Friday, 3 November 2006

Texting As Spelling Reform

Over at Comment Is Free Simon Jenkins has decided that illiterate teenagers are leading the way to streamlining the English language, or something...
It is plain silly to regard doughnut as "better" than donut. The same goes for alternatives to night, through, colour and wholesome. When the great Noah Webster invented American spelling after independence, he left British English immured in bigotry. He chided "even well-bred people and scholars for surrendering their right of private judgment to literary governors". To Americans, spelling reform was the sovereignty of common sense. For that reason the British treated it as foreign, vulgar and, worst of all, American.

And, well, it gets sillier:
Spelling is the last fig leaf of empire, the last bastion of nanny (or Lynne Truss) knows best. It is stuck in the tramlines of the past, and nobody thinks straight on the subject.

Before going totally bonkers:
Can texting finally spur revolution? Young people have evolved both a new script and a cost-effective reason for using it. They are breaking free of spelling dogma and expanding the alphabet with emoticons.

Emoticons are curse on the internet. If you can't imply "tone of voice" with your writing adding random punctuation at the end of a sentence rarely helps. In my experience it often used some thing like this "You wanker :-)" as if smiling about being openly insulting somehow makes it OK. Far from clarifying a text they tend to obfuscate it, making the text harder to read and adding information about the authors intent that is at best weaselly.

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