I hate being wrong. Prob­a­bly no one likes it very much. I know that being wrong is part of the sci­en­tif­ic process and that many sci­en­tists delight in being wrong. I can relate to that. I tend to love new dis­cov­er­ies. But new dis­cov­er­ies also tend to be some­thing I’ve inten­tion­al­ly ques­tioned, per­haps even knew I did not know. I get frus­trat­ed when I dis­cov­er that some­thing I was absolute­ly cer­tain was true sim­ply is not so.

In the case of perquisite I have often held that the prop­er way to short­en the word to an infor­mal ver­sion was to take the first four let­ters: perq. It has grat­ed on me to see in print peo­ple spelling the word for a fringe ben­e­fit with a k as in «the job has its perks».

Today hav­ing read the word in Git for Humans by David Dema­ree I decid­ed I ought to look it up and see if either of my handy dic­tio­nar­ies includ­ed perk as an alter­nate spelling. I half sus­pect­ed that nei­ther perk nor perq would appear.

Imag­ine my sur­prise to learn that both Cham­bers and OED list perk as an alter­na­tive to perquisite. Nei­ther lists perq at all. To add fur­ther insult, Oxford Amer­i­can lists perquisite as a for­mal alter­nate to perk rather than the oth­er way around.

What irks me about it is that perq seems most log­i­cal. Spelling it with a q dif­fer­en­ti­ates the word from the oth­er mean­ings of perk, and is actu­al­ly a trun­ca­tion of the spelling, requir­ing no addi­tion of let­ters absent from the orig­i­nal word. But lan­guages’ log­ic does not always fol­low a direct path.

Ain’t that an understatement?