Friday, April 18, 2008

Your BFF Needs to Learn Real Spelling

For a language that took over 1500 years to develop, you’d think English would finally be content with itself and would consider resting easy for a while. You’d think it would be happy staying home, tending the fire, puttering around in the garden for once. It wouldn’t have to be modest – after all, it is the primary language of the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom. It is also commonly used in countries with a colonial past, such as South Africa and India, and is taught as a primary foreign language of many other countries. It could still stay full of itself with its strange spellings of strange sounding words a body has to be “in the know” to understand. I reckon the red wren was a wretched recreant! It would be good for it to rest for a while.

But no. It has to be fluid, constantly adapting to large, (and gross!) changes in the use of English in the media, which translates nearly instantly to use of English in the under 18 set.

The fact is: English is ill, and I don’t mean “ill” in the same way my teenager does, which is the “ill” that is actually not ill, but good.

There is a contagious case of English language sickness that seems to be breaking out everywhere we look.

Things that have gone out of the grammatical window in the US:

Spelling. Forget spelling. Who needs it when we no longer use words to communicate? Don’t believe me? ^RUP^ : AAMOF, your BFF, AKA IRL as “Jenny” who is ROFL. It’s 2G2BT! *

We live in a world of texting.
And what happened to grammar? It’s largely out the window. We live in a country filled with reality shows starring people who may not be in the deepest end of the gene pool, and as such, should not be the example of intellect for our children, and our children’s teachers, to model.

My pet peeve:

Me: How are you?

Anyone under the age of 39: I’m good.

I don’t care how “good” you are, you are not good enough at grammar to keep William Malone Baskerville from rolling over in his grave every time he hears that phrase.

In fact, I may see evidence of how good you are in your daily actions – you are probably quite a good person. What I want to know when I am asking that question is how well you are.

There used to be a time where if you answered “I’m good.” Instead of “ I’m well” your mother would slam your head down in your morning bowl of Cheerios, or your teacher would smack you with a ruler and your parents would be grateful. Has proper English died?

The truth is, there are people fighting the good fight to keep English spelling and grammar consistent and correct. Your stodgy old English teacher, the one who looks like the Crypt Keeper - - she’s a soldier. Grandmas and grandpas all over the English-speaking world are disgusted with the speech of their grandchildren, but they try to model correct grammar.

Many writers and most publishers still take pride in grammatical excellence, but I’m afraid they are a dying breed.

What you can do to keep the English language fire alive:

Talk to your children in proper English. Remind them that they need it to get a good job later on in life. Point out grammatical errors in the media. Give them spelling and grammar activities.

Make them read. Make them write, then correct what they write. Keep it fun.

Lead them to the knowledge that superior spelling and grammar skills will help develop a superior intellect.

Let’s let ole’ Baskerville RIP.

* Read up, please. As a matter of fact, your best friend forever, otherwise known in real life as “Jenny,” is rolling on the floor laughing. It’s too good to be true!”


Kim's World said...

You need to come meet a man named Melvyn Ramsden. He runs workshops for langugae enthusthiasts at his home in Cluis, France, and is a proponent of Real Spelling. Check his website at
I especially recommend the videos in his gallery. Melvyn's ideas about how spelling works are being translated into classrooms through his spelling tool kit and with the help of a man named Pete Bowers through his company WordWorks. They are both, in my opinions, heroes!

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