If you have been out from under your rock lately, you know that there has been all matter of hand-wringing about that dirty movie…Fifty Shades of Grey. There is a lot that should bother us about those books, the movies, and the mothers and grandmothers of America who are not only interested in it but buying it for their young daughters. I consider that child abuse…but that’s for another post.
What is bothering me today, though, is that this book has rocked the literary world in a way no one seems to notice. And that is no one knows how to spell grey. Just about the time everyone is going with GRAY … out comes this tome of trash and swings everyone back over to GREY. I’m tortured by the decision every time I want to write it. I just end up saying something not as black but darker than white. Now who wants to read that? Nobody. I almost had an eye spasm reading it.
So I did a search on the great marketplace of Amazon to see which way manufacturers are going with this dilemma. I was amazed to see…
Yes, Amazon asked me “Did you mean ‘grey'”. No! I meant GRAY… and do you see that the first entry in my search was a book named GRAY! The third entry? Fifty Shades of GREY. So we se that the world is confused on this …this… gray area. (I’m sorry, I couldn’t stop myself.)
So thanks to E L James, who has become wealthy at the expense of class and morality, the English language is embroiled in bondage to a conundrum of greater magnitude than her filthy books.
The Grammarist tells me that either spelling is acceptable. If I were in England, I would more likely be comfortable with grey (the spelling, not the demented abuser of virginal women). If in America, more likely gray. I just wish the world could come together on this matter one way or another.
I can buy Grey Flannel cologne, but I will watch Gregory Peck in The Man In The Gray Flannel Suit. I plan to read John Grishom’s Gray Mountain: A Novel, but not watch Liam Neeson’s The Grey. I’ve never watched Grey’s Anatomy Season 11 (or any season), but now that I’ve noticed the spelling… I’m sure I never will. The Crayola people, whom I consider experts, use the terms “Gray, Gris, Gris”… I’m not sure why gris gets the double mention, it’s neither of the spellings we are examining! (I wish I had had this when I was a kid: Crayola Ultimate Crayon Case, 152-Crayons)
You get the picture. The universe is confused about such matters. I decided the best way to solve my dilemma was to go to the Creator to find out if there was a clear answer.
The beloved King James Version of Proverbs 20:29 says:
The glory of young men is their strength: and the beauty of old men is the grey head.
So I checked the old, yet reliable, American Standard Version.
The glory of young men is their strength; And the beauty of old men is the hoary head.
OK. I have to admit that GREY is better than HOARY. (Though when reading descriptions of the Fifty Shades book a word similar to hoary does run through the mind.)
Thankfully newer translations use GRAY. But culture is like the wind, never settling for long on anything. Hopefully someone will come out with a best selling movie or book and set the record straight on the matter. Until then we will have to just remain accustomed to seeing GRAY and GREY … unless off-black catches on. Which I doubt.
Thanks for reading, JD.
Two previous posts of a more serious nature: