along with the spelling, would be possible in French, but not in Latin, where "que" would be a syllable in its own right (pur-KWAY or pur-KAY or somesuch).

Coward: Reducing the frog influence on our language and culture is an absolute moral imperative and nothing avoidable (meaning changes in Middle English 500 years ago have tenure by now) should be done now.

"Iraq" is a foreign-language noun from a foreign alphabet. By your lights, Victor, we should be spelling it "Irak" know, like the Phrogs do.


I agree that we should keep it perk, but I still think perque is preferable to perq. It's close, but I'd prefer an English word that looks French than an English word that looks Arabic.


I disagree. 'Perq' is a more natural form. In any case, it has been in use too long to change it now.

I disagree. 'Perq' is a more natural form. In any case, it has been in use too long to change it now.

If it ever was common, it certainly isn't now. My Websters Unabridged doesn't even have that perq!

Perq isn't more natural. We have three letters that make the same sound: 'c', 'k', and 'q' (the 'u' adds the 'w' sound since 'u' and 'v' were the same letter in the Latin alphabet and 'v' sounded like our 'w'). 'q' is only used before 'u' (except in foreign words like Iraq). If you want a 'q' at the end, you have to add a 'u' and also a silent 'e', since English words don't like to end in 'u' (I know there are some that do, of course).

I think that for abbreviated forms, an exception to the "u" rule makes sense, though.

Coward wrote:

"In fact, every time you spell a word with a silent e at the end, you're making it look like French."

Hmm ... I don't think so.


I mean, those words certainly LOOK French, but I don't think any of those spellings is correct.

Game, set and match to Victor.


I guess I wasn't clear. I meant all words that end in silent e's look French.

Victor - you take him high, I'll take him low.

Bake - Old English
Gale - origin unknown
Galore - Irish Gaelic
Giraffe - Italian
Here - middle English
Knife - old English
Late - old English
Make - old English
Mere - old English
Shale - old English
Trundle - old English
Vice - Ok, that's French, but don't it figure?
White - Old English

Looks can be deceptive? (Deceptive - a modern English adjectival use of a Middle French word.)

And perque would be a modern English abbreviation of a Latin word with the 'u' retained and the 'e' added to comply with English norms. Perquisite didn't even come through French. Victor's the one who requires that nothing even look French, even if it isn't (like perque).

I think Mark you should have said you'll go high and I'll go low, since my post was about as "low" as it gets.

Somewhat more seriously, I read somewhere (I think the book of the Robert MacNeil PBS series The Story of English) that in the famous last paragraph in Churchill's "we will fight them on the hills" speech, every word can be traced back to Old English. With one exception, traceable to Norman French. From the phrase "We shall never surrender." Three guesses which one is from French. Two don't count.

Confidence, liberation, and defend are Old English? While I don't think any of them came through French, they are certainly all from Latin (from confidentia, liberatio, and defendo respectively). I see looking at that I am wrong; defend did come through Old French.


You are right. I checked "The Story of English" when I got home, and I was both correct and incorrect.

Correct in the sense that I was remembering where I had heard "this." Incorrect in the sense that the "this" referred only to the five-clause series of incantations that begin with "we shall fight on the beaches" and ending with the word "surrender." The three words cast doubt upon are all elsewhere in the passage.

My apologies.

But still ... no slander of the Phrensh is inappropriate (or possible) in my opinion

Two such diverse writing coaches as Jacque Barzun and John Gardner have said that when writing for impact, it's best to use short words with Old English origins. Barzun went so far as to say that if you write with long words of Latin or French origin it dilutes meaning. That pretty well shoots William F. Buckley in the dictionary, doncha think?


Understood. Interestingly enough, street, which is used in those clauses, is from Latin (from strata), but it came through Old English. That's very odd, though not unheard of. Bishop came to us from the Latin episcopus via Old English; the first time I read that I simply couldn't believe it, since the words look so different.


What's even stranger about "strata" is this. It found its way (I'm assuming) into German (strasse) and Dutch (straat) as well as English. (Though curiously, not Swedish or Danish.)

But among the Romance languages, while it definitely is in Italian (strada), I don't believe it's in Spanish (ordinary word is "calle"), Portuguese (rua) or French (rue).

"Episcopus" is originally from the Greek.


There's a fundamental difference in rhetorical styles between the written word and the spoken word. Buckley's style can work well in print (it is more demanding of the reader than most). But he is, in my opinion and experience, a pretty bad speechgiver, for exactly the reason you state.

Since my native language is English and I really can't speak any others, one of the things about languages is the difference in rhetorical styles. (English defines the world for me, in other words, so foreign-speakers are inextricably Other.) It's my understanding that what you say is considered conventional wisdom among us Anglo-Saxons, but not among users of German and French (I'm actually saying this with a straight face, not engaged in frog-hate). I'm told they have a different view of what constitutes effective rhetoric, prizing erudition and bombast more than we do. And based on my readings (and it comes through even in translation) a bunch of people from Flaubert, Rousseau and Derrida to Weber, Kant and Heidegger -- this generalization seems justified.

I've also read wild speculation that this longstanding Anglo-Saxon disinterest in grand rhetoric and ostentatious intellect is one reason, among many obviously, for the moderation and stability of Anglo-Saxon politics in modern times. And it IS pretty clear that communism, fascism and every form of illiberal radicalism were never big box office in the English-speaking world, as opposed to the continent.

"Episcopus" is originally from the Greek.

True, episcopus comes from the Greek episkopos. I could have clarified that, but didn't think it was that important at the time.

In the interest of furthering the discussion which barely got going, namely whether using a French-looking form like perque is superior to using an Arabic-looking form like perq or vice-versa, I will borrow (and mutilate) a quote from Victor Morton from another thread:

"...Frenchness at least CAN be accommodated within Western Civ (as a private sin, a pastoral issue and a source of culture), because ... well at some or another sense, it always has been a part of Western Civ.

In contrast, Arabicness (Arabicity?) is by nature and self-understanding an all-conquering Other waiting to remake West in the Image of Arabic and rename Rome as it did Constantinople."

Thus I think it is clearly more beneficial to western civilization, not to mention proper English idiom, to favor perque over perq (if one simply must have a 'q', that is).

Since I first heard the words 'perk' and 'perquisite' from British sources, I've had the impression that they are both "chiefly Brit." with Americans more likely to refer to such blandishments as 'fringe benefits'. Does anyone else agree?

By the way, Eric, rationalism is a heresy. Please recant.


Similar to the Churchill speech: One of my English professors in college told us that the beginning of the Gettysburg Address consists entirely of words with Old English origins up to the word "liberty". He, too, was making the point that words of Germanic origin are supposedly better for speeches than those of Latin origin.

In Jesu et Maria,

Well, only up to "continent".

The St. Crispin's Day speech shows the effect well; it has relatively few words of Latin origin.

I can forgive many things, Richard. But not linking to Open Source Shakespeare when you're talking about that speech is downright unforgivable.

Hey, no fair quoting my words back at me. Any comparison between France and homosexuality is libelous to the homos.

The difference though is that Frenchness is the source of Jacobinism, Jean-Luc Godard, post-structuralism, Le Car, Simone de Beauvoir, Vichy, Maginot Line military tactics, bad hygiene, cowardice, and anti-American snobbery. France is a part of Western Civ only in the sense that shite is part of the body. Or maybe a parasite -- inside it, but there merely to infect the host.

Homosexuality is the source of, at worst, frumpy softball players, bad show tunes and the continuing late career of Cher.

France is intrinsically evil, while homosexuality ... wait ... let me think that through again.

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