Dumb and dumberer (or is it dummerer?)

I have a sneaking suspicion that this story is some kind of PR stunt or flash mob gag. It just beggars belief. A group of yahoos protested outside the National Spelling Bee last week, demonstrating against standardized spelling. They say that we should take a clue from the kids whose misspellings litter Twitter, Facebook, YouTube comments, and text messages.

The cost of clinging to traditional spellings, they say, is millions of illiterate English speakers who struggle to read signs or get good jobs, and billions of dollars in lost productivity.

Let me get this straight: The solution to illiteracy is making signs harder to read by giving a greenlight to a free-for-all in acceptable spelling. I guess it would level the playing field so that the literate and illiterate alike won’t be able to read anything.

One of the anti-spelling arguments is that standardized spelling is a modern invention imposed by the requirements of the printing press, and that even William Shakespeare spelt wurds n-e witch whey he wuntid. Yes, well, indoor plumbing is a modern invention too, and we’re not giving that up either.

In the end, who are they asking to change all this? There’s no government standards body enforcing correct spelling. How about these people show the courage of their convictions and start evangelizing the movement themselves? They cold start by misspelling all the words in their resumés, contracts, and other work-related documents. Hope it works out for you.

Meanwhile, if you want to find out why Johnny can’t spell, it’s not the fault of technology. Let’s start with the fact that most kids don’t read and then add the reality that American public school education does pretty poor job of teaching literacy and spelling.

 

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