I have mentioned that I have a bad habit of buying and collecting books on grammar and usage. For me, a new or updated usage book is like the newest iGadget to many tech fans: I must have it. Yet, I had resisted buying the new version of my favorite usage guide, "Garner's Modern American Usage." I have the 2003 version and an older edition that was heavily damaged in transit but still usable. I just didn't want to shell out the bucks for the third edition, published last year.
I have caved. A copy has been added to my stuffed shelves. And I have already consulted it. (More on that in paragraph 3.) I will not write a review of Bryan A. Garner's book because I haven't yet delved extensively into it and because I don't think my puny efforts would be worthy of such a wonderful resource. I do recommend it, though -- highly. If I had to give up some of my grammar and usage books. Garner's is one I would keep. A fellow blogger, John McIntyre, wrote about Garner last fall. You can read his post here.
Now for my first use of the new volume: I ran across the word sellable in a Time magazine article ("Don't Become Irreplaceable," John Warrilow, April 12, 2010). The author uses the word twice in the article. I thought the word was salable, which doesn't seem as likely a spelling. That might be why the sellable stood out for me. I had worked hard to commit salable to memory.
I turned to the new Garner's. The entry for salable, saleable and sellable notes that salable is the preferred spelling in American English, saleable in British English. "Sellable, arguably a more logical form, was formerly used by some writers but never gain widespread currency."
Thank you, Mr. Garner.
One good thing about having both the 2003 and the 2009 editions is that I can keep one on my desk at work and one on my shelf at home.
By the way, Garner's primary focus has been teaching lawyers how to write clear and concise prose. His Web site is LawProse.org.