Story in our local paper about spelling...

...Professor says it just isn't important anymore...

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Story in our local paper about spelling...

#1  Postby johnbrandt » Jun 18, 2012 12:45 pm

Little news item in our local paper today...
http://www.themorningbulletin.com.au/story/2012/06/18/txt-generation-is-killing-off-spelling/
IF U can understand dis sentence, u mite just b contributing 2 da downfall of da English language as we no it.
That's the verdict of CQUniversity researcher Dr Michael Cowling, who believes the rise of the "txt" generation is making spelling a dying art.
Dr Cowling said the meaning of words, rather than the spelling of words, is far more important to today's digital natives.
He added that the digital dinosaurs and academics needed to accept that.
"In the world of texting and instant messaging, connectedness and a speedy reply mean far more than perfect spelling," he said.
"Spelling is overrated. As long as the meaning of something is clear, why does it matter how we spell the words?"


This is a professor...someone who is supposed to have a good grasp of the subject.
These kids can tell themselves...presumably with this idiots blessing...that spelling doesn't matter anymore, but wait until they get out into the workforce...

Why is English the only language we are told is "fluid" and "ever changing" and "we can't be hidebound by old-fashioned rules", and so-on? What's wrong with having rules and requiring correct spelling?

Some of the readers comments are odd as well...there seem to be a lot of people who think it all doesn't matter, there should be no rules for the language, and, as the esteemed professor says, people who aren't "digital natives" are dinosaurs...

Or, in the professors words:
"Spelling is an art form that the digital native just doesn't need anymore and as academics we need to start accepting this."

There was a very good cartoon in the paper as well, which I haven't been able to find online (and don't have the paper with me to scan it in), which showed a kid at school with the teacher holding up a "spelling test" paper with all red crosses on it and a fail mark. She asks "What's all this about then?", and the kid holds up a newspaper and says smugly "Perhaps you're not familiar with the work of Professor Cowling?"
Of course the sad part is, in a lot of places they've done away with pass and fail marks in case some numptie at school feels bad about failing, and if this professor had his way, there would be no spelling tests anyway... :nono:
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Re: Story in our local paper about spelling...

#2  Postby CookieJon » Jun 18, 2012 12:50 pm

johnbrandt wrote: These kids can tell themselves...presumably with this idiots blessing...

Or, in the professors words:

...and so-on


B+

Must do better.
Last edited by CookieJon on Jun 18, 2012 12:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Story in our local paper about spelling...

#3  Postby Hermit » Jun 18, 2012 12:52 pm

ur old b4 ur time, JB.

I no 4 a fact that German is a fluid lingo 2. Far reaching spelling and grammer changes whot have bin happenin' were made official in curricula, werdbooks and so on a few years ago.
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Re: Story in our local paper about spelling...

#4  Postby kiore » Jun 18, 2012 12:53 pm

IF U can understand dis sentence, u mite just b contributing 2 da downfall of da English language as we no it.


I can read it.
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Re: Story in our local paper about spelling...

#5  Postby chairman bill » Jun 18, 2012 12:54 pm

The deer proffesor is taking bollox (escuse the speeling)

FFS, I'm dyslexic. I've learned thousands of words. I still have difficulty spelling a few of them, but I've learned them. If someone rites rong, I have great difficulty working out what the fuck they're on about, 'cos I've learned words, I don't spell them out phonetically. A misspelled word is for me, a new word, one I haven't learned yet. It might be OK for some others to work out what the word is supposed to be, but it's a pain in the arse for me.

The professor is a cnut.
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Re: Story in our local paper about spelling...

#6  Postby Ironclad » Jun 18, 2012 12:54 pm

We used to have to be selective with text typing because of the cost and the piss poor limits set by the providers. Nowadays though we all get thousands of texts allowance. Breathe the clean air, professor, we can use the full wordage once more.

PS the prof needs to get up to date, he's around four years behind the times.
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Re: Story in our local paper about spelling...

#7  Postby katja z » Jun 18, 2012 1:11 pm

johnbrandt wrote:
This is a professor...someone who is supposed to have a good grasp of the subject.


And it seems he does. :grin:

IF he didn't, he should have added that using standard forms does matter in other, more formal contexts of language use. But he's perfectly spot on as far as the practices of texting and instant messaging are concerned.


Why is English the only language we are told is "fluid" and "ever changing" and "we can't be hidebound by old-fashioned rules", and so-on?


Because you only read about English? All languages are fluid and ever changing, that's a fact of language history and no linguist worth their salt will tell you otherwise.

What's wrong with having rules and requiring correct spelling?


Nothing, in fact standardisation is important to the extent that it facilitates communication accross large numbers of language users and different language communities, especially formal communication. In other words, there's a time and place for standard language forms, but it's naive and silly to wax all metaphysical and essentialist about them.
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Re: Story in our local paper about spelling...

#8  Postby Crocodile Gandhi » Jun 18, 2012 1:17 pm

I sincerely doubt that there are a significant number of "youths" who think that 'you' is actually spelt 'u'. Text talk is usually done for convenience, not born of stupidity. You can usually tell the difference between someone who is writing in order to use as few letters as possible and someone who simply can't spell.
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Re: Story in our local paper about spelling...

#9  Postby Regina » Jun 18, 2012 1:18 pm

Hermit wrote:ur old b4 ur time, JB.

I no 4 a fact that German is a fluid lingo 2. Far reaching spelling and grammer changes whot have bin happenin' were made official in curricula, werdbooks and so on a few years ago.

Nope, not nearly as far-reaching as necessary. A half-hearted, partly downright stupid tinkering with bits and pieces that led to confusion and didn't make things easier.
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Re: Story in our local paper about spelling...

#10  Postby Bribase » Jun 18, 2012 1:30 pm

Bukmarking 4 l8er :popcorn:
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Re: Story in our local paper about spelling...

#11  Postby Scot Dutchy » Jun 18, 2012 2:09 pm

Hermit wrote:ur old b4 ur time, JB.

I no 4 a fact that German is a fluid lingo 2. Far reaching spelling and grammer changes whot have bin happenin' were made official in curricula, werdbooks and so on a few years ago.


Ask any German about the outrage those changes caused.

Dutch is always being "modernised" which means we use 'c' and then it is a 'k' then back to a 'c'. (cadeau (present) to kado to cadeau) Kontrakt to contract and many other examples. Bloody madness.
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Re: Story in our local paper about spelling...

#12  Postby Wiðercora » Jun 18, 2012 2:51 pm

Ugh, text speak. It takes me ages to understand anything written in them. I have to sound them out in my head, like when I was first learning to read.
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Re: Story in our local paper about spelling...

#13  Postby Hermit » Jun 18, 2012 4:13 pm

Regina wrote:
Hermit wrote:ur old b4 ur time, JB.

I no 4 a fact that German is a fluid lingo 2. Far reaching spelling and grammer changes whot have bin happenin' were made official in curricula, werdbooks and so on a few years ago.

Nope, not nearly as far-reaching as necessary. A half-hearted, partly downright stupid tinkering with bits and pieces that led to confusion and didn't make things easier.

Uhm, do you mean to say that the German language is not fluid? Even if you are fluent in German you are unlikely to make heads or tails of, say, the Hildebrandslied. Here's a sample from it:

    Ik gihorta ðat seggen
    ðat sih urhettun ænon muotin
    Hiltibrant enti Haðubrant untar heriun tuem
    sunufatarungo iro saro rihtun
    garutun se iro guðhamun gurtun sih iro suert ana
    helidos ubar hringa do sie to dero hiltiu ritun
German is my first language, but I have no idea whatsoever what is being said there. The German language is about as fluid as any other.
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Re: Story in our local paper about spelling...

#14  Postby Wiðercora » Jun 18, 2012 5:14 pm

Well Ik is I, innit?
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Re: Story in our local paper about spelling...

#15  Postby Regina » Jun 18, 2012 5:24 pm

Hermit wrote:
Regina wrote:
Hermit wrote:ur old b4 ur time, JB.

I no 4 a fact that German is a fluid lingo 2. Far reaching spelling and grammer changes whot have bin happenin' were made official in curricula, werdbooks and so on a few years ago.

Nope, not nearly as far-reaching as necessary. A half-hearted, partly downright stupid tinkering with bits and pieces that led to confusion and didn't make things easier.

Uhm, do you mean to say that the German language is not fluid? Even if you are fluent in German you are unlikely to make heads or tails of, say, the Hildebrandslied. Here's a sample from it:

    Ik gihorta ðat seggen
    ðat sih urhettun ænon muotin
    Hiltibrant enti Haðubrant untar heriun tuem
    sunufatarungo iro saro rihtun
    garutun se iro guðhamun gurtun sih iro suert ana
    helidos ubar hringa do sie to dero hiltiu ritun
German is my first language, but I have no idea whatsoever what is being said there. The German language is about as fluid as any other.

I was only commenting on the spelling reform. Of course languages are fluid, no amount of regulation can stop that. Even though the French try it now and then.
As for the Hildebrandslied, and I don't speak Althochdeutsch, either, I would say the first line means:
Ich hörte es sagen...
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Re: Story in our local paper about spelling...

#16  Postby johnbrandt » Jun 18, 2012 10:53 pm

If you have a look at some of the "readers comments" in that link, you will see they are written by an obvious devotee of this sort of thinking who kept dropping off letters ("rite", "ritten", "therefor", etc...), and it really jars to read the sentence they have written. You read past the word, then your eyes flick back as you realise something wasn't quite right there.
The trick with dropping letters is that you have to first know what the word was supposed to be spelled like to understand what the fuck they are on about half the time. "rite"...do they mean "write"? Do they mean "right"? It isn't as simple, especially in a language like English where many words sound the same, to just drop letters and expect everyone to understand. "Read the context" will be the cry...well if you have to read the whole sentence, then re-read the words that they have written to make doubly sure you understand what they meant, what is the point?
The readers comment I do like was a reply to the one making the deliberate spelling errors:
Without correct spelling, it isn't literacy, it really is that simple. With how you've written your last few posts phonetically, it shows that you actually do know the correct spellings, and you are choosing not to use them. If you understood the thread context here, you would also have noticed that what I wrote, was not a reply to you, rather a comment on the original story. I'm also a bit baffled at your view that literacy is more important that correct spelling, to remove spelling you would, in effect, be lowering the standards to literacy to suit those who do not meet the criteria, rather than making a positive improvement on the teaching standards.

The reply to this jars again...words like "decifering", and so on...you have to go back and read it again to make sure you got the message they are trying to put across correctly and the word you read is the one you think it is.

I expect it will change for the sake of laziness...Hell, they don't even teach kids times tables at school any more here...this started some time ago...I remember our when our youngest boy (now 21) received his school book purchase list one year, we were surprised to see it included a calculator...for grade 2... :nono:
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Re: Story in our local paper about spelling...

#17  Postby orpheus » Jun 18, 2012 11:07 pm

It's as if people want Riddley Walker to be true.

*shudder*
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Re: Story in our local paper about spelling...

#18  Postby orpheus » Jun 18, 2012 11:18 pm

Crocodile Gandhi wrote:I sincerely doubt that there are a significant number of "youths" who think that 'you' is actually spelt 'u'. Text talk is usually done for convenience, not born of stupidity. You can usually tell the difference between someone who is writing in order to use as few letters as possible and someone who simply can't spell.


'u' for 'you' is an extreme. But I've seen many student papers containing many other misspellings that would be perfectly fine in texting. More than once I've told students that I will not grade their paper until they rewrite it - unless they wanted me to put the same amount of effort into reading it as they did into writing it. They got the point.

And if literal meaning is all that matters? Then I assume the dear Prof would see no problem with updated E-Z editions of Shakespeare.

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Re: Story in our local paper about spelling...

#19  Postby orpheus » Jun 18, 2012 11:25 pm

Did I miss it? It doesn't seem to say what Cowling's area of expertise is.
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Re: Story in our local paper about spelling...

#20  Postby Beatsong » Jun 18, 2012 11:43 pm

Well I basically agree with John, but from a Devil's advocate POV one could point out that English spelling was highly unstandardised until a few hundred years ago, and people seemed to get on OK and read each other nonetheless.

johnbrandt wrote:I expect it will change for the sake of laziness...


Actually that's an interesting point. I've just been reading The Language Instinct by Stephen Pinker and he makes the interesting observation that laziness has a way of balancing itself out in language. The fact is that every act of laziness on the part of a speaker or writer, requires a corresponding act of effort on the part of the listener or reader (to decode the irregularity). Language won't descend into a free for all because it would lose its function if it did. Those kids with their phones do still want to communicate to each other, after all.
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