The Simplified Spelling Society has been advocating for a century to make the spelling of English words easier for children and adults alike. They recently picketed a spelling bee in the
Actually, it isn’t. Sure, we memorize how to spell some words. But the brilliant thing about language is that there are reasons for why things are spelled certain ways, and once you start to understand certain concepts in spelling, spelling unknown words isn’t that hard. With Greek, there are a ton of words I am not familiar with, yet I am able to spell words I’ve never encountered because I’ve picked up on how the Greek alphabet is used. That is a wonderfully deductive part of spelling that many people overlook – and I think it is a part of learning that is crucial to young minds, because it teaches them more than just how to spell, but how to think about how to spell.
The simplifiers want us to spell English words phonetically, because it is just so gosh darn hard to learn how to spell otherwise. Our poor, overworked children have to struggle to learn how to spell, and it is just too difficult. We can’t possibly expect our children to have to work at school, can we? If we spell all words phonetically more children (children who aren’t capable of memorization, apparently) will be able to read. Yet this drive for phonetic spelling irritates the crap out of me, because it suggests that it is only oral language that matters and it devalues the history of our written language. Honestly, if a gun was held to my head and the choice was I could either speak or write the rest of my life but not both, I would much prefer to keep writing. Speaking only works if there is someone to hear us, but we can write alone, for ourselves, or for someone to read later.
Some of the brilliant examples of suggested spelling changes are (for more, click here):
learn – lern
slow – slo
beautiful – butiful
anyone – ennywun
most – moast
simple – simpl
very – verry
Yes, because adding an r where one isn’t needed and spelling moast with an a isn’t more difficult? Not to mention how it looks – as if a half blind troll had wandered in and marked all over your favorite books. Either that or the rejects from the Derek Zoolander Center For Children Who Can't Read Good And Wanna Learn To Do Other Stuff Good Too got hold of some paper.
I realize that languages evolve. I tolerate with interest net speak and SMS speak because it has become a sort of pidgin English that people all over the world can understand and use to communicate with one another. However, it isn’t a permanent substitution for our English language, and hopefully it will never be. I am a great fan of dialectical differences in languages as well, but the core language always remains the same. Words may change here and there – verbs may become adverbs, grammatical functions may change, and American English did simplify its spellings from British English. But the overhaul in spelling these people want to do it is a de-evolution, not an evolution. It would completely eradicate the history of our written language, and I’m afraid I just can’t let that happen.