If it makes you feel any better, that's how I would've spelled it, and I used to write for Wisconsin Public Radio.
Hidden Secret: No one does. And if they tell you they do, they're lying. They just know different parts than you do of the imperfect whole.
Case in Point: My use of the phrase "wail on" in today's strip. Growing up in Southern California, I always heard surfers use the phrase to describe punishing surf. I thought I was using a slang phrase correctly with "wail", but I had a dozen professors and professional editors pounce on me this morning. In the interest of sharing, here's how my intensive, five seconds of subsequent research netted out:
Apparently, there are two official ways it works: Both whaling on and waling on. I honestly didn't even realize it had been codified, and thought I was using some street-slang form: waling on. As it turns out, all I ended up doing was picking the one conceivable form where it *doesn't* officially work! :)
Interestingly, if you type in "wail on" into Google (always useful to see how commonly used a phrase is in everyday life -- English ain't following L'Academie francaise rule book, after all), you get 366,000 matches.
Typing "whale on" gets you 7,500,000 matches.
And typing "wale on" gets you 2,670,000 matches.
So there you have it! Even in the court of public opinion, I failed utterly, and picked the absolute worst option of the three. English: It's Awesome!
These people know what they're talking about [upenn.edu]. And they're not afraid to tell you you're wrong - but they're more likely to rip people, who do tell you you're wrong, a new one. If you're not actually wrong, of course.
And this demonstrates once again that people need to stop being to so falderah-ing hung up on orthography and just let the words flow. Simplified spelling FTW!
That's how I would have written it as well (but I'm not nearly as professional a writer as anybody else...I just proof read any YouTube comments I make before I submit them ;-) )! Screw professors and editors....if I read "[Thor] mostly just whales on guys with his hammer" I would wonder why the Norse god of Thunder had taken up the illegal activity of hunting whales for their blubber! If I hear about someone wailing on something or someone else, I correctly ascertain a wicked beating or thrashing (wailing guitar solo, Bobby totally wailed on Ricky, etc).
Keep the faith brother! NOBODY really knows how to speak English and God's a redneck! ;)
Ooh. An excuse to show off shiny language credentials! I have BAs in German and Japanese language, and a MA in Japan Studies from a German university. Might not seem so relevant, but it turns out that you learn a pile about English when you spend so much time learning other languages.
So I feel like I'm at least reasonably well qualified to have no idea what I'm talking about when I say that I have always spelled the word "wailing" in my head - though this is the first time I can recall seeing it written. Like a previous commenter, I see "whaling" as describing a completely different activity, and "waling" looks to me like it should be pronounced "wah-ling." Like, I dunno, some kind of whiny cod?
And as long as we're on the topic of language: yours rocks. Sheldon is one of the few comics that I enjoy reading simply for the manner in which the characters say what they say. Keep up the awesome work!
'Wailing on' always seemed to make the most sense to me as it describes part of the action being performed. I always figured the act of "wailing on" would be the short form of "causeing someone to wail out in pain".
Just my take on it.
If you actually look at the searches, most of the results for "whale on" are sentences like "beached whale on shore" or "twitter fail whale on flicker". The "wail on" results tend to be the ones using the phrase "wail on."
In my mind, you can't whale on somebody if you don't have a harpoon in hand.
One thing I've come to admire about language is its anarchic nature. If enough people use it a certain way, that becomes the standard or official version, and it doesn't matter how many English professors or teachers argue that it's wrong. I suspect that this is more so true of English than other languages.
"English: the official Mish-Mash of the World"
When it comes to communication, it's more important to use language that your audience will understand, and not necessarily what's "right".
Thats really true. Its why you have English-English and American-English. Labor, labour, etc.
Heck, what Shakespeare introduced an estimated 1700 words just himself or so I hear :)
Wail on just needs to be used in popular literature enough and it will soon be added to the dictionary!
Anyone remember the potato, potatoe debacle?