Monday, September 08, 2008


We had a couple of options for stories today, after we'd waded through a pile of them. In one, we were prepared to mock overly sensitive driving instructors for failing people because they drove through a puddle. Sure, she soaked a pedestrian, but she also astutely pointed out that avoiding the puddle itself could have caused an accident. So we were fully prepared to talk about that article.

And then we found one about alternative spelling, and how dangerous it can be.

For the record, we actively believe that people should be taught how to spell properly, and that they should try to keep that skill sharp as they get older. Sure, in this age of computers replete with spellchecking software, it isn't as important for people to remember the old spelling rules, but they should still make an attempt. It keeps the mind focused, and allows you to gather more information, while disseminating it in a proper fashion.

But we also don't think that alternative spelling will result in words not having any meaning whatsoever. Anyone who's ever engaged in a text message conversation knows that, by changing (or eliminating) parts of the spelling of certain words, you can still get the point across. It's none of our faults that English has so many homonyms scattered throughout our language. Oftentimes, even if misspelled, the context of the sentence around the word will help determine which definition is being used.

Besides, language needs to keep changing, at least incrementally, to remain vibrant. The English language itself has changed quite a bit since the days of William Shakespeare (truth be told, it's changed even since the turn of the 20th century). This keeps it alive, and keeps it from becoming Latin. By having phonetic spelling, it might actually lead to the creation of new ideas, new words, or, at least, new ways of putting those ideas and words together. Otherwise, we're left with a rigid structure, and, possibly in time, a dead language.

Just as long as people don't all resort to "leet speek". We just don't think we can handle that.

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