|Language in use||
English Language & Linguistics
More issues and solutions
There is certainly an element of social inequality and of embarrassment, between those who can spell and those who can't. Do you notice the spelling error below? Did you think that this might be a track leading to a church? Do you smile at the error ? Is this because it's intrinsically funny - or because you feel superior to the writer? Why do we laugh at homophones such as bridal / bridle?
Although spelling errors are certainly more likely to be a social problem rather than one of communication (and one which is to some extent being overcome by spelling and grammar checkers) there remains in some people's minds a link between bad spelling and lack of intelligence. For many, perhaps most, people good spelling remains a mark of excellence. But should it be? Is spelling really a handicap to understanding? What can we do to solve the problem? Is a phonetic system the answer?
The mis-spelling of minutes was mocked by newspapers partly because it was in a car park in Cambridge "renowned for being a seat of learning" [The Times] . This seems to reinforce the link between academic learning and spelling ability - even though it was National Car Park road workers (who may not have attended the university) who painted the sign. The story gained traction because the original error was left for two years then repainted with exactly the same error.
Another example, this time from the USA. Dan Quayle, one-time vice-president of the United States, "corrected" a 12 year old boy's spelling of "potato", telling him it ended in an "e". A New Jersey teacher commented:
What's going on in this Twitter exchange between an online "troll" and the author Salman Rushdie, infamous for the book Midnight's Children, widely viewed as being anti-muslim.
of the alphabet
The origins of our spelling lie in an originally near-phonetic system which has been fossilised in its written form while change has continued in the spoken form. In addition, several different sets of guidelines have been used at different times to represent sounds on the page - the original Anglo-Saxon conventions differing significantly from the invading Normans and all the later loan words from elsewhere around the world.
By adopting a phonetic approach we would make homophones into homonyms - apart from context there would be no differentiation between such words either when spoken or written and the number of homonyms would be much greater than today.
in spelling is caused by printing, education and dictionaries, all of
which have the effect of supporting the status quo and restricting change.
Change is desired but
A likely solution would be non-radical so as not to affront existing users or make existing texts redundant, gradual so as to be flexible and to grow with young users, use the existing alphabet so that existing keyboards would not be redundant, and based on phonetic simplification. I suggest that the American model is already taking over by stealth by way of imported culture, advertising, goods and global communications dominated by the USA.
Meihem In Ce Klasrum. by Dolton Edwards (1946) also known as Kaos in ce klasrum, Euro-English etc
Historical legacy. A thorough, analytical, yet very readable book by David Crystal, is Spell It Out - The Singular Story of English Spelling.
Another page on spelling problems and issues
A n article about the Simplified Spelling Society