Giving up on commonly misspelled words

Tim

Creative Writer
Joined
Jan 16, 2005
Location
England
#1
It's reached all the way up to university level now. But admittedly many of the words are difficult to spell correctly due to phonetic issues.

I'll be the first to admit that it is weird I spell weird as 'wierd' all the time. But is it really such a big deal?

Dictionaries are guides, not the final say. They are politically biased in many cases. Linguists don't write dictionaries that appear in the publics' hands.

Linguists forgive mistakes as regional variances or simple spelling variances. The phonetic language is more important to them than the written. That is more the literature and publishing areas.

Language changes over time. From latin, germanic and french (itself founded in latin) plus anglo saxon language we see today the english language as used in varying degrees amongst different groups of people. 14% of the country speaks with an RP accent. 30% use Standard English. 'English' is no single ruled language.

Variance in language shouldn't be punishable, although sitting an exam and using txt msg sp33k is still wrong in my book! As well as a classmate who when taking exams at 15 years old, was so stressed with his english literature paper he drew a massive picture of Garfield (the cartoon cat) on his paper and walked out early with a big grin on his face :)

Bad spelling 'should be accepted'


The professor says he corrects the same mistakes year after year

Common spelling mistakes should be accepted into everyday use, not corrected, a professor has said.
Ken Smith says the most common spelling mistakes should simply be accepted as "variant spellings".
He lists the 10 most commonly misspelt words, which include "arguement" for "argument" and "twelth" for "twelfth".
The professor says his proposal, outlined in an article in the Times Higher Education Supplement, follows years of correcting the same mistakes.
Mr Smith, a criminology lecturer at Bucks New University in High Wycombe, listed the 10 words most commonly spelled wrongly by his students.
He said: "Instead of complaining about the state of the education system as we correct the same mistakes year after year, I've got a better idea.



Why can't 'truely' be accepted as a variant spelling of 'truly'?





Ken Smith



"University teachers should simply accept as variant spellings those words our students most commonly misspell.
"The spelling of the word 'judgement', for example, is now widely accepted as a variant of 'judgment', so why can't 'truely' be accepted as a variant spelling of 'truly'?"
Mr Smith also suggested adding the word "misspelt" to the list and all those that break the "i before e" rule - weird, seize, neighbour and foreign.
The professor said he was not asking people to learn to spell words differently.
"All I am suggesting is that we might well put 20 or so of the most commonly misspelt words in the English language on the same footing as those other words that have a widely accepted variant spelling," he added.
 

Tim

Creative Writer
Joined
Jan 16, 2005
Location
England
#3
Actually, no! He is probably right in what he is calling for. The English language is a living, breathing thing and the changes in variation he is pointing out are sensible in many ways.

Over time, there are many other words whose spelling has changed. Why not change these particular words to sensible, modern versions?

He isn't advocating dumbing down of the language, just modern usage. That's why I mentioned txt msg sp33k as what I regard as "wrong" language in most situations, and definitely essays/exams!
 

Kevin

Code Monkey
Staff member
Joined
Mar 20, 2004
Location
Pennsylvania
#4
Heck, why not add "Ebonics" and other deviations to the acceptable English? Language is indeed a living item but it should change as a result of necessity, not because society is more tolerable to ignorance.
 

Mojo

Rocket Ranger
Joined
Jul 29, 2008
#7
Heck, why not add "Ebonics" and other deviations to the acceptable English? Language is indeed a living item but it should change as a result of necessity, not because society is more tolerable to ignorance.
The line between necessity and convenience is a lot fuzzier than you would suspect. Spelling, in particular, is highly arbitrary -- remember that a lot of spellings that you would consider "proper" are, in fact, bastardizations of the correct spelling legitimized by American lexicographer Noah Webster. The only reason we use "color" instead of "colour" is because Mr. Webster decided to "reform" and "Americanize" the language -- how is that any different than what Ken Smith is proposing?

If anything, you should be applauding Smith's proposal for its modest scope... heck, 20 words is nuttin'.
 

Kevin

Code Monkey
Staff member
Joined
Mar 20, 2004
Location
Pennsylvania
#8
The line between necessity and convenience is a lot fuzzier than you would suspect. Spelling, in particular, is highly arbitrary -- remember that a lot of spellings that you would consider "proper" are, in fact, bastardizations of the correct spelling legitimized by American lexicographer Noah Webster. The only reason we use "color" instead of "colour" is because Mr. Webster decided to "reform" and "Americanize" the language -- how is that any different than what Ken Smith is proposing?

If anything, you should be applauding Smith's proposal for its modest scope... heck, 20 words is nuttin'.
Same response as earlier applies; what Ken Smith is proposing is not out of necessity.
 

Mojo

Rocket Ranger
Joined
Jul 29, 2008
#9
Same response as earlier applies; what Ken Smith is proposing is not out of necessity.
Neither was Noah Webster eliminating the "k" at the end of the word "traffic".

And actually, how do you define "necessity" in this case? I guess the Norman conquest made it pretty "necessary" to add in some French words... and you could say that technology has made it "necessary" to add in words like "faxing" and "throughput"... but when was the last time that it was truly "necessary" to change the spelling of a word?
 

Mojo

Rocket Ranger
Joined
Jul 29, 2008
#11
When society has become more tolerant of ignorance and spelling changes are advocated by the likes of Ken Smith, apparently.
Isn't that kind of an elitist attitude? If the vast majority of people seem to prefer to spell "weird" as "wierd"... why do we insist on keeping the archaic spelling?

And it's not merely ignorance at work here... there is the commonsense factor as well. Why should we continue following some of the more arcane guidelines to grammar and punctuation? Who are these people who designate themselves "grammarians" and "lexicographers" to dictate to the rest of society how we can or cannot spell a certain word?
 

Tim

Creative Writer
Joined
Jan 16, 2005
Location
England
#12
They are usually politically motivated in some way. The English language is not held in check like the French Academy does. We change with time. There's a reason we have one million proper and one million improper words in our language.

Spelling variations are nothing. Try telling 70% of England and Wales that they are wrong by using their regional variations and the 30% who speak Standard English are in fact the elitist ones.

There does have to be a level of professionalism at academic level, but the changes mentioned here are not a major crisis. We aren't dealing with trying to allow txt sp33k through! There's a story running around on marking that if you sit a certain exam, write "F**k Off!" on your paper and nothing else, you get 7.5% for writing a complete sentence in context with not wanting to do the exam, aiming it at the establishment.
 

Kevin

Code Monkey
Staff member
Joined
Mar 20, 2004
Location
Pennsylvania
#14
Isn't that kind of an elitist attitude? If the vast majority of people seem to prefer to spell "weird" as "wierd"... why do we insist on keeping the archaic spelling?
Never in my life have I ever found somebody who thought that a proper education, or at least being able to spell, was considered to be an elitist attitude! :eek:

Just... wow.
:eek:
 

Mojo

Rocket Ranger
Joined
Jul 29, 2008
#16
Never in my life have I ever found somebody who thought that a proper education, or at least being able to spell, was considered to be an elitist attitude! :eek:

Just... wow.
:eek:
Well, first of all, I myself have a proper education, and the ability to spell, but I don't think of myself as elitist. The "elitist attitude" I was referencing had to do with the idea that there was a "proper" form of spelling that was superior to what the rest of society might actually use.

I actually wonder if, with the advent of spell check, the ability to spell may go the way of the dodo bird.

And -- full disclosure -- I used to be a high school English teacher, so I do understand the need for good grammar and spelling. I just don't consider myself overly dogmatic about it.
 

Tim

Creative Writer
Joined
Jan 16, 2005
Location
England
#17
Haha, an ex-English teacher and a Linguistics student trounce the day!

I think I upset one of my tutors when I said the main reason I wanted to do the E-Communication module was to learn ways for stopping kids write like they do on internet forums. The tutor for the subject thinks as do many in that field that it is merely another form of the language and its expression and should be 'embraced'.

And most computers I've come across in the schools I've attended have the basic M$ dictionary on them, American English. Only those of us who really know, take the time to install British English dictionaries on our own computers!