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  1. #1
    Denis Bonner

    a spelling revolution?

    I don't know if anyone saw this article - originally in the Guardian.


    The article begins

    THANK you, Scotland. First John Knox, then the Enlightenment and now the Scottish Qualifications Authority. In a direct challenge to the English at their most reactionary, the authority has declared that it will accept text-messaging short forms in school examinations.

    Well worth taking the trouble to read.

    I'd be interested to hear what others think.

  2. #2
    Prince Louis Richard de la Pau

    Re: a spelling revolution?

    I'm horrified. It took me years to learn that wretched bloody horrible language and now this???

    Aren't children illiterate enough?

    Bloody hell!

    Louis Richard

  3. #3
    Michelle Burtin

    Re: a spelling revolution?

    I am horrified too.

    Here's for easier reading:


    (Denis, just place your address between <> without spaces.)


  4. #4
    Luke Murphy

    Re: a spelling revolution?

    I still don't know it!!!

  5. #5
    Hanuman Kavidevi

    Re: a spelling revolution?

    Do people have less brain mass than fifty years ago? Everywhere I go I am surrounded by people who are supposedly skilled at this and that but have the language and communication skills of a five-year-old. The psychological and intellectual benefits of learning one's language (English, in this case) are too valuable to miss because of poor education. Rote memorization of words with silent letters, different letter combinations that create similar sounds, rules of grammar, the power of manipulating language to express very subtle thoughts and feelings are all fundamental to the development of a thinking human being. I guess "thinking" is the key word here. Maybe those in control of the educational process just don't want to spawn a race of people who can think clearly and communicate powerfully with each other.

    Anyone without significant brain damage can learn and master any number of languages that they care to. There is no ethical or pragmatic excuse for not mastering at least one's own (or at least the official language of one's country). Even with a little education in a language, a lot of knowledge and skill in it can be gained simply by doing a lot of reading. No one of any age has the excuse to not be doing that unless they live in a rotting village with no water, electricity, etc.

    I sometimes get into a rut, thinking that we're entering the next dark age during which only a few are able to function, and desirous of functioning, on the level of the great philosophers, authors, artists, etc., and the rest of the world will be functionally illiterate techno freaks hypnotized under the spell of instant digital feedback, and those who do know language, math, etc., but are not culture bearers are feeding off of the incapable masses. The last part is nothing new, but with high technology control is ever more effective.

  6. #6
    Joe Zeff

    Re: a spelling revolution?

    Professor Henry Higgins said it best, over a century ago:

    ...Arabians learn Arabian,
    And the Greeks all learn their Greek,
    Use proper English you're regarded as a freak,
    Oh, why can't the English,
    Why Can't the English,
    Learn to,
    Set a good example,
    And learn to speak!

  7. #7
    Mya Bell

    Re: a spelling revolution?

    Actually, I'm in favor of making spelling more phonetic. Extra silent letters (other than those that modify) contribute nothing to the logic of the language or the sense of a word. It's persistence of an archaic form and a thorn in the side of those with dyslexia.

    But, text messaging has very little to do with making things more phonetic. I'm not sure why the person who wrote the article devoted two-thirds of the piece to arguing for more phonetic spelling when text messaging is quite another animal---phoneticism is a by-product, not a goal of text messaing.

    Text messaging is more akin to computer languages in some ways. It has certain characteristics in common with Unix---a sort of textual "Jive talk."

    How a teacher could comfortably and unambiguously interpret text message answers is beyond me, however, since it's not a standardized system, but more of a graffiti approach to communication. Some symbols are common, yes, but there's a lot of leeway.

    As for engaging the brain, text message "Jive" does that rather well. You have to think about both the sense and sound of the word and then interpret your understanding into something short and recognizable, The quest is sometimes even humorous and oblique, like a visual or linguistic puzzle.

    I think it's good for working out the brain cells but not necessarily a good way to answer questions on an exam. Too much of text jive is interpretive. I can imagine students lining up to argue with teachers, explaining that they "meant" a certain answer when in fact they are fudging their argument to try to get a higher grade.

    Will text messaging revolutionize English? I doubt it. In a couple of years handheld computers will be so powerful that text messaging will "expand" as the storage capacity and sentence space of the systems increases. Some of the more common abbreviations will become colloquial, and emoticons will probably be around for sometime but the current form isn't set in stone by any means. In fact, it will probably be replaced by picturephones in a few years.

    --- Mya Bell

  8. #8
    Anthony Ravenscroft

    Re: a spelling revolution?

    The problem with make-it-up-as-you-go language is that portability is a problem, & there's little room for archiving. It'd be like basing our language on what's in the headlines of the Sunday New York Times -- if you don't have the paper handy, you can only apprehend a fraction of the message depth, & after a while might find that there are thoughts or feelings that cannot be expressed by any of the headlines. (Yes, I've been studying linguistics & cryptography for 40 years.)

    There's jargon that's meant as a functional (content-bearing) shorthand between peers or colleagues, & there's jargon that's meant to exclude or demarcate. The latter is transient & faddish, rarely having any further effect.

    IM is the new Ebonics.

    Rule of thumb: when children of upper-middle suburban Yuppies start saying it, it's been dead for a couple of years. Hence: def, phat, bling, sick,

    I don't care if my kids wear their thumbs to nubs... so long as they can write intelligibly & speak grammatically.

    Let the weaklings fall by the roadside! And if parents want to help reduce the challenge to their poor little babies (so that there's more time for sports)... well: run, lemmings, run.

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