Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Should We Simplify Our Spelling?

The American Literacy Council objects -- and has for a century -- to the way we spell words. English isn't phonetic, and although the kooky spellings sometimes help illuminate the meaning of words (particularly those from Latin), they make it tough for children and immigrants.

SPOGG could not agree more.

While we're sympathetic with those who love the history of language, and while we ourselves are former spelling champions who love to figure out what words might mean based on their parts, we believe language must be about more than tending time capsules.

Language exists so that we can understand each other, and communicate ideas clearly.

When spelling gets in the way of this, it's time to change the way we do things. This is easier said than done, of course. It would be incredibly expensive, and it would be hard on people who've already learned the old-fashioned way. But spelling standardization has happened in the past (most likely in the 1600s, bolstered by the existence of the printing press).

We could leverage the Internet and word-processing software in much the same way, spreading logical English around the globe.

Language should not be a fortress inhabited by the elite, and that's what we've created with our idiosyncratic spelling system.

Visit the American Literacy Council

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