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Academic Says We Should Give Up on Correct Spelling

samzenpus posted more than 5 years ago

Idle 30

Fed up with his students inabillity to spel korrectly, Ken Smith, a criminology lecturer at Bucks New University, has purposed an inovative solution, not caring. "Instead of complaining about the state of the education system as we correct the same mistakes year after year, I've got a better idea. University teachers should simply accept as variant spelling those words our students most commonly misspell.", Ken wrote in the Times Higher Education Supplement. Some of the new wurds that Ken thinks we shood axxept include: "ignor," "occured," "thier," "truely," "speach", "twelth", "misspelt", and "varient".

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30 comments

What a grate idea (3, Funny)

denis-The-menace (471988) | more than 5 years ago | (#24574155)

wit so mani homonames out thier, it mite be to hard to phollo peeples tots. I meen, one persons' tea is a leter and an other is a hot drinc.

it could get ouda hand. if U tink metrik and umperial masuments snaphus R bad, imagine gettin en castrated for pretty theff.

Re:What a grate idea (2, Funny)

Apache (14188) | more than 5 years ago | (#24575825)

To kwote the artikle:

"Rather than grammarians getting in a huff about "argument" being spelled "arguement" or "opportunity" as "opertunity," why not accept anything that's phonetically (fonetickly anyone?) correct as long as it can be understood? ...
University teachers should simply accept as variant spelling those words our students most commonly misspell.",

(emphisis added)

So, the sugestion is to only alow "comon" speling mistakes that make fonetik sence. So, a mispeling of a homonim that does not reflekt the corekt sound would not be alowed. For exampel, "tots" as used wod not be alowed as it doesnot reflekt the 'th' sound in the spokan word.

This could eventualy result in homonims being spelt the same way as nonfonetic spellings would fall into disuse. I'm not convinsed of a necesity for words with difrent meanings but the same sound to be speled difrent; This is not an ideografic [wikipedia.org] langwij after all.

Re:What a grate idea (1)

stewbacca (1033764) | more than 5 years ago | (#24603853)

Lots of grammarians go of in a huff about things that aren't really incorrect to start with. Take judgment for example. It is also acceptable to spell it judgement. The summary itself makes the same error, complaining about misspelt, when that is a correct variant of misspelled in the English language. Mispelled would have been a more appropriate example, since it is used incorrectly more frequently, and unlike misspelt, is actually misspelled.

Re:What a grate idea (1)

HTH NE1 (675604) | more than 5 years ago | (#24603941)

So, a mispeling of a homonim that does not reflekt the corekt sound would not be alowed

T'wood bae neether homonim nur homofone eff wazent eh werd.

.

Consider also: The Omega Glory [youtube.com]

Re:What a grate idea (1)

pablo.cl (539566) | more than 5 years ago | (#24603943)

This is not an ideografic langwij after all.

I thought it was. The strokes are called "letters". How else can you explain colonel or blood?

Agrument (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24605215)

Ehm, reading your post i recognised the word a-grue-ment.
It has a ring of finality to it.

Re:What a grate idea (1)

michield (71625) | more than 5 years ago | (#24610625)

strangely enough, it does seem to take a lot of effort to actually read, and I presume write, a heavily misspelled posting like that. So I guess, there's some point in spelling correctly.

However, being non-native english speaking, I tend to often correct my english speaking colleagues. Isn't that odd?

At the same time, the first response I got to the joke "does anal retentive have a hyphen" was "it's anally retentive".

Eventually really getting stuck on correct spelling is anally-retentive (with hyphen, and -ly, I looked it up and it seems they're all fine, really) while at the same time, there's some benefit, as it generally communicates better.

Me faile English... (1)

fireman sam (662213) | more than 5 years ago | (#24577249)

... Thats unposible... thanks to Bucks New University.

Bucks New University, wear wee dont giv a fuk how u spel az long az u pay us.

      enrol now.

I find it hard to believe (3, Insightful)

mattstorer (832625) | more than 5 years ago | (#24578579)

that this guy thinks this is a good idea. spelling correctly isn't particularly difficult, and anyone who misspells common words, especially the common words, IMHO, has some serious issues, and it says something uncomplimentary about the person's character.

"Use the spell-checker Luke! It's all around you!"

Spell a word wrong? Oh hey, what's that little red line underneath the word? huh, let's check it out. Oh hey! Whaddya know? "alot" isn't a word at all, is it? Huh, now I know!

And knowing is half the battle!

... or we could just give in to apathy. it's a slippery slope here people.

Oh right, one more thing: not knowing how to spell words, unless you're talking about really difficult, uncommon ones, makes you look really, really stupid. Even if you're not, otherwise.

Practical example. You apply for a job. If your resume or cover letter has even a single misspelled word, and the person reading your docs picks up on it, chances are good your resume gets tossed. If nothing else, it says you're not detail oriented and gives an impression of incompetence. Not exactly an impression anyone wants to give.

Okay, all done ranting.

Re:I find it hard to believe (2, Insightful)

danlock4 (1026420) | more than 5 years ago | (#24587831)

I agree with you.

      However, sometimes a university professor is trying to teach a different writing concept and a few misspelled words are unimportant compared to the usage guidelines being taught. Misspelled words should be identified, but only in the worst cases should they reduce the score of the paper if the intent of the assignment is something other than accurate spelling.

      A class or assignment about writing resumes and cover letters, of course, should emphasize correct spelling and appropriately deduct points for errors.

Re:I find it hard to believe (1)

WalksOnDirt (704461) | more than 5 years ago | (#24605617)

Spell a word wrong? Oh hey, what's that little red line underneath the word? huh, let's check it out. Oh hey! Whaddya know? "alot" isn't a word at all, is it? Huh, now I know!

I've seen evidence of people trying to fix that very error after Firefox started including a spell checker by default. After looking at the first few alternatives offered they apparently chose "allot"!

Re:I find it hard to believe (1)

mattstorer (832625) | more than 5 years ago | (#24605845)

I've seen evidence of people trying to fix that very error after Firefox started including a spell checker by default. After looking at the first few alternatives offered they apparently chose "allot"!

*smacks palm to forehead* Why does this not really surprise me? *sigh*

Perhaps spell-checker dictionaries should provide brief definitions of suggested words in addition to the suggested words themselves? Would probably be a fun project, and the developer could chalk it up to some kind of humanitarian cause, improving education and combating illiteracy and whatnot.

Re:I find it hard to believe (1)

Keeper Of Keys (928206) | more than 5 years ago | (#24611377)

not knowing how to spell words makes you look really, really stupid.

Agreed. I just visited the FAQ for that game Kudos [positech.co.uk] (after reading about the developer's response to pirates [positech.co.uk]) and found myself wondering if the guy was really smart enough to make a game of this complexity, even though he clearly is, and whether the game would be littered with spelling and grammar errors. And that was mainly because he wrote "... for some reason, setting a video game in slough amuses me. Almost all video game heroes start out in New York or Tokyo. Sloughs time has come" (ie two mistakes involving Slough). If there had been spelling mistakes on there too I might not even have downloaded the demo. It may be just me, but I think you will find this attitude quite prevalent in the real world.

Re:I find it hard to believe (1)

mattstorer (832625) | more than 5 years ago | (#24628255)

"...setting a video game in slough amuses me. Almost all video game heroes start out in New York or Tokyo. Sloughs time has come"

Sorry, I'm not familiar with the game in question. But I have to ask, what exactly are the grammatical errors with the word "slough?" Checking it's definitions [reference.com], this one seems to fit pretty well with what I presume him to be talking about:

1. an area of soft, muddy ground; swamp or swamplike region.

At the risk of sounding dumb, what exactly is the grammatical error? I mean, aside from not using an apostrophe in the quote "...Slough's time has come." How's it being misused?

Re:I find it hard to believe (1)

Keeper Of Keys (928206) | more than 5 years ago | (#24629379)

It is also the name of a place in England (the setting of The Office TV show, namechecked in The Jam's 'Eton Rifles', etc). Mistake one: capitalization; mistake two: missing apostrophe, as you said. They're pretty minor, I admit - my point is that even tiny errors like these tend to make me think less of the writer.

Re:I find it hard to believe (1)

mattstorer (832625) | more than 5 years ago | (#24629619)

And THIS is a perfect example of how even minor spelling and grammatical errors can not only make you look stupid, but also cause confusion and misunderstanding on the part of the reader.

Specifically in this case, if the original "slough" had been capitalized, it would have immediately presented as a proper name, causing its second use farther along ("Sloughs") to make more sense (as it was, I figured the second, capitalized "Slough" was capitalized due to it starting a sentence).

Anyway, I feel that the horse is probably dead at this point and needs no further kicking. Still, a good point all around I think.

Misspelt? (1)

stewbacca (1033764) | more than 5 years ago | (#24603725)

Misspelt is correct (British English). Then again, I'm biased, being an American having lived in the UK, I have lots of acceptable spelling variations.

Re:Misspelt? (1)

zooblethorpe (686757) | more than 4 years ago | (#24651275)

I'm glad someone else caught this. Maybe this is the underlying problem -- Kenny-boy himself doesn't have a clue what words are correctly or incorrectly spelt, and therefore can't be bothered to expose his own incompetence by "correcting" his students' spelling.

Either that, or he's just a lazy jackass. I can't tell which.

Cheers,

Really? (1)

thedistrict (1327685) | more than 5 years ago | (#24603807)

For a anyone to be saying this is crazy, let alone a teacher. Doesn't he know what a dangerous precedent this sets. I may not have perfect spelling, but now that the US is severely lacking behind other nations in the education ranks, this if how we fix it? No wai!

Re:Really? (2, Insightful)

twistedsymphony (956982) | more than 5 years ago | (#24604875)

Isn't this similar to the solutions we've used to "fix" education up to this point?

... we seem to simply lower the educational standards until the crappy education system looks good, we don't actually do anything to foster change. People don't like change, but they do like thinking they're right, this idea is perfect.

In all seriousness, proper grammar and spelling might not be important in terms of people understanding your message, but it goes a long way towards professionalism and people actually giving your message any merit.

Re:Really? (1)

isaac338 (705434) | more than 5 years ago | (#24616831)

In all seriousness, proper grammar and spelling might not be important in terms of people understanding your message

That's the thing - it IS important. Someone who forgets a word in a sentence or spells a word so badly it's illegible is going to have a hard time being understood. I've never understood that attitude towards bad spelling and grammar - it's not difficult, and if you don't do it right you run the risk of sounding like an idiot and/or being misunderstood. Simple!

Re:Really? (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 5 years ago | (#24623601)

As someone with dyslexia, I can tell you it is extremely difficult for me to get my point across using words. Usually when people talk to me live, they realize I know what I am talking about however, when it is written so many people get distracted by spelling and grammar mistakes that they don't bother trying to comprehend what I am saying. That being said where the US severally trails is in Science and Math, not so much in terms of English and Literature. Part of the problem is that many people who have dyslexia are actually good at science and math however because the schools focus so much on written language they will label them stupid grade them down even if they show a mastery of the topic taught, so they are warn away from going to college or if they are in all the grammar nazi English professors teaching the Gen-Ed classes make it so much harder for these people to succeed. While you can say people with dyslexia just need to work harder, which we do (Spending 4 hours writing a 1 page paper) however it wares you down.
Now the problem with education in math and science is not about money toward education but down to culture.
Eg. 1. My High School Graduation requirements back in the mid 90's.
Math 2 Year
Science 2 Years
English 4 Years
Social Studies 4 Years
Foreign Language 2 Years (3 years or 2 years with 5 years of music/art (4 year with one years of taking double music/art classes)
Music or Art 1
Gym 2 years (4 years half time)

Now you see a heavy push to English and Social Studies and Math and Science are treated like nice to haves.
Eg. 2 a catch 22 conversation I had with a education student.
Me: You know these requirements aren't really that fare My Graduation Requirements have me taking the same amount of literature classes as a 3 semester English major while English Majors don't even take a Math class that the Math/Physics/Computer Science Majors start out with.

Other: Well not everyone is good at math it isn't fair for them to take the hard math classes.

Me: I am not good at English so I shouldn't have to take all these english classes as they lower my GPA.

Other: Well no because English is an important skill.

Me: So is Math.

Other: But not everyone is good at Math... ....

The American culture, doesn't put value in Math and Science they see it as something relegated to the egg heads. While being able to use good grammar and spell correctly has much higher value. Once that changes we will always lag behind everyone else... English/literature are in important skill that helps focus fuzzy information and make sense of abstract concepts. While Math focuses on finding patterns and analyses of what is concrete. Two very different however equally important areas of study that can work as a core for other areas of study.

Re:Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24625283)

>For a anyone to be saying this is crazy, let alone a teacher.
>Doesn't he know what a dangerous precedent this sets.
>I may not have perfect spelling, but now that the US is severely lacking behind
>other nations in the education ranks, this if how we fix it? No wai!

If you'd have read the linked article you'd see it was British academic Ken Smith, a criminology lecturer at Bucks New University.

Remember the British? Those supercilious twats who never hesitate to haughtily inform us American plebians that we mangle the Queen's English in unimaginable ways...

Well, news flash, they can't fucking spell.

eye lick tis ider (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24608209)

these is awsum i h8 spiling an grimer an al tat stuf we shud al jused riht howe we wanna i also tink tat meths iz a big poblm to so i wish tat we culd stop beeing fashist abut meths to like my meths teajer tinks tat the multicashion tibles hav too bee exatly wot he saiz it gota be were as i tink we shud not bee so ainol but evriting n if i wana see 2 timz 2 ekualz 7 tat shud bee fin

Dumb idea (2, Insightful)

StormShaman (603879) | more than 5 years ago | (#24610031)

Dumb idea; people who speak different dialects would misspell in different ways, being opaque to speakers of other dialects. This is why Germany standardized their spelling even though it doesn't remotely reflect the pronunciation of half its dialects.

Postel's Law (2, Insightful)

gronofer (838299) | more than 5 years ago | (#24611997)

Postel's Law seems relevant here:

be conservative in what you do, be liberal in what you accept from others

In this case, spell correctly if you know how, and ignore misspellings from others.

Why hasn't anyone posted the original article? :P (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24633293)

http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/story.asp?storycode=403092 is what the Yahoo! News article was referring to. Check out the comments at the bottom as well.

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