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Category Archives: language

Leave my language alone!

One of my pet hates is the lack of effort that the English make with their own language. With the advent of fora, blogs and other user created content the standard seems to have slipped far below what even the lesser educated “yob” would be happy to call acceptable.

I feel at this point I should make the distinction between lack of effort and dyslexia where spelling is concerned. Wikipedia introduces Dyslexia as

Dyslexia is most commonly characterized by difficulties with learning how to decode words, to spell, and to read accurately and fluently. Dyslexia also makes mathematics more difficult as people with dyslexia might mix numbers up. Dyslexic individuals often have difficulty “breaking the code” of sound-letter association (the alphabetic principle), and they may also reverse or transpose letters when writing or confuse letters such as b, d, p, q, especially in childhood. However, dyslexia is not a visual problem that involves reading letters or words backwards or upside down, nor are such reversals a defining characteristic of dyslexia.

I have heard many many people claim they are dyslexic. Indeed, a good friend of mine is registered dyslexic. Why, by the way is the word dyslexic so difficult to spell?

My answer has to be that 99% of those people who claim to be afflicted with the disability aren’t, in fact dyslexic, but are more likely poorly educated in basic spelling and grammar, or lazy.

I am not trying to suggest that these people are “thick”, they may well be educated to degree level. I am suggesting that their junior school (seven to eleven years old) focused more on drawing pretty pictures than learning the spelling of words or their correct usage.

For example everybody knows what they mean when they speak the words “there”, “their” or “they’re” but not many people actually get the usage right.

Let’s not forget the old adage “i before e except after c”. I was taught this in junior school and have never forgotten it. A few weeks ago BBC news publsihed a report about a University professor suggesting that Bad Spelling “Should Be Accepted”:

Ken Smith of Bucks New University says the most common mistakes should be accepted as “variant spellings”.

He lists the 10 most commonly misspelt words, which include “arguement” for “argument” and “twelth” for “twelfth”.

Well Mr Smith, I say no, no and thrice no. What they should be doing is forcing the person, student or otherwise, into remedial English classes and not allow them to pass their degree until they have successfully completed the class. Whether that’s two sessions or two years is irrelevant. The standards will generally improve very very quickly.

If the standard slips then we should employ a more personal approach. When adults get it wrong most of them will argue that there’s no point in trying “cos it aint that important”. Every crap excuse should lose them a finger. Then toes. Then major organs.

One final thought, ban text speak. There is no reason for it to be employed anywhere, not in text messages or on the internet. So called text speak first surfaced in the days of dial-up modems where every byte cost money to send. Most people have broadband and don’t pay “by-the-byte” so on the internet it’s just laziness. Text messages are no longer limited to 140 characters so there’s no need for it there either.

I have gone to the extent of telling my friends to text me in English or I will ignore the message. I had one phone call asking why I had ignored the texts. I explained why and suggested that now they were talking on the same phone they could ask me in English the question they had. They hung up. I haven’t had a txt msg from them since…