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  • Thank you for highlighting and reminding us of these memorable blog events in this eloquent year-end review.

    It struck me, though, as I read the last paragraphs on the subject of change, that changes in the area of the orthography of the English language were left out out of the list. It seems to me that spelling errors (if we can call them errors as they are often better phonetic representations of the “correct” spelling) continue to challenge –dare I say– confuse writers. It is true that spell checkers have helped in fixing things. Maybe, competent readers on this and other learned sites do not link the issue of spelling irregularities and rise in illiteracy rates, but the reality –in schools– is that the struggle is more violent than ever in that regard. Of course, governments and leaders can fool the public in thinking that all is under control, as they throw more taxpayers’ money and more teachers to stabilize the disabled patient and its casualties. Is the patient the spelling system or is it the kids who must conform to its rules and considerable lists of errors! Is he or she a victim?

    Is it possible to have a debate on this subject because we know how flawed the English spelling system is. Right? Everything can change in English, but its orthography? One more anomaly to contend with, I suppose!

  • Dear Pewter Mare: thanks for your comment. Our ‘Learn English’ posts occasionally touch on spelling issues, but you’re right that this isn’t a topic we have covered much in the blog. You ask: ‘Is it possible to have a debate on this subject because we know how flawed the English spelling system is?’ By all means let’s discuss this. You’ll be aware I expect that there have been numerous attempts to ‘regularize’ English spelling which – because of the language’s complex origins and influences – bears a less obvious relationship to speech sounds than you find in most other languages. There’s an interesting Wikipedia article on the history of proposed reforms…and their repeated failure. I suspect it’s too late to change the spelling of English,so the question is how to make life a little easier for people using the language (and I don’t just mean second-language learners, since most mother-tongue speakers find it difficult too). All ideas welcome!

  • This blog should be considered to be one of my favourite blgos.
    I am not much of a blogger.
    Still, I do appriciate the hard work of people doing the blog informative, funny and competative.
    I adore the professionals of Macmillan blog Dictionary.
    Happy new year and Merry christmas to you.

  • Thank you, Michael! First, I would like to correct the spelling of my name which was erroneously imputed after I explained to one of your staff members that I could not publish my comment. I am using Firefox now in the hope that I will finally be able to publish a comment, on my own, at last! 🙂

    I thank you for this interesting link, Michael. Bear in mind that I have spent the last 3 years or so in researching the matter. I am well aware of the few attempts to reform the spelling code and its difficulties in implementing them. It is my view that these proposals neglected to take into account the fundamental nature of human beings and their aversion to change that would –in effect– making their life more complicated, at least initially. Learning to spell and read in English is extremely hard. I would imagine that the mere thought of having to learn a new code would be extremely frustrating and daunting. THIS is not what I propose, however. I suggest that, instead of asking billions of people to re-learn a new code, when the old code works for them, that we phase in, in schools, over 15 years, starting starting in 2020 (as in seeing –and reading– 20 20), a program of regularizing the old code. I am confident that by 2035 most people who can read this post will no longer need to re-learn the new code to get or keep a job. Beside, it is likely that one would be able to “transcode” a text from an e-reader, with just one click, if that. My proposal would be using the existing 91 spelling rules (if need be). Hence, my proposal is to correct the existing English spelling system, something that authors on this and other websites are very keen. I would therefore expect that they would be just as eager to make the spelling code as correct as it is possible like they are so keen when speakers err and misuse words or fail to follow grammar rules. It also follows that they would realize that shaving off 2 or 3 years of rote learning list of words and their chaotic spellings and enable teachers and learners to learn more important matters would be be beneficial to their pocket book (fewer teachers = less tax = more money in their pocket) and beneficial to their country, raising its competitiveness. It demands, of course, a higher degree of intelligence, eliminating all visceral reactions that this change could engender. I am confident that people will see that this is a balanced solution to combat exorbitant and rising education budgets used to deal with the issue of illiteracy. Finally, at last, English spelling would be adhering to its inherent rules. I would like to invite the readers to read my blog on the matter. So, Michael, I am hoping that soon we will be able to have an article on the matter and bring this matter to the public. After all, there are thousands and thousands of words in the English language that are very badly misspelled ! Finally, we will be able to construe that right is wrong and wrong is right! What a concept!