deborahAdministrator
(Ching Shih)
08/26/04 09:56 AM
Sit for a spell: English orthography

We have a thread about "Spelling bugaboos," words we just can't seem to spell without difficulty, but I thought we could use a general thread about spelling. I kind of can't believe we don't have one...

Anyway, I got an e-mail from Amazon.co.uk about a new book called Accomodating Brocolli in the Cemetary [sic] by Vivian Cook.

 Quote:
Book Description
Weird or wierd?Minuscule or miniscule? English spelling is fiendish. Probably only one in a hundred people have truly mastered it. Yet when leading authers like Hemingway (mirricle, ungry), Erza Pound and even Dr Seuss get it wrong, how are the orthogarphically challenged to cope? Thankfully English lends itself to innovation. this book is a celebration of eccentric spelling. From hairdressers to poets, from texters to hip-hop fans, we love to play with words, as this gr8t book shows.

Synopsis
This delightful, quick-footed book celebrates the English language by exploring the rich treasure house of spelling in all its variety - setting tests and proposing rules, with illuminating quotations and tantalising lists Headrillaz and Misteeq; Naming Pop Groups; miniscule parallels; non-letters; the three-letter rule; Faeder ure pup e eart on heofunum; UK number plates; HipHop spelling; East Anglian place-names; the E-cancellation spelling test - these are just some of the intriguing subjects presented in this must-have, must-give little book.
I can't figure out if the typos in these blurbs are intentional. It's one thing to be clever in the title of the book but "authers" is pushing it, and "orthogarphically" doesn't make the point, it's just a typo. And there are other errors: lack of capitalization, spacing error, etc. Was this someone's idea of being clever? I don't think it worked.

Anyone know if this book is any good? It seems like a blatant attempt to ride on the coattails of Eats, Shoots & Leaves although that doesn't necessarily mean it's crap.


FishDreamerAdministrator
(Ching Shih)
08/30/04 10:47 PM
Re: Sit for a spell: English orthography

"mirricle, ungry"? What in the world is that supposed to mean? Given the use of "gr8t" at the end of the first paragraph, I'm guessing this is an attempt to take us back to the days before any kind of standards for spelling were set.

No, I don't think it's at all clever either, I think it's appalling. I can't understand half of the description and synopsis, which does not incline me to check out the actual book. If it's intended to celebrate the glorious creativity in spelling, punctuation, and grammar enjoyed by the semi-illiterate out there, then I want no part.

Go ahead and call me a snob for preferring clarity in writing to gratuitous incomprehensible cleverness. That would be why I'm a tech writer, after all.

Is "Faeder ure pup e eart on heofunum" supposed to mean something?


ainsley
(Ching Shih)
08/31/04 12:39 PM
Re: Sit for a spell: English orthography

 Quote:
Originally posted by FishDreamer:
Given the use of "gr8t" at the end of the first paragraph, I'm guessing this is an attempt to take us back to the days before any kind of standards for spelling were set....Go ahead and call me a snob for preferring clarity in writing to gratuitous incomprehensible cleverness.
I won't call you a snob because I agree with you completely.

What caught my attention most is that they used gr8t, and did so in a way that makes no sense. I'd be slightly less inclined to have disrespect for the book if they used gr8. That, at least, uses some form of logic.

I am a big supporter of having standard spellings, and I don't like the recent trend of tossing letters that people don't like in words. Drive-thru, I'm looking at you. I'll be driving through you, not and never thru you.


carrotbat
(Ching Shih)
08/31/04 12:52 PM
Re: Sit for a spell: English orthography

 Quote:
Given the use of "gr8t" at the end of the first paragraph, I'm guessing this is an attempt to take us back to the days before any kind of standards for spelling were set.
Either that or the writer of the blurb composed it on his/her cell phone ... phoning it in, as it were.

Okay, bad joke, I know.


MamaAlanna
(Ching Shih)
09/03/04 12:39 PM
Re: Sit for a spell: English orthography

 Quote:
Originally posted by FishDreamer:

Is "Faeder ure pup e eart on heofunum" supposed to mean something?
I think it's Old English. I suspect that 'pup' is completely wrong, that what the original reviewer saw is an obsolete letter called 'thorn', which looks like a lower-case p overlaid with a lowercase b. It's the hard 'th' sound like 'that'. The 'd'in 'Faeder' should probably be an 'edh', another obsolete letter that looks like a d with the ascender curled over and a line through the ascender. It's the soft 'th' sound that you get in 'father'. Both have sadly been replaced by 'th'. 'heofunum' is 'heaven' and 'Faeder' is 'father': I'm going to guess that it translates to " Father Our that art in heaven".

That's not orthographic change-- that's language change!


Ria
(Ching Shih)
09/16/04 06:32 PM
Re: Sit for a spell: English orthography

The Guardian has a spelling test here . I got 18/23, which they said was good, but I feel disappointed in myself.

deborahAdministrator
(Ching Shih)
09/16/04 07:20 PM
Re: Sit for a spell: English orthography

I got 23/23. Spelling is the one thing I can do.

Klowey
(Ching Shih)
09/16/04 08:30 PM
Re: Sit for a spell: English orthography

I managed a 19/23. Which I think is pretty good, for me at least. I'm not an intuitive speller, I have had to work very hard to memorize the way words are supposed to look. (Which is one of the reasons that I had so much trouble in French class. Now there was another language to memorize things in.)

The fun bit is that with when it came to university and science courses (Zoo/Chem degree), the spelling was something I was used to dealing with and the longest, most complicated words didn't give me any trouble at all.


Orlando
(Ching Shih)
09/17/04 06:35 PM
Re: Sit for a spell: English orthography

21/23 here which surprised me - I found that really hard. I am an intuitive speller so I think if it was a straight spelling test it would have been easier. Giving me all those options made me second guess myself for just about every word.

Angiv
(Ching Shih)
09/21/04 07:25 AM
Re: Sit for a spell: English orthography

Sarkycat had told me of this spelling a few years ago, but I hadn't really believed her until I spotted it for myself last week:

epitomy

Is this really an accepted spelling in the US, or did something nasty slip past every copy-editor and proof-reader?

Edited to add that I scored 19/23 too. I think I might have scored better without the multiple choice. I'm not good with decisions and I find no spelling looks right if I think about it too hard.


Ekaterina_dup1
(Ching Shih)
09/21/04 07:50 AM
Re: Sit for a spell: English orthography

Angiv, I've never seen epitomy as an accepted spelling here. Neither of the most popular (although not always the most up-to-date) online dictionaries lists it as an entry or variant.

Joss
(Ching Shih)
09/21/04 11:12 AM
Re: Sit for a spell: English orthography

That spelling is most likely a proofing error. I've never seen it as an acceptable spelling, and it's not in the Merriam-Webster's, 11th Edition, which is one of the major American dictionaries.

I used to use that spelling when I was a child because I hadn't connected that written word with its pronunciation. I thought that epitome was prounounced eh-pih-tohm, and was some sort of adjectival or adverbial form of eh-pi-toh-mee, which I was spelling epitomy. Incorrectly.

ETA: I only got 20 out of 23, which was disappointing. I actually looked up two of the three I missed because in my arrogance I thought that maybe there really was an American/UK difference in those words. I couldn't possibly be wrong -- except I was. Rats.


Lizzie
(Ching Shih)
09/21/04 11:55 AM
Re: Sit for a spell: English orthography

I only got 15 correct on the spelling test, which is about what I expected. I'm a terrible speller under the best of circumstances, and the people who created that quiz did an excellent job of including all my big spelling bugaboos.

cat
(Ching Shih)
09/21/04 12:53 PM
Re: Sit for a spell: English orthography

Angiv, epitomy is definitely not an accepted spelling for this U.S. copy editor/proofreader!

I got them all right on the quiz. I had a bad moment with "ecstasy," because I thought maybe it was spelled with a second C in British English and I would thus be marked wrong, but went with the spelling I know. Then I found that my answers are disqualified because I'm a subeditor (British for copy editor). Oh well--I am what I am.


MamaAlanna
(Ching Shih)
09/21/04 08:40 PM
Re: Sit for a spell: English orthography

 Quote:
Originally posted by Ria:
The Guardian has a spelling test here . I got 18/23, which they said was good, but I feel disappointed in myself.
??? All I get is a header and a blank page.


PrimulaMary
(Ching Shih)
09/21/04 08:56 PM
Re: Sit for a spell: English orthography

Maybe it's the settings on your computer, MamaAlanna -- I've just checked it, and the link is definitely still working for me.

Oddly, however, the quiz isn't listed on the Literary Diversions page, so perhaps they're going to either remove it or link it there later.


CaitlinM
(Ching Shih)
09/21/04 09:54 PM
Re: Sit for a spell: English orthography

I get that header and blank page, too, then it flashes to the dreaded "The page cannot be displayed" screen. Same thing with all the quiz links on the Literary Diversions archive page you linked in the other thread, PrimulaMary.

Elin
(Ching Shih)
10/28/04 03:53 AM
Re: Sit for a spell: English orthography

Hey, native English speakers, could you help me out? (I hope this is the right thread.) I've been under the impression that there are two ways only of putting the negative to can in writing: cannot and can't. But now I hear from a Canadian correspondent that can not, with a space, is also correct - indeed, more correct.
Would you agree with this?


CamillaSage
(Ching Shih)
10/28/04 04:21 AM
Re: Sit for a spell: English orthography

I looked on Google and found the following (rather amusing) explanation . According to this author, the two (cannot and can not) are interchangeable, but "cannot" is more commonly used.

Dr Grammar has something similar to say on the matter.

ps: I did the spelling test and got 21/23, much to my disgust! I did have twinges of doubt about both words that I got wrong though.


Elin
(Ching Shih)
10/28/04 04:44 AM
Re: Sit for a spell: English orthography

Thanks a lot, Camilla! Odd that I've never seemed to notice the "can not" spelling, then, because it seems to me that I should have come across it before. It's more logical, so maybe that's why I've concentrated on memorising the more illogical "cannot".

Aeduke
(Gráinne ni Mhaille)
10/31/04 06:21 AM
Re: Sit for a spell: English orthography

I tried the Guardian spelling test and got 17 right.

What I found interesting is that the test was geared for native speakers, so some questions were about mistakes a reader of English who is unable to pronounce cannot make (like the weird versus wierd thing). So, not being an English speaker made the test easier to me!


lydarose
(Ching Shih)
10/31/04 12:58 PM
Re: Sit for a spell: English orthography

I got 19/23, disappointing since I've always considered myself a good speller. Two of the mistakes were words I should have known how to spell (second-guessed myself when confronted with multiple choices), but two of them were words I had no idea I'd been misspelling all this time (cemetery and minuscule).

Bookcrosser
(Ching Shih)
11/14/04 10:47 AM
Re: Sit for a spell: English orthography

I am ashamed, but not surprised that I only scored 16/23. I haven't studied spelling in many years, although you'd think that all of the reading I do would be a help. Well, perhaps not, since I read for meaning and tend to pay little attention to spelling or grammar.

This is why I tend to be more forgiving of spelling/grammar errors.

*Edited to add that the British/American spelling threw me off as well.*


fennel
(Ching Shih)
12/19/04 03:42 PM
Re: Sit for a spell: English orthography

15/23

Which doesn't surprise me very much. Spelling just isn't something I remember easily. I'll also often find I've spelt a word wrong in three different ways on the same page. Thankfully, spellcheck is my hero.


JaneJ
(Ching Shih)
12/19/04 08:37 PM
Re: Sit for a spell: English orthography

20/23

Broccoli got me, so did harass and I screwed up on independent. Dang!


elysium
(Gráinne ni Mhaille)
03/07/05 12:52 AM
Re: Sit for a spell: English orthography

I only got 19/23, which was disappointing, as I've always considered spelling my strong point.

I'll accept "can not" right around the time I accept "alot"...


CaitlinM
(Ching Shih)
03/07/05 01:23 PM
Re: Sit for a spell: English orthography

Well, I got the quiz to come up, but the site won't give me my score. I'm fairly confident I got 23/23, though. I'm like Deborah in that spelling's the one thing I can do.

sophietje
(Ching Shih)
03/09/05 01:40 PM
Re: Sit for a spell: English orthography

I just got 16/23 which I am very happy about. Granted, this is the 2nd or 3rd time I took the test... last time I got 11/23. But it means that I am actually improving on some of the words. My biggest spelling problem is that I can't read words in their entirety; double letters become single about 90% of the time. So yay for me!

Barefoot Writer
(Gráinne ni Mhaille)
06/24/05 11:53 PM
Re: Sit for a spell: English orthography

21/23 and disappointed at that. I work as a proofreader!

However. . . (and this is a big however), miniscule is an acceptable variant, according to dictionary.com.

And my misspelling harass as harrass? Downright embarrassing. Chalk it up to Friday and tired.


clara
(Ching Shih)
06/25/05 08:25 AM
Re: Sit for a spell: English orthography

I got 20/23, which is pretty good considering I'm not a native speaker, but terrible if you consider the fact that I teach English for a living! Argh. I'll make sure to double-check if I ever need to teach those words.

naomism
(Ching Shih)
06/25/05 09:24 AM
Re: Sit for a spell: English orthography

22/23, which I can live with.

snasta
(Gráinne ni Mhaille)
02/13/06 10:20 PM
Re: Sit for a spell: English orthography

I love this demonstration of the insanity of English spelling. It's attributed to GB Shaw, I think:

He claimed one could spell "fish" as "ghoti": use the gh sound from cough (=f), the o sound from women (=i) and the ti from attention (=sh).

Pure genius.


badverb
(Ching Shih)
05/25/06 02:23 PM
Re: Sit for a spell: English orthography

... which, off-topically, clears up for me the name of '90s band Ghoti Hook. Heh.

I was happy to get 22 out of 23 on the test. As far as the book goes, calling it a "must-have, must-give" is ... trying too hard, I think.


Sarai
(Ching Shih)
05/25/06 07:25 PM
Re: Sit for a spell: English orthography

16/23 - agh! I put it down to laziness making me too reliant on the spell-checker.

"Alot"?? That's almost as bad as the one I saw somewhere - "infact".


badverb
(Ching Shih)
05/25/06 08:32 PM
Re: Sit for a spell: English orthography

Which reminds me, I saw the other day in something I was asked to give a light proofread to: "asif."

As if!


fastiller
(Ching Shih)
07/05/06 01:12 PM
Re: Sit for a spell: English orthography

From MSNBC: Time to change how we spell wurdz? , which frightens me. I hope this is the right place for this post, I did think about putting it in the "Chicklit Society for the Protection of Words" but figured that was about protecting specific words and not the English language in general.

AlchemyGirl
(Ching Shih)
07/06/06 01:05 PM
Re: Sit for a spell: English orthography

I'm frightened too, fastiller, especially by the following:

 Quote:
They even picket the national spelling bee finals, held every year in Washington, costumed as bumble bees and hoisting signs that say “Enuf is enuf but enough is too much” or “I’m thru with through.”

Thae sae th bee selebraets th ability of a fue stoodents to master a dificult sistem that stumps meny utherz hoo cuud do just as wel if speling were simpler.
So spelling bees are discriminatory? Interesting logic here. Well, I feel that sporting events celebrate the ability of a few people to master difficult tasks that I could do just as well if the game were simpler. Let's change the rules to tennis so that serving above 30 mph is illegal. Then maybe I'll win Wimbledon.


VegetarianOnHiatus
(Ching Shih)
07/06/06 01:16 PM
Re: Sit for a spell: English orthography

It's unfortunate, but we can't change the spelling of words, because people pronounce them different ways. I live in Boston; are we going to change the spelling of "car" to "cah"? If we want to change "enough" to "enuf," I'm sure there are folks who pronounce it "enof" or "enoof" or "ynoof" or... where do we draw the line? We can't just let everyone spell words the way they pronounce them; we wouldn't be able to communicate between different accents.

Ok, rant over.


fastiller
(Ching Shih)
07/06/06 02:13 PM
Re: Sit for a spell: English orthography

 Quote:
Let's change the rules to tennis so that serving above 30 mph is illegal. Then maybe I'll win Wimbledon.
~ ~AlchemyGirl
Or, let's put all the basketball nets on the floor and I'll try out for the WNBA.

 Quote:
We can't just let everyone spell words the way they pronounce them; we wouldn't be able to communicate between different accents.
~ ~VegetarianOnHiatus
Wasn't this the way that English was written before there was a bit of "standardisation"? Or was it just with names? I'm not a language historian, but I seem to recall reading somewhere once that it wasn't uncommon for there to be several spellings of the same word(s) going on at the same time. And, wasn't the point of standardisation to remove the whole "pronounce it differently = spell it differently" problem?


deborahAdministrator
(Ching Shih)
07/06/06 08:16 PM
Re: Sit for a spell: English orthography

Thoze peepull need too shutt upp.

American "Literacy" Council, my ass.


Daegaer
(Ching Shih)
07/07/06 08:02 AM
Re: Sit for a spell: English orthography

The article (and perhaps the spelling bee h8ers, as perhaps they'd like to be called) seem to ignore the fact that English is to some extent spelled phonetically.

"Speling", to my eye, is pronounced with a long vowel, as is the obvious root, "to spel". Double consonants are your short-vowelled friend! As I'm sure the student who wrote "poped off" rather than "popped off" appreciated once the mockery stopped.


VegetarianOnHiatus
(Ching Shih)
07/07/06 08:45 AM
Re: Sit for a spell: English orthography

The thing that frustrates me is, I can't read phonetically spelled words. It takes me a lot longer to read it because I haf too translat it in my hed into its sounds befor I now wat it sez. I look at "head" and I imagine a head. I look at "hed" and I have to put the sounds together in my mind and figure it out from context. It's way less efficient.

[edited because I misspelled "efficient" - misspellings in the orthography thread always seem more ironic]


Rain
(Ching Shih)
07/07/06 10:28 AM
Re: Sit for a spell: English orthography

You're right - I didn't realize why it was taking me so much longer to read the foneticly speled stuf. But that is exactly it - I have to try to "hear" it in my head before I can figure out what the word is, whereas I don't have to do that when reading normally spelled words.

ken_m
(Ching Shih)
07/07/06 12:20 PM
Re: Sit for a spell: English orthography

I think all of the "spelling simplification" arguments are about teaching students who are new to reading and writing in English. The rest of us would just have to suffer through it until we wer al ded.

fastiller
(Ching Shih)
07/07/06 03:17 PM
Re: Sit for a spell: English orthography

 Quote:
The thing that frustrates me is, I can't read phonetically spelled words. It takes me a lot longer to read it because I haf too translat it in my hed into its sounds befor I now wat it sez.
~ ~ VegetarianOnHiatus
Count me in amongst the people who have a tough time reading the "simpler" spellings.

I wonder if English is the only language to have a "Simplified Spelling Board". I'd tend to doubt that French or German or Polish or Japanese have any similar movements to simplify them.

There's a guy mentioned in the MSNBC article whose name is Alan Mole (president of the "American Literacy Council, my ass" (™ deborah)). I can't help but conjure up recollections of one of my "friends" from teen years: Adrian Mole . Okay, now I can't get Ian Dury & The Blockheads' Profoundly in Love With Pandora out of my head.


VegetarianOnHiatus
(Ching Shih)
07/07/06 03:40 PM
Re: Sit for a spell: English orthography

I think that English is probably less phonetically spelled than a lot of other languages. With most languages, words are pronounced the way they are spelled (according to that language's rules), and if people pronounce them differently it's colloquial and not really correct.

Arabic is the only language aside from English that I'm familiar with. Standard Arabic is spelled completely phonetically, but no one speaks standard Arabic; they speak various colloquial versions which aren't written down. When Arabic speakers write, they use Standard Arabic, and if they spell words the way they pronounce them, it's incorrect.


voiceofreason
(Ching Shih)
07/07/06 04:05 PM
Re: Sit for a spell: English orthography

 Quote:
I wonder if English is the only language to have a "Simplified Spelling Board"
I'm not sure about "Simplified Spelling Boards" but other languages have had their orthography simplified on purpose. Korean is one classic example -- in the 15th century a new phonetic script (Hangul) was developed as a substitute for the Chinese-based script then in use. It took a long time to catch on among the elite (although women and uneducated men used it much earlier).

I think quite recently the Académie Française either dropped or considered dropping the circumflex accent as used some specific cases as a spelling simplification. And Dutch undergoes regular official adjustments to its orthography, mostly to make it more consistent, I think -- check out the Wikipedia article , and this Language Log piece featuring a Dutch political cartoon about spelling reform ! So other languages definitely do have people keeping tabs on spelling, and they're not just independent think-tanks and hobbyists, but actual official governmental bodies.

I think that word stems/origin are a good reason to keep English orthography as it is, even though it's awfully messy. I like being able to get an idea of where words come from. And let's face it, if we're still using QWERTY keyboards and measuring ourselves in feet and inches and pounds and, heaven forfend, stone, I can't see us going through the inconvenient horror of major spelling reform any time soon. I'm sure we could get used to a simplified spelling system but I, for one, am too lazy to change.

Here's an interesting article about dyslexia and different systems of orthography: "Dyslexia Study In Science Highlights The Impact Of English, French, And Italian Writing Systems" . One of the major take-home points is that dyslexia may not manifest obviously in people who use phonetically-spelled languages; a person who would have dyslexia if they were writing in English or French has no such problem if they are writing in Italian or Spanish. Simplified spelling could make it vastly easier (or even possible, period) for people with dyslexia to read English. Though of course they still might not be able to read books published pre-spelling reform.


Daegaer
(Ching Shih)
07/07/06 04:29 PM
Re: Sit for a spell: English orthography

That phonetically spelled stuff is hard to read, VegetarianOnHiatus. It was very annoying to plough through. OTOH, I really adore Geoffrey Chaucer\'s blog which has (some) phonetic spellings, albeit in Myddle Englisshe. (If people haven't been reading Cher Geoffrey's blog, it is hilarious, and easy enough to read. I especially like his reply to the query on what he thinks about the great variety of pseudo-middle English people comment in - he likes the idea that people are starting to learn to spell properly. Currently there is a "gest-bloggeresse", his sister in law Katherine Swynford, who is more difficult to read, I find, as she* is more phonetic in her spelling and seems to have a somewhat different accent!)


*I have no idea if "Katherine" is in fact a different writer than "Geoffrey", but the whole thing is a masterpiece, whether its author is singular or plural.


ETA to say: voiceofreason - Classical Hebrew is reasonably phonetic in its spelling (though some variant spellings and oddities exist), and I've found that dyslexic students can spell well in it, and have few difficulties in writing it. One student specifically told me that he found the right-to-left direction of writing to be more natural to him than English's left-to-right.


cocojosie
(Ching Shih)
08/02/06 02:36 PM
Re: Sit for a spell: English orthography

Hee, I love the Chaucer blog! I love Middle English!

LaSalleUGirl
(Ching Shih)
08/03/06 02:28 PM
Re: Sit for a spell: English orthography

OK, I don't think I've ever laughed so hard in my life. That Chaucer blog is hilarious. Middle English and the Dread Pirate Robertson -- what more can a girl ask for.

 Quote:
For manye dayes he dide saye the same ech night, “Good nighte, Geoffrey. Thou hast done wel. Maye slepe be swete to thee. Yt most likely shal happe that yn the morninge ich shal slaye thee.”
Hee hee. Now I want to watch The Princess Bride.


Erin W
(Ching Shih)
05/14/07 10:51 AM
Re: Sit for a spell: English orthography

I couldn't find a thread for Embarrassing Spelling Errors Within One's Own Family, or Failings of the American Higher Education System, so here I am. This weekend my mom received a thank you card from my cousin, who graduated from college with a teaching degree in April. A sample offering from the card:

"Thanks so much for the gift! [It was a check] It will definately come in handy!"

Sigh.


Rain
(Ching Shih)
06/06/07 04:05 PM
Re: Sit for a spell: English orthography

I'm a pretty good natural speller, and bad spelling bugs the heck out of me, but that word gave me trouble for years. I had a huge mental block with it.

On the other hand, at least I knew I had a problem with it, so I'd look it up all the time.