Can’t Spell?

March 27th, 2007 at 12:10 pm by Mark
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     Over the past year, we’ve been inundated with media reports that our spelling and grammatical skills are becoming worse and worse here in the U.S., thanks, in no small part, to Internet E-Mail and Messaging Services.
     Just to show that we still have a long way to go before calling this a Code Red Spelling Emergency, I’d like to share this e-mail that I quite mistakenly received from someone I don’t know in New Zealand:

From: shirley coromandel
Sent: Sunday

Hei sarp steven hows things goin aye???? yeahhh long tym no ea ehehhe and dat thing b4 sori bout dat ehehhe me aint been a snobb just bus.e hows kura yeiiiiiii finished finalli but dumb exams i got one tommorow,wed and thurs and im goin to d pools today eheheh and study so wats ur cell numb??? sum dik whuk stole ma fone hes in 7th but its alguds got anufa one n better but it dont have bluetooth but it has infered….. well enough bout dat wats ur plans for d holies aye???? im off up norf and prob go karapiro wif marz i myt dunno and stay in auks hows was d ball??? well hala wen eva if u dont alguds wish d best for ur exams frum one n onli shurlee


     This just screams “Translate me!” doesn’t it?

     Americans are regularly ridiculed or criticized for using Slang and Abbreviations in every day language, most often by chiding English who like to remind us, “We invented the language!”  Unfortunately, this argument is easily shot down by anyone who’s actually been to London and heard the mish-mash of Anglo; some accents are so strong that people from borough to borough cannot understand one another.

     A few years ago, Phonics were apparently dropped from New Zealand school curriculums.  Though I am unable to find any links to substantiate the fact, I’ve spoken to many teachers from New Zealand who are happy to corroborate.  Others who were from New Zealand have spoken about a news story which aired some time between 2001 and 2003, “Are we causing our children brain-damage by teaching whole word learning?”
     Universities worldwide have published papers about Whole Word Learning, some for it, and some against.  It is a commonly held belief that those who can already read have powerful, parallel processors which, under certain conditions, can read words regardless of the order the letters are in. Beliefs like these were what fueled the following 2003 fad (quite possibly inspired by Graham Rawlinson’s 1999 letter to New Scientist):

Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at an Elingsh uinervtisy, it deosn’t mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht frist and lsat ltteer is at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae we do not raed ervey lteter by itslef but the wrod as a wlohe.

     But is this any reason at all to cave to the idea that “Spelling is too hard,” and lower our standards?

     According to some people, yes, it is!

     Founded in 1908, the U.K.-based group, The Simplified Spelling Society, believes that English spelling is far too difficult for both English and non-English speakers to learn.  Their website only tells of their more recent history (since 1992), most notably where the Society’s Constitution was bureaucracized and its Ten Axioms of English Spelling were reduced to a mere Six in Committee.  Regardless, their Spelling Reform in Context does make for some rather uninteresting reading.

     More interesting is Samuel Clemens’ (aka Mark Twain) “A Plan for the Improvement of English Spelling.”

For example, in Year 1 that useless letter ‘c’ would be dropped to be replased either by ‘k’ or ‘s’, and likewise ‘x’ would no longer be part of the alphabet. The only kase in which ‘c’ would be retained would be the ‘ch’ formation, which will be dealt with later.

Year 2 might reform ‘w’ spelling, so that ‘which’ and ‘one’ would take the same konsonant, wile Year 3 might well abolish ‘y’ replasing it with ‘i’ and Iear 4 might fiks the ‘g/j’ anomali wonse and for all.

Jenerally, then, the improvement would kontinue iear bai iear with Iear 5 doing awai with useless double konsonants, and Iears 6-12 or so modifaiing vowlz and the rimeining voist and unvoist konsonants.

Bai Iear 15 or sou, it wud fainali bi posibl tu meik ius ov thi ridandant letez ‘c’, ‘y’ and ‘x’ — bai now jast a memori in the maindz ov ould doderez — tu riplais ‘ch’, ‘sh’, and ‘th’ rispektivli.

Fainali, xen, aafte sam 20 iers ov orxogrefkl riform, wi wud hev a lojikl, kohirnt speling in ius xrewawt xe Ingliy-spiking werld.

     How can you argue with one of the greatest American authors of all time?

     On with the translation:

From: shirley coromandel
Sent: Sunday

Hello, Steven.

How are things going with you? It’s been a long time since we’ve spoken. I want to apologize for the way we left things, and let you know that I wasn’t being a snob in not contacting you. It’s just that I’ve been very busy.

Are you enjoying yourself in Kaikoura?

I’ve finished school, but still have exams tomorrow, Wednesday and Thursday. But today, I’m going to relax in the hot pools.

What’s your cell number? I’m asking because some [expletive] Senior stole my phone. I’m not so worried about it, though, as I managed to get a replacement. Unfortunately, this one only has Infrared where my other one had Bluetooth.

This weekend, I may go to Lake Karapiro with Meredith, but those plans aren’t definite. I’ll definitely go and stay in Auckland for a while.

How was your party?

Well, again, I apologize for the way we left things. I hope you write back, but I understand if you don’t.

Good luck on your exams!

Your One and Only, Shirley

     Now wasn’t that better?  Why couldn’t this girl have done that before?  Certainly, she should purchase “Morrison’s Sound-It-Out Speller: A Phonic Key to English” ASAP.


8 Responses to “Can’t Spell?”

  1. Anton Says:


  2. Monty Says:

    At-whey is-hey E-they un-fay in at-they?

    Ubispebishibalubi whuben yubu cuban spubeak ubin uba whubole nubew luguabubabguabage?

    pos gtg!

  3. Zacque Says:

    I think that more people would have commented on this if they weren’t ashamed of their own common spelling mishaps. I think it shuld be moor like Bad Spellrs of the Wurld Untie!

  4. Mark Says:

    I blame lysdexia…

  5. Jewels Says:

    I was brought up on ‘My Fair Lady,’ so I’m rolling on the floor LMAO and luxuriating in snobdome (if it wasn’t a word, it is now). I know it’s passe, but doesn’t ne1 have nething 2 say about the Hip Hop Duchess?

  6. Jewels Says:

    Oops, I need to drop the extra ‘e.’ SNOBDOM

  7. anonymous Says:

    excuse me!!
    and who said you can use this as an example!!
    i dont think the person who wrote this would appreciate it!!

  8. Mark Says:

    Well, “anonymous” — you shouldn’t’ve sent me the e-mail, should you? And you certainly shouldn’t’ve been such an incredible witch-with-a-capital-B when I replied that you had the wrong e-mail address, should you? Why should I take abuse over a mistake that you made?

    Since there is no personally identifiable information used, then the only people who know are you, me and, perhaps, Steven. However, there’s certainly not enough information given for you to go into “typical” mode and file a “Privacy Act” complaint. 😉

    At least one good thing came out of all of this — you did learn to spell! Now if only we could work on your capitalization and proper use of punctuation…