The thing that has me down about the whole busing debate in Arlington Public Schools is that I hate how “busing” is spelled. It’s one of the billions of rule-abusing words in the English language. I mean, clearly, “busing” should be pronounced something closer to “boozing,” with a double-O “oooo” sound rather than like “tussle” with the soft vowel “us” sound preceding a double-consonant.
For instance, my kids go tubing behind the boat in the summer and down the snow-covered hill in winter. Clearly, the single-b spelling produces the “tooobing” sound, not “tubbing.” Tubbing would look ridiculous--getting dragged behind a boat in a fiberglass oval. You’d be lucky to keep the thing afloat. No one goes to the lake to go “tubbing,” unless there’s a hot tub on shore.
So every part of my being wants to spell it “bussing.” Can’t help it. And sometimes I give in. And then sometimes I miss the typo in my proofreading.
You know why?
Well, for the reasons above, but also because both Google Docs, where I type and edit stories, and the dictionary in Metropublisher that I use to spell check before posting a story, consider “bussing” a proper spelling. (Metropub’s dictionary actually considers it THE proper spelling, highlighting “busing” as wrong--which is why we never rely on spell check.)
Bussing (and busses) is, according to the dictionaries I consulted (both print and online), an acceptable alternative, used interchangeably.
I’m wondering if Google and Metropub prefer this spelling because computer geeks use “bussing” in their parlance. The USB port on computers is short of Universal Serial Bus, perhaps there is a use for the word “bussing” when programming. Perhaps “bussing” is a tad more continental. English-speaking Germans might prefer to go with the double-s. The Sydney Morning Herald down under, prefers that spelling. I must admit, however, that I had to go to Australia to find a news outlet that prefers “bussing.”
The reason: “bussing” is not AP style. The Associated Press publishes a stylebook which is the guide on how to spell thousands of words for print in newspapers nationwide. Most news outlets in the country, including this one, follow AP style rules, such as capitalizing Internet, and referring to “websites,” not “web sites.” The New York Times, the Washington Post and other large metro dailies have extensive stylebooks on their own, but most papers nationwide adhere rather closely to AP style.