Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: laissez-faire; laisser-faire.

laissez-faire; laisser-faire. The former spelling has long been standard. Some British publications, however, continue to use the outmoded spelling (“laisser”) — e.g.: o “Should Hongkong’s laisser-faire [read ‘laissez-faire’] government do an about-face to build Hongkong Inc?” “Farewell to Adam Smith,” Economist, 30 Sept.-6 Oct. 1989, at 71. o “This is bonkers, though par for the course for a Bush administration that is all for laisser faire [read ‘laissez-faire’] except when US companies whinge about foreign competition.” Robert Peston, “The Stock Exchange Drops its American Dream,” Sunday Telegraph, 13 Oct. 2002, at 3. The phrase is pronounced /les-ay FAIR/ — not /lah-zay/ or /lay-zay/. For information about the Language-Change Index click here. ——————– Quotation of the Day: “Language stands to speech like a pattern in relation to the garments that can be produced from it, like a musical score in relation to the actual performances of the work, like the rules of chess in relation to the playing of specific chess games. All these analogies emphasize the abstract characteristics of language. But the chess analogy probably best illuminates its rule-governed character.” Martin Montgomery, An Introduction to Language and Society xvi (1986). ====================
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