Tuesday, 11 March 2008

The mad, bad and dangerous world of British-English Spelling

I think it was Mark Twain who once wrote 'I don't give a damn for a man who can only spell a word one way.' Often my problem has been that the one way I do know is, according to dictat, "incorrect." The irregularity of British-English spelling has tormented children (and adults like me) for years. Personally, I long for the days when you could spell a word according to the mood you were in - and no one cared! But if a rule must be applied - let it be the aphabetical principle, which dictates that generally you should spell a word the way it is pronounced. And if the pronunciation changes - so should the spelling! Unfortunately I can't see reform coming any time soon. But it should. And here is one reason why.


video

8 comments:

Dan said...

English spelling is pretty mad, isn't it? My boys are 6 and well into their phonics at primary school but it's the bizarre exceptions to phonics rules that make life so difficult for lots of kids (and adults).

There is, I suppose, more to spelling than how words sound: there are certain patterns of spelling that help us see a word's possible meanings and etymology. Keith Davidson in an edition of the NATE magazine put forward some quite good points about the word "phonics" which he suggests could be spelt as "fonix" but then we'd lose it's "ph" which tells us it's probably to do with sounds.

And more to teh point, why doesn't every keyboard automatically correct my typing of "teh" when I mean "the"?

Dan said...

And I can't use apostrophes (it's) either - sorry.

Shane said...

Don't get me started on apostrophes Dan...

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