Saturday, August 9, 2008

Spelling "truely atrosious," says academic

From the UK

Fed up with his students' complete inability to spell common English correctly, a British academic has suggested it may be time to accept "variant spellings" as legitimate.

Rather than grammarians getting in a huff about "argument" being spelled "arguement" or "opportunity" as "opertunity," why not accept anything that's phonetically (fonetickly anyone?) correct as long as it can be understood?

To kickstart his proposal, Smith suggested 10 common misspellings that should immediately be accepted into the pantheon of variants, including "ignor," "occured," "thier," "truely," "speach" and "twelth" (it should be "twelfth").

Amazing, isn't it? Instead of railing against the poor primary and secondary education these children are receiving, he suggests lowering tertiary educational standards.


Laura said...

I kind of like Twain's take on it all. He was a big proponent for simplified spelling.

The Atlanta Constitution, April 22, 1906, p. E3


Mark Twain does not believe that the project of the Carnegie spelling reformers will succeed. "It won't happen," he says, "and I am sorry as a dog. For I do love revolutions and violence." He believes, however, that the reform could be made effective if it were done "by a sudden and comprehensive rush"; but he doubts if the effort at a slow and gradual change is worth while. "It is," he says, "the sudden changes in principles, morals, religious, fashions, and tastes that have the best chance of winning in our day. Suppose all the newspapers and periodicals should suddenly adopt a Carnegian system of phonetic spelling--what would happen? We all know quite well what would happen. To begin with, the nation would be in a rage; it would break into a storm of scoffs, jeers, sarcasms, cursings, vituperations, and keep it up for months--but it would have to read the papers; it couldn't help itself. By and by, and gradually, the offensive phonetics would lose something of their strange and uncanny look; after another by and by they would lose all of it, and begin to look rather natural and pleasant; after a couple of years of this, the nation would think them handsome, sane, and expressive, and would prefer them to any other breed of spelling."

But then he wrote this, so I think he saw how ridiculous it could become...and yet, I can still read this ! Sort of.

A Plan for the Improvement of English Spelling

by Mark Twain

For example, in Year 1 that useless letter "c" would be dropped to be replased either by "k" or "s," and likewise "x" would no longer be part of the alphabet. The only kase in which "c" would be retained would be the "ch" formation, which will be dealt with later. Year 2 might reform "w" spelling, so that "which" and "one" would take the same konsonant, wile Year 3 might well abolish "y" replasing it with "i" and Iear 4 might fiks the "g/j" anomali wonse and for all.

Jenerally, then, the improvement would kontinue iear bai iear with Iear 5 doing awai with useless double konsonants, and Iears 6-12 or so modifaiing vowlz and the rimeining voist and unvoist konsonants. Bai Iear 15 or sou, it wud fainali bi posibl tu meik ius ov thi ridandant letez "c," "y" and "x"--bai now jast a memori in the maindz ov ould doderez--tu riplais "ch," "sh," and "th" rispektivli.

Fainali, xen, aafte sam 20 iers ov orxogrefkl riform, wi wud hev a lojikl, kohirnt speling in ius xrewawt xe Ingliy-spiking werld.

Kris said...

Hilarious! Would this, by chance, be the same guy who came up with the idea of not keeping score in kids' sports? I mean, why take the opportunity to teach kids to be gracious in winning AND losing when you can just ignore the whole thing and make sure that no one gets their feelings hurt? ;-)

Louise said...

Welcome to Britain of the 21st century.