Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Spellings of the future

[As seen in print.]

In a 2009 post about “the new literacy,” I wrote that I was beginning to see misspellings that I could never have imagined: and for an, pros for prose. As I later figured out, such misspellings are/our in fact spellings of the future, traveling backward in time to give us a foretaste of our — or are ? — language’s evolution. Our for are is one I’ve seen twice recently.

Other spellings of the future
Aww : Bard-wired fence : Now : Self-confidance : Where

comments: 6

Chris said...

I wonder to what extent multilingualism, and the presence of an increasingly number of users of English who grew up speaking something else, will be a factor (and also bearing in mind that languages that are isolated tend to be more conservative). I'm not truly multilingual, but I do read and write a great deal in Spanish, which has much more predictable orthography than English. I've become used to being able to spell words out based on their sound alone, and I've caught myself in English substituting "write" for "right," for example, not because one or the other is strictly phonetic, but possibly because my mind has gotten used to beginning with sound and retrieving the first available letter combination that fits it, rather than passing through a stage that considers the meaning of the word.

Michael Leddy said...

I think it will be an influence. The misspellings I’ve collected here are the work of writers whose first language is English. The main influence here I think is minimal reading.

Gunther said...

I have recently listened to a radio broadcast in which one lamented the decreasing development not only of the German language, especially regarding scientific terminology. Whereas in the past new terms were coined in the researchers' native language they now quickly adopt terms from a language commonly called "Broken English" which is used in multi-national conferences (and most likely in my comment). This may contribute to the mess.

Michael Leddy said...

And such words can’t be inflected, right? That must make for much awkwardness.

I’ll just mention again that all of the misspellings I’ve collected are from writers whose home language is English. So the mistakes are like the perennial there/their, only more unusual.

Andy said...

Here's one for the collection: My boss sent an email to our work group explaining that, in regard to a certain situation, the "ownness" was on us to resolve it. I guess she figured we owned the problem and this was a good chance to use that highfalutin word. The fact that it couldn't have even passed a spell-check just added to the amusement.

Michael Leddy said...

I wonder whether some writers can’t imagine onus as a genuine word, given its resemblance to another word that’s not likely to show up in most work-related writing.