Also on this page: Spell bites in SSS journals.

Spell Bites 1.


5 Dec 2004. BBC4. The pedant's revolt.
Britain has twice as many illiterate adults as European countries.

28 Nov 2004. Sunday Times.
English is harder than other languages.

19 Nov 2004. The Independent.
It is difficult to imagine a spelling bee in Hungary, or any other country where orthography was reformed in the 19th century and nearly all spellings are phonetically consistent.

7 Nov 2004. Sunday Express.
The sentence "he believed Caesar could see people seizing the seas" contains seven different spellings of the "ee" sound.

2 Nov 2004. From several reports.
OCR A-level examiners outraged by 'Fatal floors' in exam scripts.

26 Oct 2004. Daily Telegraph.
Christopher Howse on the QCA (Curriculum Qualifications Authority), new document, Introducing the Grammar of Talk. "Spelling remains a peculiar shibboleth of English speakers, partly because English is written with such unphonetic orthography."

20 Oct 2004. ITV. The Great British Spelling Test.
"Employees' spelling mistakes and poor grammar cost British businesses over £700,000,000 a year." "A recent survey showed that a horrifying 9 out of 10 job applications written by school and college leavers were instantly rejected because of spelling errors in their first few words." SSS members, Masha Bell, John Wells and Jack Bovill appeared in the program.

14 Oct 2004. Western Mail. First realy usefull dictionery (sic).
Bloomsbury English Dictionary. Dr Rooney said, "I think in 20 years' time our spelling may look very different".

24 Sep 2004. The Scotsman.
Poor literacy and the lack of basic skills caused by unrecognised dyslexia costs the UK economy £1 billion a year. The extra costs linked to unrecognised dyslexia include unemployment, dealing with youngsters excluded from school, and prison and probation services.

23 Sep 2004. The University Daily Kansan.
After all, couldn't English use a good scrubdown?

5 Sep 2004. Sunday Express. 'The Adventure of English', Melvin Bragg. Sceptre Paperback.
Revew: "It is a language the spelling and punctuation of which drive everybody mad, where combinations of letters which ought to sound alike, veer off in all directions."

28 Aug 2004. The Western Mail. Author, journalist and university professor John Sutherland:
"And the simple fact is that English is a tough language to spell."
"There's no other European language which has what you might call such illogical spelling."

26 Aug 2004. STRANGE BUT TRUE. issue 0334 of the Hook.
Q. "I before E except after C." There are well over 100 such exceptions, says [David] Crystal.

24 Aug 2004. Sun Herald. Purdue University English professor Samantha Blackmon.
"Who cares if a student, to save time, types 'u' for 'you?' I want to see them writing more and if that means breaking a few rules, that's OK."

30 July 2004. Tri-Valley Herald.
... you mentioned the 'i before e' rule in spelling, and said there were too many exceptions to make it a worthwhile rule of thumb.

8 July 2004. The Daily Telegraph. Comment.
Lynne Truss, author of Eats, Shoots & Leaves, published by Profile Books.
The argument goes that the spelling of English words is, by and large, "irrational". Why is there a silent "p" in "receipt" and not in "deceit"? Well, the quick answer is: life's a pain sometimes ....

2 July 2004. TES (Times Educational Supplement) 'Friday' The Issue.
How children read. Phonics: as slippery as fish?
While a phonics approach is the obvious way to tackle a "transparent" language such as Swedish or Spanish, English is a minefield of irregular sound/spelling combinations. ... "fish" could be spelled "ghoti" - that's "gh" as in "tough" "o" as in "women" and "ti" as in "nation".

20 May 2004. The Star Online, Lifestyle. The homophone virus by Ralph Berry.
Put not your trust in spellchecks. What they do is tell us if a word is misspelt. They do not tell us if the word is wrong anyway. [Examples given included: rain/reign/rein]

27 Mar 2004. Toronto Globe and Mail.
Psychologist Prof. Deborah Burke, Pomona College, Claremont, California: "I have done research in Spain and the Spanish don't even understand what spelling problems are,"

6 Mar 2004. News Today - India.
"If words are bound to be misspelt by everyone, then why not construe the wrong one as the right one."

16 Nov 2003. The Daily Telegraph. Review of Melvin Bragg book 'The Adventure of English'.
"... Why does a language become dominant, as English now is? ... But its irregularities of spelling and the absence of any consistent relation between the way a word is written and how it is pronounced render it more difficult than some rivals."

11 Nov 2003. ShortHorn Online. ESL tutor, Univ of Texas.
"There's no implication they are incapable of learning English," she said. "It's just a difficult language to learn. With every rule there are a thousand exceptions."

7 Feb 2003. Times Educational Supplement. Letter: Jean Hutchins, SSS member.
"Physically" is the most difficult word for 11 year olds to spell, (TES January 24).
Yes, indeed. Is it ph or f; i or y; s or z; i or y; c, cc, k, ck, ch or que; a, e, i, o, u; l or ll; ee or y?

24 Nov 2001. Daily Telegraph. Frank Johnson.
... why is English spelling so illogical? One example among thousands: when "skill" and "full" are put together, the word is spelt "skilful".

5 Sep 2001. Daily Telegraph. British Association.
English is such a difficult language that British children take twice as long to master basic reading skills as pupils on the Continent.

3 Sep 2001. BBC On-Line news. John Gledhill, SSS member.
... the enthusiasm for texting has made it clear that English speakers are frustrated with conventional spelling.

28 Jan 2001. BBC1 TV. Room 101.
Actor Sanjeev Bhaskar's second choice for banishment was "Silent letters in words. No one can pronounce the words, or remember how to spell them, e.g. autum(n), crum(b).

Nov 1997. A maze of murders by Roderic Jeffries p55.
'Is Señor Clough English?'
'What other nationality so delights in a language which sunders pronunciation from spelling?'

SSS journals.

J2. Francis Knowles.
Russia. ... in the orthographical reform that took place shortly after the October Revolution, .... Anna Karenina became 35 pages shorter.
the word for communist, .... In Russian it is spelt with MM. .... If one of the Ms were dropped in Russian, 2.35 tonnes of printing ink would be saved every year in the USSR.

J15. Ian Mackenzie.
It is clear that the phonemic transparency of modern Spanish orthography is the result of sustained observance of the principle that spelling should reflect pronunciation and not linguistic history.

J16. Letter to SSS.
"The Simplified Spelling Society quite correctly maintains that the English language contains many irregular spellings. They cause particular hardship to the very young." US Dept of Education.

J17 Editorial. Kenneth Ives.
Two books on "Spelling for whole language classrooms" (Gentry 1993, Wilde 1992) seem to imply that the teaching of irregular spellings may dominate the curriculum. ... This is not necessary in Italian, which is spelt phonetically, hence has no need for spelling books or spelling classes.

J18. Nur Kurtoğlu-Hooton.
Turkish. ... the orthography enables learners and users of the language to spell any Turkish word known or unknown correctly.

J18. Clinton Trowbridge, Ph.D.
I am one of those people who cannot spell and often cannot find enough of a word in the dictionary to discover how to spell it. I've improved some, but I still see words misspelled in my mind.

J19. Chris Upward.
New Scientist. The only thing that's imperfect about English is the spelling. Millions of kids every year are told that "inuf" is "enough".

J25. John J Reilly.
Richard Feynman: "If the professors of English will complain to me that the students who come to the universities, after all those years of study, still cannot spell friend, I say to them that something's the matter with the way you spell friend."

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