Thursday, August 7, 2008

If it's Wensday, this must be England

Genevieve, who writes wonderfully about agrarian life, WPA architecture, and other matters at Prairie Bluestem, sent this news from the world of spelling and misspelling (or mispelling):

Dr Ken Smith is urging colleagues to turn a blind eye to the 20 most common slips — such as 'Febuary', 'ignor' and 'speach' — and view them instead as variants of standard spellings.

Writing in the Times Higher Education magazine, the senior lecturer in criminology at Buckinghamshire New University said: 'Teaching a large first-year course at a British university, I am fed up with correcting my students' atrocious spelling. Aren't we all?

'But why must we suffer? 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 spellings those words our students most commonly misspell.'
Among Smith's proposed variants: thier and there for their and Wensday for Wednesday.

Something tells me that Smith's modest proposal must be tongue-in-cheek. But in light of other recent news from England, I can't be sure.

[Post title with apologies to this movie.]

comments: 4

Eustace Bright said...

The only one of those "alternate" spellings that I can tolerate easily is "Wensday". Perhaps I just am aesthetically OK with it -- I don't know.

But I have more important reforms: I like to put punctuation outside of quotations whenever it is logical, and I would bless the soul who comes up with a great-sounding set of singular neuter pronouns for English to replace the ugly "he/she" and "(s)he", the sometimes stuffy "one" and "one's", etc!

Michael Leddy said...

Punctuation outside is logical and consistent (and British). I like single quotation marks too, but when in Rome, etc.

Your blog disappeared from my Google Reader, Joe, but I'm glad to see that you're posting.

Michael Leddy said...

Pronouns: I too dislike "s/he" and "(s)he." "One" is okay by me when used sparingly but not as a substitute for a plain old "I." There's a serious case being made for "they" and "their" as singular gender-neutral pronouns ("Everyone has their book"), but those uses still seem awful to me. Switching to plurals is often a good way to avoid "he or she" and "his or her," which can get tedious with repetition. As you might guess, I'm teaching a freshman comp course in a few weeks. (Oops — a comp course for first-year students.)

Eustace Bright said...

Thanks for the heads up about my feedburner. I think I've fixed it now...