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Friday, June 4, 2010

New Spelling

It turns out that at the National Spelling Bee, protesters are complaining about how we spell words. They think our words are too complicated for most people. Their slogan is "Enuf is enuf. Enough is too much." This group includes ex-principals and teachers. Now, I have my own issues with the National Spelling Bee. I think it is a waste, and I can probably correctly spell 90% of the words they are asked to spell while having none of their "rigorous training." But, the bee is still popular and is promoting the English language, particularly the lesser-known quadrants. To have people protesting against what these young kids are doing right in front of their faces is atrocious. It is even worse that they are promoting ignorance.

I wonder if any of them have read the book 1984. Respelling all the words in the English language has a far-reaching effect that people do not seem to grasp. English is not just our language, but shapes our thoughts and ideologies. It is a direct link to our past as well. Furthermore, there is a beauty in the English language that poets, playwrights, scholars and authors can tap into, creating works of true artistic beauty that go beyond the meaning of the words. No one will want to read "2 b r not 2 b? that iz thuh kwestyun."
In 1984, George Orwell uses the concept of "Newspeak." The government takes words out of the language and replaces them with simple ideas, making sure nothing inflammatory is left. This makes it very difficult for people to plot an uprising if they cannot even put such concepts into words. In fact, they wouldn't be able to think of the uprising itself because the words do not exist. There is scientific evidence which supports this theory. By dumbing down our words, we will dumb down our society and people. We will also open the door to concepts such as Newspeak to be introduced. We've already got enough of 1984 going on in real life, we don't need to add to it.

There is also evidence which supports the theory that the Japanese and Chinese, because of the complexities of their languages, think more quickly than people who speak more straight-forward languages. They have to think more carefully when they speak and write and read.

So by all means, let's rewrite history, throw out the subtle philosophies of our language (ever wonder why "awful" is a bad thing, why the plural of "radius" is "radii," where "-ology" really comes from, or what the word "philosophy" truly means?), rewrite every work of art and literature of the past 500 years or so, stagnate the thought processes of our people, and limit the potential of our children, all because some people are to uneducated, lazy, or "special" to learn how to spell correctly.
Some may say this is a class distinction. I disagree. It takes no money whatsoever to go to your library and pick up a book. There are cheap classes that can teach you how to read and write. The internet is filled with good (as well as poor) resources for someone who is truly interested in using grammar properly. And all the kids who can't write because they text all day long? I think this is a call to parents to force them to put those cell phones down. Your kids do not tell you what to do, you have to be role-models for your kids. Just stop paying the bills. Make them earn money to pay for their texting AND their phone. Soon they will see that it's not all it is cracked up to be. I do not text, and I get along just fine. So have billions of other people.

Now, this rant should end now. I'm sure people disagree with me on some of these statements. They might not see the connections I am making with spelling and newspeak. But let us all agree on one thing: The English language is not broken. It is living, breathing, working. It is the official language of 53 countries. And I love it.

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