Posts Tagged ‘spelling’

The new norm: Bad spelling, wrong words and a declining language

September 26, 2010

An amusing column on the death of the English language.

The English language, which arose from humble Anglo-Saxon roots to become the lingua franca of 600 million people worldwide and the dominant lexicon of international discourse, is dead. It succumbed last month at the age of 1,617 after a long illness. It is survived by an ignominiously diminished form of itself.

And why did it succumb?

The end came quietly on Aug. 21 on the letters page of The Washington Post. A reader castigated the newspaper for having written that Sasha Obama was the “youngest” daughter of the president and first lady, rather than their “younger” daughter. In so doing, however, the letter writer called the first couple the “Obama’s.” This, too, was published, constituting an illiterate proofreading of an illiterate criticism of an illiteracy. Moments later, already severely weakened, English died of shame.

The author, Gene Weingarten, gives some other examples found in the print media.

The Lewiston (Maine) Sun-Journal has written of “spading and neutering.” The Miami Herald reported on someone who “eeks out a living” — alas, not by running an amusement-park haunted house. The Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star described professional football as a “doggy dog world.” The Vallejo (Calif.) Times-Herald and the South Bend (Ind.) Tribune were the two most recent papers, out of dozens, to report on the treatment of “prostrate cancer.”

The examples given by Weingarten were written by (I presume) professionals who are being paid for their copy, but he would be even further convinced of the demise of the English language if he were to read the comments posted on internet sites by members of the typing public.

Along with the fact that too much of the unsolicited commentary on these sites is rude, intemperate and sometimes downright vicious, much of it borders on being illiterate.

Some examples taken at random from various sites:

“what a joke cant she be concidered a habitial and put away before she ends up dead trying to fly off of a balcony.”

“Yeah cause are system is a daggon joke!”

“Who the f…. is that heffer??”

Some of the mess that you see posted is certainly due to bad typing and obviously a refusal to spell check. But after a while you get to believe that a lot of it is simply a complete inability to spell and worse yet, no awareness that the spelling might be wrong.

The idea seems to be that it you can sound it out phonetically, you can spell it the same way. Although that doesn’t really excuse having your dog “spaded” (which probably is an example of animal cruelty) or going to your doctor for a “prostrate” exam.