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This 100-year-old poem tells you everything you need to know about why so many people struggle to learn English

There's a reason English is one of the hardest languages to learn

No poem illustrates the counterintuitive nature of the English language better than "The Chaos." Written by Dutch traveler Gerard Nolst Trenité in 1920, the poem is packed with hundreds of examples of irregular English spellings and pronunciations.

[Business_Insider_(US); New_York,_NY,_US; 2017-12-20]

The battle to make French a “gender-neutral language” is emphasizing the country’s inherent sexism

Given the profound role gender plays in the language, untangling that knot is tough

A movement known as “Écriture Inclusive,” what English speakers would call “gender-neutral language,” is calling out the French language for being inherently sexist because it favors the masculine usage. Proponents have outlined a complex, if awkward, remedy that its adherents argue is essential for correcting the subtle ways the French language creates stereotypes that are biased toward men over women.

[Quartz; New_York,_NY,_US; 2017-12-19]

Can You Solve This Spelling Test Designed For High School Students?

A spelling test designed for high school students has been designed by using the most commonly misspelled words in the English language. The test puts your basic spelling skills to the test and presents you with 19 sentences. Each sentence has a missing word which you are required to choose from two options. The test looks simple enough but Terry Stein, the creator of the test claims that of 40 high school students, nobody scored higher than nine. You can take the spelling test for yourself.

[Wonderful_Engineering; Glasgow,_UK; 2017-12-12]

The Oppressor’s Bookshelf

As formerly enslaved Americans battled to become literate, the only books available to them were written by white supremacists and condescending abolitionists.

Some teachers were fortunate enough to receive donations of one or two types of books from northern organizations, but the tool that African Americans used most frequently to decode written English was Noah Webster’s Elementary Spelling Book, popularly called “the blue-back speller.” This book, which insisted on an American pronunciation distinct from the English, was Webster’s contribution to the American Revolution.

[Slate; New_York,_NY,_US; 2017-12-08]

Language Rules for the Digital Age

[review] A WORLD WITHOUT ‘WHOM’ The Essential Guide to Language in the BuzzFeed Age By Emmy J. Favilla. As chief copy editor for BuzzFeed, Favilla’s at the sharp edge of online editing. There she was tasked with creating and maintaining a style guide that had a logical integrity (but also room for considered variation); addressed those language issues that demanded a rethink; was attractive to readers; and, of course, encouraged them to click through to the all-important articles.

[The_New_York_Times; New_York,_NY,_US; 2017-12-07]


I love it when the comments to these blog posts prompt another discussion. That’s the case this week, when I’ve been thinking about one commenter’s response to the list I compiled from Work + Money’s “impeccable speech” recommendations. The original list included advice to say nerve-wracking and not nerve-wrecking.

[The_Chronicle_of_Higher_Education; Washington,_DC,_US; 2017-12-05]

Emmanuel Macron vows to make French the world's first language

The radiance, the attractiveness of French does not just belong to France'

[+ video] Emmanuel Macron has pledged to make French the most spoken language in the world. Speaking to students in Burkina Faso’s capital Ouagadougou, the French president said his native tongue would "be the first language of Africa" and "perhaps of the world."

[Independent; London,_UK; 2017-12-01]

Character Assassination: Successes and Failures of Kanji Reform

In 1866, as the Edo period drew to a close, the statesman Maejima Hisoka submitted a proposal suggesting that Japan abolish kanji to the last shōgun, Tokugawa Yoshinobu. Maejima, who had both learned and taught English, bemoaned the amount of time students spent memorizing Chinese characters, which could have been used for other study. He was just one of many would-be reformers and abolitionists of the kanji system in the modern era.

[Nippon,com; Tokyo,_JP; 2017-12-01]

How Long to Learn That Language? Here’s a Map for That

Located in Arlington, Virginia, the FSI is the U.S. government’s main provider of foreign affairs training, including language courses. As the chief learning organisation for the State Department, the FSI is where diplomats go to study the languages they will need on foreign postings. The Institute has a very practical approach to languages, dividing them into five categories, depending solely on how long it takes to learn them.

[Big_Think; New_York,_NY,_US; 2017-11-27]

An Orgy in Iceland

At least there was no orgy on board the plane. I say this with some relief, and also embarrassment, since I should have known better, language-wise.

[The_Chronicle_of_Higher_Education; Washington,_DC,_US; 2017-11-26]

Everyone is blasting Trump for writing 'mike' instead of 'mic' -- but here's why Trump is right

Twitter users mocked Trump for shortening the word microphone to “mike” in a Sunday-night tweet.

As it turns out, “mike” predates “mic” by several decades: the first known use of “mike” to refer to a microphone was in 1924, according to Merriam-Webster, while it wasn’t until 1961 that “mic” first appeared.

[Business_Insider_(AU); Sydney,_NSW,_AU; 2017-11-21]

Words, words: North and South Korea’s differing romanization

From diacritics to dodgy vowels, it's best for scholars to simply learn the alphabet

[subscription] Many people who came into contact with the Korean language soon notice that there are very many ways to relay the same Korean word in English.

[NK_News; Seoul,_KR; 2017-11-21]

From the clay tablet to predictive text: how tech shapes literature

An age of innovation is focusing minds on past media revolutions. Could ours be the most far-reaching yet?

[subscription] You could read it as an invitation to reflect on both the limits and the possibilities of technology. “Type ‘I was born’”, suggested the Twitter account @therealbradg this month, “and then let your predictive write your autobiography”. The idea was to take a process built into the modern mobile phone, which anticipates the next word we are likely to choose on the basis of our past behaviour, and use it to create a new kind of literature.

[Financial_Times; London,_UK; 2017-11-17]

‘OK’ Is a 4-Letter Word

America’s greatest word, OK, is its most powerful word too, and in many ways it’s the most peculiar.

[The_Chronicle_of_Higher_Education; Washington,_DC,_US; 2017-11-16]

Inclusivity putting French language in ‘mortal danger’, claims l'Académie française

Unsurprisingly, however, the Académie française, commonly recognised as the “gatekeeper” of the French language, vehemently opposes inclusive writing. The Académie does not have the most sparkling record when it comes to gender equality: since its creation in 1635, it has had 729 members – of these, eight have been women (the first of whom was elected only in 1980).

[The_Conversation; London,_UK; 2017-11-15]

Why the Danish Town of Aabenraa Refuses to Change Its Name

In this week's Maphead, Ken Jennings explores the first town listed in the dictionary

As I've explained before, there are a few times in history when places decided to keep their name the same on the map, but start pronouncing them differently. But sometimes the opposite happens: places keep their names the same but start spelling them differently. Usually there's a good cultural explanation for this, but in 1948, one Danish town resisted spelling reform for purely selfish reasons.

[Condé_Nast_Traveller; London,_UK; 2017-11-13]

Purity vs. Diversity

So which is better for a language — purity or diversity? You could make a good argument for either. Wouldn’t it be nice, for example, if a language could be captured at the peak of its perfection (achieved by its greatest authors), then polished to remove all blemishes?

[The_Chronicle_of_Higher_Education; Washington,_DC,_US; 2017-11-09]

Queen's English

Why are some English names pronounced so differently than they're spelled?

Why are some English names pronounced so differently than they're spelled? I'm thinking of Churmondley (pronounced "Chumley") and Featheringstonehaugh (pronounced "Fanshaw").

[Salt_Lake_City_Weekly; Salt_Lake_City,_UT,_US; 2017-11-08]

The Americanisation of the English language: a frightfully subtle affair

Brits can get rather sniffy about the English language – after all, they originated it. But a Google search of the word “Americanisms” turns up claims that they are swamping, killing and absorbing British English. If the British are not careful, so the argument goes, the homeland will soon be the 51st State as workers tell customers to “have a nice day” while “colour” will be spelt without a “u” and “pavements” will become “sidewalks”.

[The_Conversation; London,_UK; 2017-11-08]

Resistance to changes in grammar is futile, say researchers

Linguists say that random chance plays a bigger role than previously thought in the evolution of language – but also that ‘English is weird’

When it comes to changes in language, there’s no point crying over spilt milk: researchers charting fluctuations in English grammar say the rise of certain words, such as spilled, is probably down to chance, and that resistance is futile. Comparisons have long been drawn between evolution and changes in language, with experts noting that preferences such as a desire for emphasis can act as a type of “natural selection”, affecting which words or forms of grammar are passed on between generations. But a new study shows that another evolutionary mechanism might play a key role : random chance.

[The_Guardian; London,_UK; 2017-11-01]

Kazakhstan to Qazaqstan: Why would a country switch its alphabet?

The Kazakh language has long been unsure which alphabet to find a comfortable home in and it's now in for another transition - but this is not without controversy

By the end of the year there will a finalised official Latin spelling. By next year teacher training is to begin and new textbooks will be developed. Come 2025, all official paperwork and publications in the Kazakh language will be in the new Latin script. President Nazarbayev indicated though there would be a transition period where Cyrillic might still be used as well. Given that Russian is the country's second official language, signs and official documents will though remain bilingual: in the Kazakh with Latin letters and in Russian with the Cyrillic alphabet.

[BBC; London,_UK; 2017-10-31]

Straight Scoop on ‘Strait’

I can’t remember how, on a recent drive to New York, my husband and I got started on a discussion of the phrase strait and narrow. But I do know that, absent a dictionary to straighten things out for us (neither of us being fond of checking Google while roaming), we determined that both the traditional spelling and the more common contemporary phrase, straight and narrow, made no sense.

[The_Chronicle_of_Higher_Education; Washington,_DC,_US; 2017-10-31]

Every Word Nerd Is Looking Up ‘Indictment’ — But Why Is It Spelled That Way?

Indictment, according to the Cambridge Dictionary, means “a formal statement of accusation” in American English. But it turns out that indictment’s linguistic roots tell the story of the conquest of Europe, which to summarize, happened many times.

[The_Forward; New_York,_NY,_US; 2017-10-30]

The Survival of British English

A new academic study that crunched 30 million tweets and 15 million digitized books published between 1800 and 2010 found that, in the worldwide use of English, spelling and vocabulary are indeed trending toward American versions. However, the trend is most pronounced in countries where English isn’t the primary language, and, in all the world, is seen least in Britain.

[The_Chronicle_of_Higher_Education; Washington,_DC,_US; 2017-10-29]

Weird English spelling of Koreans' names

Celebrities still use eccentric names

A number of Korean celebrities, from business circles to politics, use eccentric English spelling of their names. They include Korea Development Bank Chairman Lee Dong-gull, a powerful financial expert who is in charge of many corporate restructuring programs, former presidential secretary Woo Byung-woo, and former Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon.

[The_Korea_Times; Seoul,_KR; 2017-10-29]

Is Kazakhstan Now Qazaqstan?

Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev has ordered that his country’s official alphabet be changed from Cyrillic to Latin. For Kazakhstan, this is symbolic distancing of the former Soviet state from its neighbor, Russia. For the rest of us, it raises a question of how we’re now supposed to spell the country’s name.

[Slate; New_York,_NY,_US; 2017-10-27]

Greetings from Saufend-on-Sji, in Polish-occupied England

This is England. But not as we know it. Imagine an alternative past, in which the Warsaw Pact successfully invaded Great Britain. Imagine a Polish occupying force, trying to make sense of this strange land, and the strange names of its cities and towns. How would a Polish soldier have asked a local for directions? Not by trying to read Southend-on-Sea off a map. That name trips off a Warsaw tongue much easier in Polish phonetic spelling: Saufend-on-Sji. This map was produced by and for the army of communist Poland, in our past – the real one – for the aftermath of a military victory that never materialised.

[Big_Think; New_York,_NY,_US; 2017-10-26]

Chinese Kids Swarm to English Spelling Bees

Contests spell profit for education companies capitalizing on rising demand for English fluency.

The young spellers onstage that day were competing in the China Spelling Cup 2017, a contest organized by private English language learning company Qooco and modeled after the Scripps National Spelling Bee, which has been held in the U.S. since 1925. Out of more than 100,000 students who participated in the China Spelling Cup’s online preliminary rounds, Zhinan was one of 90 contestants who made it to the national final. Only 18 will fly to Kuala Lumpur for the Asia Spelling Cup in November, where they will compete with finalists from Malaysia, Indonesia, and Thailand.

[Sixth_Tone; Shanghai,_CN; 2017-10-25]

We need to prioritise pupils struggling to read – it will help to cut classroom disruption'

Not enough is being done to tackle poor levels of literacy early on, and students are suffering because of this failure, says one former Sendco.

Like many other teachers, I am aware that there are a number of students in secondary schools who simply cannot read. Figures from the Reading Agency show that in 2014 alone one in five 11-year-olds struggled with reading. Many, but certainly not all of them, may also face other challenges like deprivation, attachment problems, trauma issues and a raft of other special educational needs. I cannot imagine the stress they must face every day being presented with numerous texts they simply can’t decode.

[TES; London,_UK; 2017-10-22]

Why American English is more traditional than British English in many ways

[video] Business Insider spoke to Philip Gooden, author and expert on the origins of the English language, about why the variety of English used in the US is different – and more traditional – to the variety of English used in Britain.

[Business_Insider; New_York,_NY,_US; 2017-10-19]

10 Facts About Samuel Johnson’s Dictionary

October 16 is World Dictionary Day, which each year celebrates the birthday of the American lexicographer Noah Webster, who was born in Connecticut in 1758. Johnson—whose 308th birthday was marked with a Google Doodle in September—published the equally groundbreaking Dictionary of the English Language in 1755, three years before Webster was even born. With more than 40,000 entries, Johnson’s Dictionary of the English Language was certainly the largest dictionary in the history of the English language at the time but, despite popular opinion, it wasn’t the first. Early vocabularies and glossaries were being compiled as far back as the Old English period, when lists of words and their equivalents in languages like Latin and French first began to be used by scribes and translators. These were followed by educational word lists and then early bilingual dictionaries that began to emerge in the 16th century, which all paved the way for what is now considered the very first English dictionary: Robert Cawdrey’s Table Alphabeticall—in 1604.

[Mental_Floss; New_York,_NY,_US; 2017-10-16]

National Dictionary Day

Learn a new word or two on #NationalDictionaryDay

16 October is National Dictionary Day, and you are encouraged to celebrate this day by learning a little more about the history of Noah Webster’s dictionary. Webster, an American citizen, published his first dictionary – A Compendious Dictionary of the English Language – in 1806. A year later – 1807 – he began compiling an expanded and fully comprehensive dictionary entitled An American Dictionary of the English Language. This dictionary took 27 years to complete.

[Roodepoort_Record; Roodepoort,_ZA; 2017-10-16]

Deviation from the dictionary is not a sign of decline

[subscription] Broccoli, embarrassment, harassment and idiosyncrasy. Manoeuvre, supersede, liaison and millennium. Disappointment, augur, accommodation and chauffeur. These are all words I know how to spell. In the era before spellcheckers, I was unreasonably smug about this. Even in the digital age, I remain faintly superior at knowing the distinction, which spellcheckers can’t help you with, between forebear and forbear.

[The_Times; London,_UK; 2017-10-14]

Tajikistan Demands Wikipedia 'Correct Spelling Mistakes'

Wikipedia editor Ibrohimjon Rustamov says Dushanbe's demand suggests that Tajik officials have little idea of how the encyclopedia website actually works

Tajikistan's state language committee is demanding that Wikipedia correct what it described as "spelling mistakes" in the online encyclopedia's Tajik-language content. The committee claims that numerous Tajik words have been misspelled and warns the errors violate the country's state-language law and therefore make Wikipedia legally liable for the mistakes.

[Radio_Free_Europe_Radio_Liberty; Prague,_CZ; 2017-10-03]

USC ISI researchers develop universal language translation system

Since its latest edition, the Google Translate application now supports over 100 languages and serves a worldwide community of over 500 million users virtually. But over 6,000 languages are actually spoken, with around 360 languages spoken by a million people or more.

[Daily_Trojan; Los_Angeles,_CA,_US; 2017-10-02]

Invented rules, and those that follow them

When, a couple of years ago at a conference of the American Copy Editors Society, the editors of the Associated Press Stylebook announced that they were dropping the over/more than entry, there was a great wailing and gnashing of teeth and rending of garments.

[The_Baltimore_Sun; Baltimore,_MD,_US; 2017-09-30]

A Word, Please: A look at a couple incorrect corrections

No one ever tells me I’m wrong. In all the years I’ve been writing about grammar, I’ve heard from a lot of readers who disagree with me. Many have pointed out errors I’ve made. Some have pointed out errors I’ve made that I didn’t actually make.

[Los_Angeles_Times; Los_Angeles,_CA,_US; 2017-09-28]

Farewell, ‘Dictionary of American Regional English’ — but Keep in Touch

During half a century of painstaking research that gradually brought the Dictionary of American Regional English into being, its staff, friends, and benefactors have found many occasions to celebrate its progress, volume by volume starting in 1985 and ending just a few years ago with the publication of the final Volume 6, accommodating some 60,000 words that are often missing from other dictionaries because they are used only in parts of our vast nation.

[The_Chronicle_of_Higher_Education; Washington,_DC,_US; 2017-09-26]

Today, we speak what is easy: Language in modernity

The BBC’s Hephzibah Anderson’s article ‘How Americanisms are killing the English language’ is a response to a recently published book by Matthew Engel— That’s the Way it Crumbles: The American Conquest of English. The book claims that ‘Americanisms’ will contribute to the fall of true British English by 2120. However, this raises a crucial question: what constitutes this ‘true British English’? Can we really blame the US for its influence? And, if such influence is proving so harmful, why is the English language so susceptible to change?

[Palatinate; Durham,_UK; 2017-09-25]

This Spelling Test from 1974 Will Drive You Insane

Demons are real. And they write spelling tests.

The words you’ll find on the quiz below are all examples of what Kottmeyer called “spelling demons” —regularly-used English words that are each notoriously tricky to spell, often due to our language’s squishy rules about doubling consonants and pairing vowels (reminder: “i before e except after c” is wrong 75 percent of the time). Despite making English spelling his life’s work, Kottmeyer was keen to address the ridiculousness of our language.

[Reader's_Digest; New_York,_NY,_US; 2017-09-22]

Noah Webster Statue

This tribute to the founding father of the American dictionary originally contained a spelling error.

In Blue Back Square in West Hartford, Connecticut, there stands a towering tribute to Noah Webster. The Connecticut native is known as a pioneer of American English spelling and is credited with creating the first American dictionary. His stern-faced statue peers over those passing by the public library, which was named after him.

[Atlas_Obscura; Brooklyn,_NY,_US; 2017-09-21]

Our Alt-Universe

A year ago, on the day after April Fools’ Day, the Associated Press announced that soon internet would no longer begin with a capital letter. No fooling.

[The_Chronicle_of_Higher_Education; Washington,_DC,_US; 2017-09-21]

Brexit could create a new ‘language’ – Euro-English

The EU may develop its own unique form of English and could swing the global balance on American versus English spellings of words like 'harbor' and 'organization'

Brexit could lead to the development of a new form of the English language, according to a new academic paper. Dr Marko Modiano, of Gavle University in Sweden, said there were already signs that “Euro-English” was developing its own distinct way of speaking. And this could eventually be codified in a dictionary and taught in schools in much the same way that American or Australian English is today if English is retained as the lingua franca of the European Union after the UK leaves.

[Independent; London,_UK; 2017-09-20]

Teaching reading – it’s simple but not simplistic

The Simple View of Reading differentiates between two dimensions of reading: Word recognition processes and Language comprehension processes. It makes clear that different kinds of teaching are necessary to promote word recognition skills from those needed to foster the comprehension of spoken and written language, which is the goal of reading. Though considered separately, both dimensions are essential to reading. It is of first importance for teachers of reading to be clear about which of these two dimensions their teaching aims to develop, and make sure each of them is taught explicitly.

[Teacher_Magazine; Camberwell,_VIC,_AU; 2017-09-20]

A Child’s Garden of ‘Verses’

You learn all kinds of things on Facebook. The other day, my friend Michael Regan, a suburban dad who in his other life is a journalist for Bloomberg News, posted: “Are my kids the only ones who use the word ‘versus’ as a verb? Like, ‘What team are we versing at the game on Saturday?’” Uh, no. That was clear from the torrent of comments — 67, to this point.

[The_Chronicle_of_Higher_Education; Washington,_DC,_US; 2017-09-19]

School basics get a boost they need

Parents taking a child to school for the first time will not know it, but they are entering a battleground. The war being fought here amid the desks and books and blackboards is not physical but intellectual and professional – over the best way to teach reading. Should children sound out each letter of a word, learn to combine them, and discover reading that way? Or should they use clues from the context, pictures and hints in the shape and initial letter of the word to reach the same objective?

[The_Sydney_Morning_Herald; Sydney,_NSW,_AU; 2017-09-19]

Does poor spelling really mean Donald Trump isn’t fit to be president?

In the aftermath of a controversial clash of protests in Boston, Donald Trump sent out a tweet about the need to heal the nation – managing in the process to misspell the word “heal”. He then quickly deleted the tweet, resent it with the same mistake, deleted the second attempt, until finally getting it right the third time around.

[The_Conversation; London,_UK; 2017-09-12]

Why Stuff is introducing macrons for te reo Māori words

It's a truth that should be self evident: as an official language of New Zealand, te reo Māori deserves to be held in the same esteem as English.

Macrons are the horizontal lines above some vowels. They indicate a longer vowel sound. For instance, the macron in Māori gives it an 'a' sound like in 'car'.

[Stuff; Wellington,_NZ; 2017-09-11]

Kiwi accent might affect literacy, experts say

The vowel shift that creates the saying "fush and chups" could hinder the way Kiwis learn English.

Some said the "vowel shift" in New Zealand English – the pronunciation that makes "fish and chips" sound like "fush and chups" and "pen" sound like "pin" to other English speakers – made spelling difficult. However, they cautioned against blaming Kiwi's poor literacy on the national accent alone. Teacher education and brain development had an impact.

[Stuff; Wellington,_NZ; 2017-09-09]

How Americanisms are killing the English language

A book released this year claims that Americanisms will have completely absorbed the English language by 2120.

So it turns out I can no longer speak English. This was the alarming realisation foisted upon me by Matthew Engel’s witty, cantankerous yet nonetheless persuasive polemic That’s the Way it Crumbles: The American Conquest of English. Because by English, I mean British English.

[BBC; London,_UK; 2017-09-06]

Spelling, Agin

Farhad Manjoo is of the mind that mockery of Donald Trump’s spelling mistakes exhibits elitism. It’s a vexed question that I’ve addressed once before in this forum. There’s no doubt that making fun of people for frequent spelling mistakes, not to mention numerous typos, can prove to be an unkind jab at a dyslexic person, or a crass implication that poor spelling equates to stupidity. It is also true that an exceptionally bright, well-read person can be a lousy speller, often because of one of several problems that fall under the umbrella of dyslexia.

[The_Chronicle_of_Higher_Education; Washington,_DC,_US; 2017-09-05]

Exclusive: This year's Sats spelling test was harder than in 2016, figures suggest

Just 13 per cent of pupils spelt "coarse" correctly in 2017 test.

He said: "The question that challenged most children was the last question: 'The prickly jumper was made from a coarse material'. Only 13 per cent answered the question correctly, and you could argue that many children have no concept of wearing a scratchy jumper, and therefore didn’t know which homophone to use.

[TES; London,_UK; 2017-09-04]

No, Insisting on Proper English Grammar and Spelling Is Not ‘Elitist’

Those who say it is can only hurt the very people they claim to be defending.

In an op-ed for the New York Times this past Sunday, columnist Farhad Manjoo urged Twitter users to let up on President Trump’s poor spelling in tweets, arguing that caring about spelling or grammar is “elitist,” and that linguistic propriety was unnecessary on Twitter because the platform’s brevity and immediacy make mistakes inevitable. There are a number of problems with this argument, but the most concerning is its subtle endorsement of the woefully misguided idea that the insistence on proper English is oppressive.

[National_Review; New_York,_NY,_US; 2017-09-01]


"Unpresidented" acts of covfefe aside, President Donald Trump's tweets have become known for his rampant misspellings. Friday morning, another example of conventional spelling bit the dust as Trump tweeted that "Texas is heeling fast" in the wake of Hurricane Harvey's devastation.

[Newsweek; London,_UK; 2017-09-01]

Your Kiwi accent is not the problem – English spelling is

The English spelling norms we have today are a mess for a number of reasons.

Two literacy tutors are quoted as saying that the New Zealand vowels are a particular problem for children and dyslexics when learning to read. But this cannot be true. Kiwi vowels are no more of a problem than anyone else's vowels are. The problem with learning to read English is not our Kiwi accent; the problem is the crazy English spelling system.

[Stuff; Wellington,_NZ; 2017-09-01]

Etymology gleanings for August 2017: “Getting on one’s wick” and other “nu-kelar” problems of etymology

Not long ago, Mr. Gogate sent letters on the Reform to many interested parties. I was one of them. First, he pointed out that in India millions of people speak English and that they might not or even would not agree to change the spelling of English words. Moreover, he pointed out, millions of websites will refuse to be respelled.

[OUP_Blog; Oxford,_UK; 2017-08-30]

The President’s Tweets Matter

And so should their spelling

I don’t know why the paper of record decided to publish a piece arguing that precision of language is unimportant, but I’ll paraphrase Trump to be as clear as I can be about it: Sad!

[The_Ringer; Washington,_DC,_US; 2017-08-30]

Whitlam health minister Everingham dies

Doug Everingham, one of the more eccentric members of Gough Whitlam's Labor government, has died aged 94. He was also an effective health minister - or "helth", as the spelling reform crusader preferred - throughout the Whitlam years.

[Nine,com,au; Sydney,_NSW,_AU; 2017-08-29]

Listen, you guys, I'm okay about Americanisms creeping into traditional English language

Language barrier: there have long been concerns about the US influence on our native tongue

How are you? "I'm good." To which the correct answer is: "I was enquiring about your health, rather than your moral character." But the Americanism "I'm good" - instead of "I'm well" (or "fine", or the nice Hibernicism, "I'm grand") - is already so engrained that there is no hope of erasing it. It is probably derived from German "Ich bin gut": it's certainly not old English practice.

[Belfast_Telegraph; Belfast,_UK; 2017-08-28]

Enforcing the rules of language

Proper grammar and spelling should be emphasized from a young age

The use of proper grammar and correct spelling is often overlooked, and often seen as something that’s only necessary for English majors and copy editors. Why would it be useful for anyone else to know how to use commas in a sentence or the difference between “your” and “you’re”? It can be difficult to understand why something that seems like an arbitrary set of rules is important. However, if the uses of proper grammar and spelling were stressed from an elementary level, college students and prospective employees would not be struggling with how to utilize these rules, nor would they be suffering the consequences of improper usage.

[Pipe_Dream; Binghampton,_NY,_US; 2017-08-28]

Weighing in on the ancient ‘I before E except after C’ rule

Back when I was at school English spelling was simple: I had to come before E, except after C

It was an iron-clad rule. No kid or their neighbour deigned to seize the moment by disagreeing. The usual forfeit was swift reinforcement, either via some heinous and weird punishment, by seismic kick to the keister, or something in similar vein.

[Mathhew_Wright_Blog; NZ; 2017-08-26]

REVEALED: 90 per cent of Britons struggle with spelling: How well would you do?

More than 90 per cent of Britons are so bad at spelling that they rely on some form of spellcheck to avoid mistakes, a survey reveals.

The survey of 1,000 people found 92 per cent of UK adults use autocorrect, online spellcheckers and dictionaries to avoid mistakes. The results, released by Oxford Open Learning Trust, looked into the importance Britons place on spelling and whether we feel embarrassed by our mistakes.

[Daily_Express; London,_UK; 2017-08-25]

Élite Politesse

The New Yorker style as content-generation machine

WHEN, IN 2012, THE COPY EDITOR MARY NORRIS took to The New Yorker’s website to defend its comma usage against the charge that it was “nutty,” a new era in the history of the magazine’s style was inaugurated. Norris was suddenly impossible to escape, extemporizing on everything from semicolons to bespoke pencil sharpening to National Punctuation Day.

[The_Baffler; New_York,_NY,_US; 2017-08-23]

Cheese for the bee-ah: a Limerick man’s struggle to learn Australian

I was not quite prepared for the assault on my senses the Australian accent would bring

Twain was fond of the people, describing them as having “English friendliness with the English shyness and self-consciousness left out”. But this didn’t stop him having a crack at Australians’ propensity to turn an “a” spelling into a “y” pronunciation. He recalled a hotel chambermaid’s comments: “The tyble is set, and here is the pyper; and if the lydy is ready I’ll tell the wyter to bring up the breakfast.”

[The_Irish_Times; Dublin,_IE; 2017-08-23]

Schools need to shun spelling bees which are being pushed into English medium schools of metro cities

Many language teachers praise the virtues of consulting dictionaries and word power books. Often, it is drummed into the heads of students that this will improve their vocabulary. However, meaningful teachers and linguists denounce such acts as part of good teaching since such activities make language learning mechanical. Last year, spelling competitions among students across major cities in India were held by advocating that such competitions create an awareness of the 'necessity to spell and pronounce words correctly' and 'enthusiasm amongst students to learn new words'.

[Merinews; Gurgaon,_IN; 2017-08-22]

The fascinating English words which actually originated in India

As India celebrates 70 years of independence from the UK, here’s a selection of words from across India which are now commonplace in English.

[The_Irish_News; Belfast,_UK; 2017-08-15]

TEFL Org UK expands into the US as it seeks growth in key markets

The Inverness-based teaching business aims to provide high-quality instruction to meet demand for American-accented English

A Scottish teaching business has expanded into the US in order to provide high-quality instruction in TEFL training to meet the demand for American-accented English in key markets, such as China and Spain.

[insider,co,uk; Glasgow,_UK; 2017-08-14]

Words of the Week: Malay Words

Europeans have been trading with Malaysians and their neighboring Indonesian islanders since the 16th century. The Dutch and the British, over many years of commercial and colonial contact, adopted a number of words from the various Malay languages and dialects. Some denote plants and animals; others indicate trade goods.

[Bozeman_Daily_Chronicle; Bozeman,_MT,_US; 2017-08-11]

Our American forefathers' English had a pronounced difference

IF THE COLONISTS, or early Americans after the Revolution, came back to life and spoke to us, we would struggle to understand them. Back then, many words were pronounced differently from today. Take our word “knee” for example. Those early folks would likely have said “t’nee.” The “th” in “father” would have rhymed with “lather,” “calm,” and “ram.” Many people rhymed “war” with “car” or “care.” And “was” came out “wuzz” or “wass.”

[The_Herald; Sharon,_PA,_US; 2017-08-06]

Are creeping Americanisms your bugaboo? This will likely tick you off

When it comes to hating this hot mess, the Irish are nearly as British as the British themselves

The Fall of the Empire: The Americanization [sic] of English analysed 15 million books and 30 million tweets to determine which nationalities are most at home to US spelling and vocabulary.

[The_Irish_Times; Dublin,_IE; 2017-07-29]

English doesn't always 'make cents'

Every once in a wile — I mean awhile, I have a grate — make that great — deal of fun with the English language. Tonight, while the stars are out, but the lights are on (If they were out, I couldn’t right, I mean write.), I thought I wood look at some of the strange things about English.

[Port_Clinton_News_Herald; Fremont,_OH,_US; 2017-07-27]

Toddlers begin learning rules of reading, writing at very early age, study finds

Even the proudest of parents may struggle to find some semblance of meaning behind the seemingly random mish-mash of letters that often emerge from a toddler's first scribbled and scrawled attempts at putting words on paper. But new research from Washington University in St. Louis suggests that children as young as 3 already are beginning to recognize and follow important rules and patterns governing how letters in the English language fit together to make words.

[Medical_Xpress; Douglas,_Isle_of_Man,_UK; 2017-07-25]

Should the Americanisation (or Americanization) of English worry us?

From the first settlers to the New World, English speakers have absorbed myriad influences – modern anxieties about ‘corruption’ say a lot about our times

But very few things have engendered as much debate as the language we speak – from Jonathan Swift’s concerns in 1712 that English would fall from use like Latin, and Samuel Johnson’s attempt in the mid-18th century to “preserve the purity” of the English language, to fresh claims that the “state of innocence” in which British English once existed has been “corrupted” by Americanisms.

[The_Guardian; London,_UK; 2017-07-24]

Why Is 'Colonel' Pronounced 'Ker'nel?'

By the 15th century, Italian forces were known for being good at war. So, many Italian war terms spread across Europe, including the word "colonel." It comes from the Italian word ‘colonnello.’ This is the position given to the officer responsible for a small force or column of soldiers.

[Voice_of_America; Washington,_DC,_US; 2017-07-22]

The power of the brain

I’m always amazed with the human brain. A few years ago I wrote a column looking at how you can read mixed up words so long as the first and last letters are correct: so, it wluod look sethiomng lkie tihs and the bairn unscemralbs it. The brain will also replace constant numbers that are standing in place of letters: 5o, 5om3th1ng 71ke th1s c4n st177 b3 r34d.

[Carlyle_Observer; Carlyle,_SK,_CA; 2017-07-21]


The American Conquest Of English

[book review]. ‘A nation that has lost the will to live': Matthew Engel's new novel reveals how Americanisms got into 'proper' English language (and the culprits are not who you think).

[Daily_Mail; London,_UK; 2017-07-20]

Fears of British English’s disappearance are overblown

America is influencing all kinds of English, not just the British kind. But diversity is safe for a long time yet

American influence on global (not just British) English is rising. But varieties from Ireland to India to Australia retain a clear identity. Even within America, local dialects, especially the southern one, are going strong. All of these, and British English too, are constantly innovating. Mr Engel is right to dread a “linguistic monoculture”. He is wrong to think that it is likely.

[The_Economist; London,_UK; 2017-07-20]

Tried and true methods for helping struggling readers

Student disengagement is a frustration for teachers, parents and the kids themselves. Nobody wants to be bored, be made to do work that overwhelms them or they see no point in doing.

Some students can’t read well and avoid doing it (the struggling reader) while others can read and choose not to (the reluctant reader) and this problem affects learning in other areas. As a seasoned reading advocate, author, literacy intervention specialist, EAL specialist for new arrivals and primary teacher, I have a list of tried and tested ideas which have supported my young struggling readers.

[Education_HQ_New_Zealand; Auckland,_NZ; 2017-07-19]

Capitalising for linguistic peace

After years of debate, the German alphabet has got a new letter, but not everybody is happy about it

At the end of June, the Council for German Orthography (Rechtschreibrat) decided that Germany’s unique character ß, called the ‘eszett’ or the ‘sharp s’ required official action to be taken in order for names containing a double ‘s’ and those containing the ß to be distinguishable. As a result, the upper-case eszett is now an official part of German orthography and although its use is not compulsory, it may now be written as ẞ.

[Geographical; London,_UK; 2017-07-19]

‘The Americans Have No Adverbs’

I still remember the awful woman I met at a reception during an English Speaking Union meeting on George Street, Edinburgh, in 2008 (I mentioned her here once before). She told me loudly and confidently, as if playing Lady Bracknell on stage, that English was rapidly degrading; for example, “The Americans have no adverbs. Absolutely none. They’ve just got rid of them.”

[The_Chronicle_of_Higher_Education; Washington,_DC,_US; 2017-07-17]

Do you want fries with that? Data shows Americanization of English is rising

A new study documents the speed at which American English has stretched around the globe – and its influence is even felt within the UK

The Fall of the Empire: The Americanization of English analyzed 15 million digitized books published between 1800 and 2010, as well as over 30 million geolocated tweets. The authors searched for differences in vocabulary (eggplant v aubergine, or liquor store v off-licence) as well as differences in spelling (estrogen v oestrogen, or travelling v traveling).

[The_Guardian; London,_UK; 2017-07-13]

After century of dispute, the German alphabet just got a new character

At the end of June, the German Spelling Council decided to add a capital ß (Eszett) to the language, bringing to an end a debate that had raged on in the world of German orthography since the 19th century.

[The_Local; Stockholm,_SE; 2017-07-11]

Chinglish signs may be a thing of the past if talks of new rules prove to be true

HILARIOUSLY bad English signs may be a thing of the past by the end of the year, since the authorities are said to be clamping down on poor translations that have the potential to “damage the country’s image.”

[Shanghai_Daily; Shanghai,_CN; 2017-07-08]

Why is American English becoming part of everyday usage in India?

One reason is the widespread engagement of English speakers in the country with American television content.

One lives in the hope that Indian English can counter this Americanisation. The strange thing is that Indians who have a command over the language are willing to embrace the American “Do the math” but frown on the Indian “We are like that only”.

[Scroll; IN; 2017-07-07]

Is texting hurting us academically? Experts respond

Though research has been conducted on this topic, no substantial evidence has proven that literacy is affected by texting; however, inside the classroom is a different story. Teacher Barbara Barbarite feels that acronyms and bad grammar habits are carried from texting to schoolwork, saying, “Their writing has turned into a stream of consciousness because that’s how they text. There’s no structure. I find their capitalization is bad and I’d bet it’s because they’re so used to autocorrect capitalizing and correcting for them, so it’s become a huge problem.”

[Campus_News; New_York,_NY,_US; 2017-07-06]

Almost 40% of primary school pupils in England failed to meet the Government's expected standard in reading, writing and maths, national SATs tests results show

Figures released by the Department for Education showed 61 per cent of pupils reached the expected standard in 2017, up from 53 per cent in 2016. But this means 39 per cent of pupils failed to reach the expected standard across all three subjects of reading, writing and maths this year.

[Mail_Online; London,_UK; 2017-07-04]

Two in five Sats pupils fail 3Rs as critics say schools are still not teaching new system properly

The results, which are used in annual school league tables, showed that 39 per cent of primary school pupils in England failed to meet the Government's expected standard in reading, writing and maths. The Government launched a new "tougher" curriculum last year, which more than half a million 11-year-olds across England took national curriculum tests in May. Chris McGovern, a former Government advisor who was consulted by the Department for Education (DfE) on re-designing the tests, said that more must be done to educate teachers on how to teach the new system.

[The_Telegraph; London,_UK; 2017-07-04]

Why an Irish language Act would be a total disaster for Irish

Both Gaelic and Ulster Scots will never thrive as long as they remain a political football

The first Irish Language Act was in the reign of James I of England and VI of Scotland. It was known as the Statutes of Iona and required Highland gentlemen to send their sons to the Lowlands to be educated through "Inglis", as the Scots English tongue was then known. The Gaelic language in Scotland was then known as "Irish". Symmetrically, our proposed Irish Language Act may be in the reign of Elizabeth II of England and I of Scotland, and is also likely to do major damage to the Irish language.

[Belfast_Telegraph; Belfast,_UK; 2017-07-03]

That’s the Way It Crumbles: The American Conquest of English by Matthew Engel – review

Matthew Engel urges us to hang tough against Americanisms in this entertaining history of linguistic imperialism

Throughout his entertaining history, Engel argues for a stout forward defence against this onslaught of “cool” and “fun” and “you guys”. He believes Brits must dig in against the curveballs of slang that come thick and fast from left field and adopt a stiff upper lip even to apparent no-brainers such as “yeah” and “hi”. He suggests that as we exit Europe and moor ourselves in mid-Atlantic, the linguistic garbage will only pile up. Almost half in earnest, he proposes a Mary Whitehouse-style campaign as first redoubt: “If there were enough Twitter-shamings every time a BBC correspondent said ‘specialty stores’ or ‘life vests’ or ‘appealing the decision’ the number of incidents would decline dramatically,” he suggests. To which the only response seems to fall somewhere between “tell me about it” and “don’t even go there”.

[The_Guardian; London,_UK; 2017-07-03]

The ‘i before e, except after c’ rule is a giant lie

“I before E, except after C.” The familiar grade school mnemonic is a “supreme, and for many people solitary, spelling rule,” linguist Edward Carney wrote in “A survey of English spelling.” Its primacy has been acknowledged in English grammar textbooks from 1866 (James Stuart Laurie's “Manual of English Spelling,") until the present day (Bryan Garner's “Modern English Usage"). But like many, many other rules in the English language, it turns out this one is built on a foundation of lies.

[The_Washington_Post; Washington,_DC,_US; 2017-06-28]

Why is Leeds called Leeds?

We say our city's name on a daily basis - yet how often do we stop to think about its origins?

The original form of the name was Loidis, and it referred to a forested area of the Celtic kingdom of Elmet. Around the year 731, Bede mentioned the settlement in his writings, and it also appears in the Domesday Book after the Norman invasion. By this time, the Old English spelling of Ledes was being used, but it is thought to be an Anglo-Saxon version of the Celtic name. Until the 1700s it appears as Leedes on maps.

[Yorkshire_Evening_Post; Leeds,_UK; 2017-06-27]

Apostrophes That Make You Go Hmmm

Among the conundrums that apostrophes pose, one of the more perplexing is what to do with proper nouns that end in -s. Is it Chris’s mistake or Chris’ mistake? Does it matter for the spelling whether you pronounce that possessive ending on Chris with an extra syllable? Do aesthetics play any role?

[The_Chronicle_of_Higher_Education; Washington,_DC,_US; 2017-06-25]

Spelling proficiency

I’m not sure if it’s worse than anywhere else but it’s not good. The fact that we struggle with spelling is pretty obvious. From our region being spelled “Cariboo” as opposed to “Caribou” to the city to the north of us being spelled “Williams Lake” as opposed to “William’s Lake,” our spelling and grammatical prowess are embedded with our history. Though, to say that Canadians are bad spellers fails to take into consideration the sociohistorical factors at play; we’re set up for failure.

[100_Mile_Free_Press; 100_Mile_House,_BC,_CA; 2017-06-21]

The dumbest mistake you can make on your CV

Making a typo or spelling mistake on a job application or CV is an easy error to make and an easy one to avoid, but still, most of us are guilty. An analysis of 40,000 Australian CVs submitted as part of genuine job applications, showed two thirds of Australian jobseekers were limiting their chances of landing a job due to sloppy spelling.

[The_Daily_Examiner; Grafton,_NSW,_AU; 2017-06-21]

Testing the trappings of tradition

In light of our strict adherence to AP Style, a concern arises: at what point does editing toe the line between revision and identity erasure? Written English commonly disseminated in newspapers and spoken by news reporters — referred to as standard English — is obviously different from that we use among friends or in the classroom. Because the purpose of standard English purports to be clarity, it receives a privileged usage in spoken and written news. Because of this privileged usage, it often finds itself idealized and then used to debase non-standard English, especially in spoken dialects such as African-American Vernacular English, or AAVE.

[The_Daily_Californian; Berkeley,_CA,_US; 2017-06-19]

Using phonics can help children

Phonics produces incredible results. I've never seen a student learn phonics and not improve. I'm not saying that phonics is the whole answer, but it is a fantastic foundation that children can build on to become great readers and spellers. A study in Scotland found that children taught intensive phonics in their first year of school who were tested for reading and spelling in Year 7 were years ahead of a control group who had not received such instruction.

[New_Zealand_Herald; Auckland,_NZ; 2017-06-14]

I Can’t Live Without Spell Check

My struggles with spelling didn’t really emerge until high school and college when I had to produce long compositions. Before that, spelling was one of my best subjects. I could easily memorize the weekly spelling lists and generally got 100 percent on the tests. Then, poof, those correct spellings would vanish from my mind.

[Chicago_Now; Chicago,_IL,_US; 2017-06-12]

Spelling still matters despite texting - academic

Spelling matters more than ever in the texting era, says Professor Tom Nicholson.

"As for teaching the rules, there is a point at which there are too many exceptions and the rules can, if you over-emphasise them and are explicit about them on their own, they actually get in the way because the kids spend too much time thinking about the rules rather than the actual writing."

[New_Zealand_Herald; Auckland,_NZ; 2017-06-12]

Zero to hero - why spelling still matters in the digital age

Recently I gave a talk to parents about phonics. It was called Zero to Hero, and I explained that phonics could help children who struggle with reading and writing by showing them how to crack the code.

[New_Zealand_Herald; Auckland,_NZ; 2017-06-12]

The Indian conquest of a US national contest

Fully 18 out of the last 22 winners (some years include ties, with two winners) including all winners in the last 10 years — are Indian American.

[The_Daily_Star; Dhaka,_BD; 2017-06-10]

The state of spelling in the age of Google

Gud spellen is eazier than ever, thanks to computers and spellcheck. And then there are the finalists of the National Spelling Bee, who took the stage last Thursday night to tackle some of the most obscure words in the English language the old-fashioned way — with a lexicographer’s understanding of the rules and brute memorization.

[Albert_Lea_Tribune; Albert_Lea,_MN,_US; 2017-06-07]

Trump’s covfefe takes hold in the land of the spelling bee

But do the American president’s orthographical errors really matter?

[subscription] Roughly 300 American children descended upon an inauspicious conference centre in the DC suburbs last week for one of the most wholesome of childhood pastimes: the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

[Financial_Times; London,_UK; 2017-06-07]

That’s not a croissant on your lapel

Maybe no one else cares about grammar and spelling. If only I didn’t. The level of improper English was high before Trump came to office and it’s steadily going downhill since. Not that Trump can be blamed for all of it, despite his Grade 6 comprehension level and Grade 7 vocabulary, comprised largely of superlatives like Fantastic, Fabulous, Great.

[Terrace_Standard; Terrace,_BC,_CA; 2017-06-03]

hey dude, u shud;/ read tHIs

Forsooth, English hath forsaken its dignity

As some of you may know, I am not a stickler when it comes to the English language. Beyond striving for clarity and brevity, I don't worry about rules my mother and my elementary schoolteachers insisted on. All languages are fluid. Those that aren't do not survive.

[The_Hamilton_Spectator; Hamilton,_ON,_CA; 2017-06-03]

Ananya Vinay Wins The 2017 U.S. Scripps National Spelling Bee

She correctly spelled the word marocain, a dress fabric made of warp of silk or rayon and a filling of other yarns.

Ananya Vinay of Fresno, California won the Scripps National Spelling Bee on Thursday, taking home a $40,000 cash prize after 12 hours of picking her way along a precarious lifeline of consonants and vowels. Vinay, 12, correctly spelled the word marocain, a dress fabric made of warp of silk or rayon and a filling of other yarns, to win the spelling bee held at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in suburban Washington.

[Huffington_Post; New_York,_US; 2017-06-02]

Why Is The Scripps National Spelling Bee Hard? Because English Is, Too

Since 1996, contestants have spelled over 14,000 words and missed about 1 in 4 of them.

Last night, Ananya Vinay won the Scripps National Spelling Bee by spelling the word "marocain" — a dress fabric. That's one of more than 14,000 words contestants at the Scripps National Spelling Bee have tried to spell since 1996. Even though most competitors are native English-speakers, they still miss about 1 in 4 words. This contest is difficult. There are a lot of possible words. A committee picks them from Merriam-Webster Unabridged English dictionary, which has nearly half a million entries.

[Newsy; Columbia,_MO,_US; 2017-06-02]

In defence of grammar pedantry

It’s really ok to be a grammar pedant

There are two kinds of people in this world: pedants and everybody else. Pedantry isn’t confined to grammar, of course. Pedantry can be found in architecture, cooking (for example, Julian Barnes’s lovely little book The Pedant in the Kitchen), geometry, music, philosophy, politics and science. Think Sheldon Cooper in The Big Bang Theory, the most popular show on American television.

[The_Conversation; London,_UK; 2017-06-01]

Inside the National Spelling Bee: Dissecting the winning words

At the National Spelling Bee, kids come from all over the country to spell words that find their roots all over the world. It doesn't matter if you're in kindergarten, like first-timer Edith Fuller or 8th Grade, like competition veteran Tejas Muthusamy, asking for a word's derivation is elementary to contestants here. And whatever Dr. Jacques Bailly's answer is Latin, Greek, French, German, Spanish, some mix of any of them, or even the dreaded "unknown origin," the kids will use that information to help guide them forward.

[WCPO; Cincinnati,_OH,_US; 2017-06-01]

Last Week Tonight's' John Oliver is a Spelling Bee superfan

"Last Week Tonight" host John Oliver says because he's British, people in America think he can't spell. While wishing good luck to spellers in the 90th Scripps National Spelling Bee, Oliver said that thanks to British English, he has trouble spelling "colour," "centre" and, ironically, "humour."

[WCPO; Cincinnati,_OH,_US; 2017-06-01]

A Truculent Pride': National Spelling Bee Relies on Quirkiness of English

The language's oddities ensure the continuing popularity of spelling bees

The United States has a long tradition of spelling bees dating to the 19th century, when both children and adults competed. They were in vogue in the United Kingdom in the mid-19th century but for the most part, are a particularly American phenomenon, said Geoffrey Nunberg, a linguist at the School of Information at the University of California Berkeley. “You have to have a goofy spelling system,” he said. “Most languages spell more or less as they pronounce the words.” But English’s Anglo-Saxon roots, the influence of Greek, Latin, French and other languages have all contributed to a mishmash of spelling rules and a mismatch between spelling and pronunciation.

[NBC_Bay_Area; San_Jose,_CA,_US; 2017-05-31]

Minnesotans Can’t Spell ‘Beautiful’; Wisconsinites Can’t Spell ‘Wisconsin’

While Minnesotans often boast about the beauty of our lake-dappled state, we apparently have trouble spelling the word “beautiful.” On Tuesday, Google tweeted “America’s Most Misspelled Words” in honor of the Scripps National Spelling Bee, with state-by-state data on the top “how to spell” searches of 2017. For the Land of 10,000 Lakes, the trickiest word was “beautiful,” one that also proved difficult for Ohioans, Kentuckians, New Yorkers and Californians.

[CBS_Minnesota; Minneapolis,_MN,_US; 2017-05-30]

Michiganders misspell this word the most, according to Google

There is one word Michiganders misspell more than any other word.

The Scripps National Spelling Bee kicks off this week in Washington D.C., as some of the best and brightest will try to spell some of the hardest words in the English language. USA Today and Google pulled the most misspelled words in each state. Michigan's most misspelled word is: pneumonia. Alabama, Illinois, Maine and Washington all had the same word.

[Click_On_Detroit; Detroit,_MI,_US; 2017-05-30]

Between driver’s license and driving licence

The American culture is a powerful one. Whether it is its music, film, fashion or even socio-political tradition, it has a way of penetrating the world fast. Not fastly, though! The reality could apply to communication too. That is why when some people are faced with the options of choosing between ‘center’ and ‘centre’, ‘color’ and ‘colour’ as well as ‘defense’ and ‘defence’, they usually prefer the first. To them, ‘center’ is a trendier term than ‘centre’.

[The_Punch; Lagos,_NG; 2017-05-30]

Genuine New Words

This month on Lingua Franca, Lucy Ferris gave a perfect example of her own new-word creation while “feeling nauseated on a long car ride when I was about 8. … I had heard of people being seasick. But we weren’t at sea. So I thought I would coin a new term for how I felt. ‘Mommy,’ I said from the back seat. ‘I think I’m carsick.’”

[The_Chronicle_of_Higher_Education; Washington,_DC,_US; 2017-05-29]

These are the hardest words to spell in health and science

There are a lot of weird words you learn to pronounce and spell if you pay much attention to health, science and the environment. By the time Iceland's spectacular volcanic eruption simmered down in 2010, for instance, “Eyjafjallajokull” was as familiar as “Mount Etna.” You should hear “Papahanaumokuakea” roll off the tongue of Juliet Eilperin, who has been reporting on the Hawaiian marine national monument for years.

[The_Washington_Post; Washington,_DC,_US; 2017-05-24]

Mnemonics: Tricks of the English trade

Are you struggling with remembering the spelling of words? Sigh no more as the answer lies in this article! There are many rules that, when learntproperly, can aid your memory of how to spell some tricky words. Take for instance, words spelt with ‘ie’ or is it ‘ei’ you keep asking? The following rule will guide you into spelling these words correctly.

[The_New_Times; Kigali,_RW; 2017-05-17]

Why we shouldn’t trash American English

Countdown’s resident wordsmith is taking to the airwaves to talk about why Americanisms are a gift

In all my years in Countdown’s Dictionary Corner, the subject most guaranteed to rankle with our viewers is the presence of Americanisms in the dictionary. It’s horrible, the emails cry, the wrong kind of English – an impure, degenerate impostor that should be banished from Oxford’s venerable pages for ever.

[Radio_Times; London,_UK; 2017-05-20]

Perhaps it's time to give up the fight against Americanisms

For some, they are the linguistic equivalent of nails down a blackboard, sure to leave them wincing at the abuse of the English language. But it may be time to give up the fight against Americanisms, Susie Dent the Countdown lexicographer has said, as she argues they are often closer to the true origin of words.

[The_Telegraph; London,_UK; 2017-05-16]

Can split digraphs help children learn to read and write?

It’s SAT season again, when many parents find themselves bewildered by the obscure grammatical devices their children must understand — thanks to Michael Gove

What is a split digraph? The words “bit” and “bite” differ both in the way they are spelled and the way they are said. The letter “e” indicates a way of saying the vowel between the “b” and the “t”. Advertisers make them up: “lite”. This tells us there’s a pattern here. Educationists say that drawing children’s attention to this helps them with reading and spelling.

[The_Guardian; London,_UK; 2017-05-13]

Britain will leave but English will remain

Reports of the language’s decline have been greatly exaggerated

[subscription] From hard borders to language barriers, European leaders are finding ever new ways to show Britain the price of Brexit. In a fresh dig at the UK last week, Jean-Claude Juncker, the European Commission president, declared that “slowly but surely, English is losing importance in Europe”. The joke went down well with his audience. Elsewhere, it has been taken a little too seriously — both by the UK media, which is still fuming, and by francophone Canadians, for whom the decline of French as the language of diplomacy has been especially painful.

[Financial_Times; London,_UK; 2017-05-12]

Well, it IS a tricky word! Funny chart reveals how 52 teens tried to spell 'camouflage' - with just TEN getting it right and one guessing 'camoflaugue'

A biology teacher quizzed his ninth-grade students (14-15) on the correct spelling of the word. They were not allowed to use computers or phones. 19.2% spelled the difficult vocab word correctly. Camouflage is actually a French word adopted by the English language, which accounts for its odd spelling.

[Daily_Mail; London,_UK; 2017-05-10]

Pity our children – they’re being turned into grammar robots at school

From adverbials to digraphs, the damage done by the government’s imposition of grammatical techniques is now there for all to see

If you have no idea what fronted adverbials or split digraphs mean, beyond thinking that they sound unpleasantly medical, then you almost certainly don’t have a small child. For along with expanded noun phrases and the present perfect, they’re all grammatical terms that children aged 11 and under are required to identify and master as part of a new English curriculum seemingly designed to strangle at birth any love of writing.

[The_Guardian; London,_UK; 2017-05-10]

‘Shameful’ figures reveal decline in school literacy

The findings of the Scottish Survey of Literacy and Numeracy also suggest that no progress has been made in tackling a deep attainment gap between pupils from rich and poor families

Standards of reading and writing in Scotland’s schools have fallen to “shameful” levels under the SNP, according to critics reacting to the publication of a damning official survey of literacy. Just half of S2 pupils are now hitting or exceeding the expected level in writing, a significant decline compared to four years ago when almost two thirds were doing well or better. Alongside the poor performance in writing, the proportion of pupils who can read well dropped in P4 by six percentage points and in P7 by two points between 2012 and 2016.

[The_Times; London,_UK; 2017-05-10]

Womyn, wimmin, and other folx

“Womxn” isn’t a typo. It’s a powerful, increasingly popular label, encompassing a broader range of gender identities than “woman” — or even older feminist terms such as “womyn.” Events such as January’s “Womxn’s March” in Seattle and “Womxn’s Energy Week” at Kirkland College have drawn attention to a word distinctly of our time: a nontraditional spelling for people whose gender identity doesn’t fit in the traditional boxes.

[Boston_Globe; Boston,_MA,_US; 2017-05-09]

Russian Orthodox Church criticizes Kazakhstan's shift away from Cyrillic script

"The single standard for the new Kazakh alphabet and Latin graphic signs must be developed by the end of 2017, after consultations with scientists and public representatives. Starting from 2018 specialists will be trained to teach the new alphabet and prepare secondary school textbooks. The organizing and methodology work should be carried out over the next two years," Nazarbayev said. Initially, the Latin script will be used alongside the Cyrillic one, he said The Kazakh Ministry of Education and Science set up a working group in charge of the transition to Latin spelling, which started work on April 13.

[Interfax; Moscow,_RU; 2017-05-08]

English (il)logic to blame for Māori pronunciation difficulties

Blenheim, Foveaux, D’urville. Three New Zealand place names with ridiculous spelling - "unpronounceable" even.

True blue locals must have had a meltdown seeing those. "Auē, te hē mārika o ngā ingoa nei!" ("Geez, what ridiculous names!") they must have said. But New Zealand still did it, and those locals still learnt to say them. The world didn’t burn and no haywire eventuated. Sadly, place names are fickle things for a few - proper nouns for "problematising". Whether it’s a macron in Ōtaki or Taupō, or an 'h' in Whanganui, the moment a place name is up for debate the muskets come out.

[Stuff; Wellington,_NZ; 2017-05-04]

Malacca to use 'Melaka' in official state correspondence

The English spelling of Malacca will no longer be used in official state correspondence, said the state government on Wednesday. The state exco has decided that the name "Melaka" be used instead.

[The_Star_(MY); Petaling_Jaya,_MY; 2017-05-03]

The meaning inside of words

Words are laden with grammatical meaning. Take, for instance, particular word endings like ‘–s’ in tables; this indicates the plural form of the word table. As humans, we learn this in our childhood as we acquire language. There are several theories as to what exactly the brain is learning and how children are able to produce the plural form of words they’ve never heard before.

[Times_of_Malta; Valetta,_MT; 2017-04-30]

Imperatives Of Spelling Exercise In Schools

Language is the human essence. It operates at two levels, namely: the phonic level (spoken language), and the graphic level (written language). English Language which is used globally, also manifests at these two levels. Therefore, in pursuance of proficiency and international intelligibility, neither the spoken aspect nor the written aspect should be neglected. Written English is the graphic representation of the English letters, sounds or symbols. In the view of TREGIDO (1962), “Literary or written English is more careful than spoken English. This is because, when anything is written down, it is often a permanent record which everyone can see, check and examine.” Thus, written English demands correct spelling of the English words. A wrongly-spelt word possesses a difficult problem to the reader and affects the proper understanding of its meaning.

[The_Tide; Port_Harcourt,_NG; 2017-04-26]

ASU professor uses German language to help students with dyslexia

At Arizona State University's School of International Letters and Cultures, teaching language helps prepare students for a globalized world. For Professor Sara Lee, it also lets her help students overcome dyslexia. “I see myself as a dyslexia specialist when it comes to teaching foreign language, especially German,” Lee said. According to the Dyslexia Center of Utah, in the U.S. 15 to 20 percent of students have a language-based learning disability, the most common of which is dyslexia. Lee explained that this often makes students insecure when it comes to language learning. Based on Lee’s work, however, students can excel regardless, especially with German.

[Arizona_State_University_News; Tempe,_AZ,_US; 2017-04-25]

Children with reading and spelling difficulties lag behind their peers despite special education

The reading skills of children with reading and spelling difficulties (RSD) lag far behind the age level in the first two school years, despite special education received from special education teachers. Furthermore, the spelling skills of children who in addition to RSD had other learning difficulties also lagged behind their peers in the first two school years.

[ScienceDaily; Rockville,_MD,_US; 2017-04-25]

Here's How British and American Spelling Parted Ways

Why do Brits and Americans spell certain words differently? A colourful tale of dictionaries, politics, and national identity ensues here.


[Mental_Floss; New_York,_NY,_US; 2017-04-20]

Phonics works. New research suggests that sounding out words is the best way to teach reading

There has been intense debate concerning how children should be taught to read. Researchers from Royal Holloway, University of London and the MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit tested whether learning to read by sounding out words is more effective than focusing on whole-word meanings. In order to assess the effectiveness of using phonics the researchers trained adults to read in a new language, printed in unfamiliar symbols, and then measured their learning with reading tests and brain scans.

[Royal_Holloway_News; London,_UK; 2017-04-20]

Lack of English knowledge could spell trouble across industries

In college, I edited student essays and learned that some people believed “next door neighbor” was written “next store neighbor.” I had to explain that you could not be an “FBI,” but you could be an “FBI agent.” So many students on the verge of graduating with a four-year degree didn’t understand that a complete sentence requires both a subject and a verb. Very few people know what a semicolon is; even fewer people actually know how to use it. To many people, “your” and “you’re” are interchangeable, as are “affect” and “effect,” “its” and “it’s,” or “to,” “too” and “two.”

[The_Galt_Herald; Galt,_CA,_US; 2017-04-19]

America’s Uncivil War Over Words

Americans can’t agree on much these days. They’ve obviously fallen out over politics. They can’t even agree on the facts. Now they’re fighting over words. For years, we mild-mannered lexicographers have been posting online about the most common lookup of the moment on our website. So when, in January, the White House press secretary, Sean Spicer, told reporters he wasn’t going to define the word “betrayal,” and lookups spiked, we saw it as our duty to post a definition.

[The_New_York_Times; New_York,_NY,_US; 2017-04-15]

School moves from woe to go in literacy

Educators in Australia are making impressive gains in literacy using phonics

Hillcrest Primary School in WA reports fantastic improvement in its children’s reading age while a report claims that O’Sullivan Beach School, south of Adelaide, SA found children in Year R-2 had a reading age seven months ahead of their chronological age and a spelling age nine months ahead.

[Education_HQ; Melbourne,_VIC,_AU; 2017-04-13]

Tadworth head teacher wants pupils who struggle to spell to stop being penalised

The head teacher of Tadworth school has launched a petition calling on changes to be made so primary pupils who struggle to spell are no longer penalised. Justin Kelly, head at Tadworth Primary School, has written a letter to parents sharing his reasons for setting up the appeal in the hope the Department of Education will make changes to the Key Stage 2 SATs test in Year 6 that "could make a big difference" to how students get on at the start of secondary school.

[Surrey_Mirror; Redhill,_UK; 2017-04-13]

Some facts about spelling

Over the past two weeks we have debunked some common spelling myths - from the idea that reading more will make one a better speller and that some people are weak spellers because they do not speak Standard English.

[Trinidad_and_Tobago_Guardian; Port_of_Spain,_TT; 2017-04-13]

Grammar-shammer: TOI joins a popular movement to liberate you from dictatorial rules of language

A hawk-eyed reader in Bengaluru every now and again points out a grammatical glitch or other lingual lapse in the paper. The reader’s ability to spot such mistakes is as admirable as it is misplaced, in that far from being oversights these errors are deliberate, and are part of a grand strategy to liberate English-users from the tyranny of the language’s many dictatorial rules.

[The_Times_of_India; Mumbai,_IN; 2017-04-12]

Spelng: Wat’s the Poynt?

Some people object to the practice of invented spelling, arguing that it produces bad habits that can be carried over into adulthood. While there might be some merit to this claim, there are others (particularly from the Natural Child Project) who argue that no one would ever forbid their child to speak until they had mastered the pronunciation of each word. Rather, parents encourage students to speak, engage in conversation, and then correct mispronunciations as they arise. That practice more than makes up for the mispronunciations that occur.

[Jewish_Press; New_York,_US; 2017-04-07]

Spelling myths vs facts

Spelling correctly is a skill that takes time and effort for everyone except the few who have very good visual memories. For most of us, seeing a word or reading it over and over is not enough to enable us to spell it correctly. We need to actively learn spelling.

[Trinidad_and_Tobago_Guardian; Port_of_Spain,_TT; 2017-04-06]

Spanish Spelling Bee

The Grants/Cibola County School District once again held their Annual Spanish Spelling Bee, or El Concurso de Deletreo en Espanol, on Tuesday morning, March 28 in the District Performing Arts Center.

[Cibola_Beacon; Grants,_NM,_US; 2017-04-05]


Ever had the sneaking suspicion that women speak in different tongues? If you were a Hunanese peasant woman in 20-century China, there was a kernel of truth to the old joke. Inside a hilly, remote village of Jiangyong County, unschooled women and girls developed a mysterious system of writing called Nüshu to express their innermost thoughts and passed around favorite songs, prayers, traditional tales, birthday letters and wedding congratulations to each other in coded script.

[Ozy; Mountain_View,_CA,_US; 2017-04-05]

You Say EEther, I Say AYEther

Say what you will about it, either deserves a second look. Or a second hearing. And neither too, for that matter. In a usage book like Merriam-Webster’s Concise Dictionary of English Usage, you’ll see that in its written form, either presents usage experts with conundrums, having to do with meaning and verb agreement. Even to summarize those discussions would occupy more space than this entire column, so forget about that. What I’m interested in is a simpler yet more mysterious matter: how you say it.

[The_Chronicle_of_Higher_Education; Washington,_DC,_US; 2017-04-04]

A language that separates us?

When it comes to handling the English language, some choose not to care much about complex English grammatical rules and terminology that are based on Latin, a dead language anyway. But, for the pretentious souls, the textures, subtleties, and nuances of language are significant enough concerns that make them refer to higher authorities for guidance, ‘A Dictionary of Modern English Usage’, (‘Fowler’) for routine advice on vocabulary, syntax and punctuation, and to ‘The King’s English’ when they need more detailed instructions on such subtleties as the appropriate uses of ‘shall and will’! Then, there is the perennial favourite of the Civil Service, ‘The Book of Plain Words’ by Sir Ernest Gowers, offering the simple advice: ‘Be short, be simple, be human’, easily the best advice on how to write English.

[The_Island; Colombo,_LK; 2017-04-04]

5 Live Drive

[audio] (Interview with Stephen Linstead on the Apostrophe Vigilante of Bristol. 41:42 – 47:47. Expires on 2017-05-03 approx.)

[BBC; London,_UK; 2017-04-03]

Why there are no native speakers of Standard English

My column from three weeks ago provoked a conversation at a scholarly online forum about the meaning, history, and utility of Standard English and about why we should continue to use English as our language of instruction at all levels of education in Nigeria. I will expound on Standard English this week and devote next week to discussing the benefits and drawbacks of instruction in our native languages. So what exactly is “Standard English”? Well, Standard English is the English that is taught in schools, that is codified in grammar books (starting from about the 18th century, as I will explain further), that is “curated” in dictionaries, and that is privileged in and popularized by mainstream media.

[Daily_Trust; Abuja,_NG; 2017-04-02]

Michigan teacher gives fake spelling test to students as April Fools' joke

A local teacher played an awesome prank on his class for April Fools' Day

[video] Joe Dombrowski, a fourth-grade teacher at Oakland Elementary School in Royal Oak, decided to give his students a phony spelling test. The teacher presented students with a bunch of made up words to spell, and of course, they didn't do very well. You can hear the students complaining while the correct spelling is announced for the made up words.

[ClickOnDetroit; Detroit,_MI,_US; 2017-03-30]

Landmark Study Finds Better Path to Reading Success

This study proves what exemplary teachers have been doing correctly for years.

In a landmark study two Canadian researchers in developmental psychology, Gene Ouellette and Monique Sénéchal (2017), have mapped the powerful beginning reading-writing connection, moved us closer to being successful teachers of reading in first grade, and cleared up decades of confusion. It’s important because reading scores in first grade have flatlined for decades—especially in the United States. This study can move us forward.

[Psychology_Today; New_York,_US; 2017-03-30]

Etymology gleanings for March 2017

The hope is to retain what we have but rid it of the most obvious silliness and redundancies (mute and double letters, among others).

[OUP_Blog; Oxford,_UK; 2017-03-29]

Spelling and knowhow: the oddest English spellings, part 23

We are so used to the horrors of English spelling that experience no inconvenience at reading the word knowhow. Why don’t know and how rhyme if they look so similar? Because such is life.

[OUP_Blog; Oxford,_UK; 2017-03-22]

The real language of life

As a writer, I often get excited about writing this column and sharing something I’ve discovered, learned or find motivating. With the writing of this very column I got all excited and then I hit a roadblock. I was thinking about the term “hay day,” an expression often used by we mountain folks, and then the roadblock problem was discovered. I am counting on the thought that many of you will be as I found myself to be with respect to a “hay day” expression.

[Harlan_Daily_Enterprise; Harlan,_KY,_US; 2017-03-21]

How to get primary students excited about spelling

[video] Language and literacy specialist Lyn Stone joins Teacher magazine in today’s video to discuss ways teachers can get primary school-aged children excited about spelling. She says that spelling goes beyond the ‘look, say, cover, write, check’ formula that has been used in schools in the past.

[Teacher_Magazine; Camberwell,_VIC,_AU; 2017-03-21]

More lies about English spelling

It is therefore completely wrong to claim that the English spelling “system became gradually more consistent over a period of several hundred years", as Mark Aronoff and Kristian Berg have done. - English spelling was made, or allowed to become, increasingly less regular over the centuries, and that is why learning to read and write English now takes roughly ten time longer than Finnish or Korean, with their completely regular writing systems.

[StaffRm; Brighton,_UK; 2017-03-20]

False claims about spelling

Proposals for new teaching methods often include dodgy claims about other methods and English spelling, as in http://www.bristol.ac.uk/news/2017/march/beyond-phonics.html. I could not help but respond to seven points in it.

[StaffRm; Brighton,_UK; 2017-03-20]

OK, Okay, Happy 178th Birthday!

This Thursday, March 23, 2017, is the 178th birthday of America’s (and the world’s) greatest word. OK? Yes, OK is the word. And it was born on Page 2 of the Boston Morning Post on Saturday, March 23, 1839.

[The_Chronicle_of_Higher_Education; Washington,_DC,_US; 2017-03-20]

The century of American global domination of language is over, a linguist says

“The American century has happened,” she writes. English has the edge on other languages as a “universal” global language because it’s already widely used—and some burgeoning powers such as India already have their own relationship with the language, and distinctive ways of using it. If English continues to hold the lingua franca status, she writes, the influences that change it “may be coming from other places altogether.”

[Quartz; New_York,_US; 2017-03-13]

Sloppy copy

Samuel Johnson damaged English spelling more than all other meddlers combined. He probably didn't deliberately aim to make learning to read and write English more difficult. He achieved it, by trying to make English spelling more Latin. He still regarded English as an inferior language, despite being very familiar with Shakespeare’s work. He thought it unlikely that English would ever become fit for intellectual discourse. He much preferred Latin for writing poetry.

[StaffRm; Brighton,_UK; 2017-03-13]

Beyond phonics - the case for teaching children the logic of the English spelling system

Why is there the letter 'g' in sign? Why not spell the word 'does' duz?

A recent paper published in the journal Educational Psychology by Professor Jeffrey Bowers from the School of Experimental Psychology at the University of Bristol and his brother, Peter Bowers, based at WordWorks Literacy Centre in Ontario, Canada, argues that phonics is a flawed approach because it mistakenly assumes that the primary purpose of letters is to represent sounds.

[University_of_Bristol; Bristol,_UK; 2017-03-13]

Poor literacy hits health

Medical chief's warning over failing campaigns

[paywall] Scotland’s chief medical officer has warned that campaigns to reverse the country’s poor health record are failing because people in deprived areas do not have the literacy skills to understand them. Catherine Calderwood said that healthcare professionals who relied on traditional methods such as leaflets to get their messages across often failed to communicate with those who needed them most. Dr Calderwood, whose annual report last week called for a survey of the strengths and weaknesses of NHS care across Scotland, said that while in affluent areas simple advice to young mothers was understood within weeks, it took far longer in poorer communities.

[The_Times; London,_UK; 2017-03-11]

Study Reveals the English Language Organized Itself

A paper published in the journal Language uses an examination of English spelling to show that even without regulation the language evolved to be orderly

A Stony Brook University-led study of the history and spelling of English suffixes demonstrates that the spelling of English words is more orderly and self-organized that linguistics have previously thought. The finding, details of which are published in the journal Language, is an indication that the self-organization of English occurred even though the language has never been regulated or governed through the centuries.

[NewsWise; Charlottesville,_VA,_US; 2017-03-10]

5-Year-Old Girl, Youngest to Make National Spelling Bee

Five-year-old Edith Fuller is the youngest person ever to qualify for the Scripps National Spelling Bee

Schoolchildren across the United States have been taking part in local and state spelling competitions. These competitions are called spelling bees. The young competitors spell words that even some adults may never have heard of. More than 280 local winners will earn the right to compete in this year’s Scripps National Spelling Bee. The event will take place from May 28 to June 3 near Washington, D.C., at the National Harbor in Maryland. Most competitors in the National Spelling Bee are between the ages of 12 and 14. But this year, one competitor will be less than half that age -- five-year-old Edith Fuller.

[Voice_of_America; Washington,_DC,_US; 2017-03-09]

As she is spoke

These days the speed of change means that even adult-speak is not constant

From time to time we get flurries of agitation in the letters column of newspapers about poor pronunciation and grammar. These are often directed at television personalities and commercials or our previous prime minister. They also come from parents or grandparents complaining about how young people today are mangling the English language: shower with a "wa" at the end, lots of "likes" in a single sentence and "should of" instead of "should have". Then there’s the misuse of words such as "literally" when "figuratively" is meant. A friend of mine told me recently that she had "literally died from laughing".

[Otago_Daily_Times; Dunedin,_NZ; 2017-03-06]

From bad to much worse

Spellings for the /ee/ sound were made irregular mainly after 1430, when English was re-adopted as the official language of England again.

[StaffRm; Brighton,_UK; 2017-03-06]

Spell Much? Tweets Go After Twump’s Issues With Orthography

In worst possible timing, president’s misspellings of “hereby” sandwich his message about fixing American education

Just when Donald Trump was trying to sound really indignant and presidential about Democrats’ meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin years ago, along comes that pesky word “hereby,” which the president misspelled not once but twice in tweets.

[Huffington_Post; New_York,_US; 2017-03-03]

Sombre thoughts: Orphaning English?

International Mother Language Day (IMLD) is a sombre occasion, eliciting a handshake between what is becoming seasonal patriotism and constantly increasing cosmopolitanism. For Bangladesh, it is extra-special since it falls on a day revered for a denied language from far before. Many other countries forging independence after World War II may also find the celebration to be extraordinary, especially since, under the weight of globalising forces, many languages spoken by either limited or declining populations have been evaporating, or have simply devolved into a lower tier: out of the 7,000 languages on this planet, the UNESCO's Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger identifies 2,473 at risk, placing them in five categories, ranging from the least to the most risks, dubbed "vulnerable"; "definitely", "severely", and "critically" endangered; and those already extinct.

[Financial_Express; Dhaka,_BD; 2017-03-02]

A 10-Year-Old National Spelling Competition In An Unlikely Place

In a country with numerous languages and dialects and a literacy rate below the world average, nearly 200 kids gathered in this auditorium hoping to spell "baculiform." And Ghanaian kids have been doing so for 10 years now.

[10_News; San_Diego,_CA,_US; 2017-02-28]

First silly spelling changes

The monks who devised the first English spelling system in the 7th century had a bit of a problem. – The biblical Latin on which they based it, used the letter v for both the /v/ and the short /u/ sound. This usage continued in English too until the 17th century. The Victorians still used it even in the 19th century, when they wanted to make inscriptions look older, as when restoring Chester Cathedral, in the words ‘vp’ and ‘vnder’.

[StaffRm; Brighton,_UK; 2017-02-27]

Good English spellings

English consonant spellings are mostly good – much better than vowels ones. Except for doubled ones like ‘very – merry’ or ‘arrive – arise’. They are really vowel spellings too, because they are meant to show that a stressed vowel is short (dinner), rather than long (diner): http://improvingenglishspelling.blogspot.co.uk/2010/06/long-and-short-vowels.html. Doubled consonants have the same pronunciation as single ones.

[StaffRm; Brighton,_UK; 2017-02-27]

The English alphabet 'code'

Isn’t a bit odd that in all Anglophone countries, many university teachers and schoolteachers are ignorant inept? Why should that be?

[StaffRm; Brighton,_UK; 2017-02-27]

Bolder than a boulder and other stumps and stones of English orthography

One good thing about English spelling is that, when you look for some oddity in it, you don’t have to search long. So why do we have the letter u in boulder (and of course in Boulder, the name of a town in Colorado)? If my information is reliable, Boulder was called after Boulder Creek. A boulder near a small stream won’t surprise anyone, but the letter u in the word and the place name may, as journalists like to say, raise some eyebrows. Bolder (the comparative degree of bold), oldercolderfolder, and holder do without u, but shoulder, unexpectedly, sides with boulder. American spelling has mold in all its meanings and the verb molder, while the British norm requires ou before l. What is going on here?

[OUP_Blog; Oxford,_UK; 2017-02-22]

Spelling's not for eveyrone, Mr. Precedent

Remembr speling? Neither does our president. In his first tweet as POTUS — posted at 11:57 a.m. on Jan. 21 — @realDonaldTrump tweeted, “I am honered [sic] to serve you, the great American People, as your 45th President of the United States!” (He later deleted the message.)

[Los_Angeles_Times; Los_Angeles,_CA,_US; 2017-02-20]

My New Crush on the Dictionary

I live in the town that was Noah Webster’s birthplace, so perhaps we’re already a little dictionary-happy here. A huge statue of him fronts the downtown Noah Webster branch of the library, and the latest, hippest development in town is called Blue Back Square, in honor of the little blue-back spellers that Webster first published in 1783. Less is known about Charles and George Merriam, whose publishing firm bought the rights to Webster’s dictionary after Webster’s death in 1843, but recent visitors to the company’s Twitter feed have agreed that Merriam makes a delightful baby name.

[The_Chronicle_of_Higher_Education; Washington,_DC,_US; 2017-02-19]

Grammar doc

Dr. Brian Deady is compelled to correct one of medicine’s most commonly misspelled words

Today, I am paired with a young man who seems bright and keen to learn. He has just done a history and physical examination, his first of the day. I hear his presentation, “Alexa P. is a three-year-old girl, brought by her mother with a one-day history of vomiting and diarrhea.” But what I read on the chart is the word written with a double “t” before the “ing”: vomitting.

[The_Globe_And_Mail; Toronto,_ON,_CA; 2017-02-16]

The Trump administration has a spelling problem. But how bad is it really? We investigate

President Trump’s administration has a spelling problem, and it seems to be getting worse. The latest cringe-worthy gaffe, courtesy of the Education Department, was a double whammy: In a tweet Friday, the agency misspelled the name of the late scholar-activist and NAACP co-founder W.E.B. Du Bois. Then it followed up with a correction, with its own glaring error: “Our deepest apologizes for the earlier typo.”

[The_Washington_Post; Washington,_DC,_US; 2017-02-15]

How Can We Take The Trump Administration Seriously When It Can’t Even Spell Good?

You know it’s gotten bad when the dictionary feels the need to weigh in

In January, less than 24 hours after becoming president, Donald Trump sent out a tweet telling the nation he was ready to lead. He seemed to follow a simple checklist: Tell the constituents they’re awesome. Remind them of your job title. Throw in a few words about honor and service. Easy enough. The 18-word tweet dropped just before noon. “I am honered to serve you, the great American People, as your 45th President of the United States!” Trump wrote, deterred neither by auto-correct nor the red line that likely appeared under “honered,” imploring him to take closer look.

[Huffington_Post; New_York,_US; 2017-02-14]

What if the President Couldn’t Read?

A rumor has been circulating about our new president’s level of literacy. First suggested (I think) in a blog post for The Times of Israel, the notion that the president not only doesn’t like to read but cannot read above the fifth-grade level of his campaign rhetoric has made the rounds of Samantha Bee, the Daily Kos and other left-wing opinion makers. I am not here to spread that rumor, but to ask what it might mean for our understanding of both this unusual president’s character and the future of any such administration for the chief executive to be functionally illiterate.

[The_Chronicle_of_Higher_Education; New_York,_US; 2017-02-14]

Americans revolutionised English spelling, but were stopped from going too far

If you get confused about why a common English word is spelt differently – ‘centre’ or ‘center’ – blame the Americans for wanting to be different from their colonial British masters after the 1776 revolution that eventually created the United States. The change in English spelling if [sic] often attributed to Benjamin Franklin – an inventor who described as a ‘Founding Father’ of the US, with his legacy enshrined in the US$100 currency bill and often described as ‘the only president of the United States who was never president of the United States’. His suggestion that English words be spelt the way they are spoken gained much favour in the newly independent nation – but most balked when he proposed to drop some letters like ‘c’, ‘w’, ‘y’ from the alphabet.

[The_Rakyat_Post; Kuala_Lumpur,_MY; 2017-02-14]

WTF? Inauguration Photo Features Embarrassing Trump-Style Misspelling

A challenge “to” great for the Trump administration: spelling

It’s not clear who was responsible for the mistake, and who missed it in proofreading. But Trump has certainly set a tone in his administration as the misspeller in chief. His tweets have been riddled with mistakes, including words like “payed,” big “shoker,” “loose” instead of lose, “big honer,” and “leightweight choker” (referring to Marco Rubio). Possibly everyone’s favorite concerned China’s “unpresidented” seizure in December of a U.S. Navy drone. (It has since been erased from Trump’s site.)

[Huffington_Post; New_York,_US; 2017-02-13]

Forget #alternativefacts — let’s talk about alternative spelling

The quest to Make America Great Again does not include its dictionaries

On Sunday evening, the Library of Congress was forced to pull the $16.95 “Donald Trump Inauguration Print” from its online store after a typo in the pull-quote was widely mocked on social media: “No dream is too big, no challenge is to (sic) great. Nothing we want for the future is beyond our reach.”

[The_Star; Toronto,_ON,_CA; 2017-02-13]

Poor spelling is the latest lightning rod for a divided American public

There’s an unlikely new battlefield in the already divided American public sphere: the defense of proper spelling. The US Department of Education stepped into the minefield this weekend with two typo-ridden tweets, one meant to correct the other.

[Quartz; New_York,_US; 2017-02-12]

A Quarrel Over the Letter ‘K’ Breaks Out in an Unfortunate Place: Kazakhstan

Former Soviet state aspires to ditch its cumbersome 42-letter Cyrillic alphabet in favor of a Latin one—but which letter should represent the nation’s distinctive guttural ‘K’?

[subscription] Almaty, KAZAKHSTAN—Or should that be Almaty, QAZAQSTAN? This Central Asian nation sandwiched between Russia and China is arguing over a surprisingly elemental question: how to spell its name.

[The_Wall_Street_Journal; New_York,_US; 2017-02-10]

New slang: All about the language of ‘The 100,’ from the man who created it

David J. Peterson is the award-winning creator of Dothraki and High Valyrian in “Game of Thrones,” the multiple languages and dialects of “Defiance” and Tarsem Singh’s epic “Emerald City,” and many of the languages of the Marvel cinematic universe

Trigedasleng is the name given to the language that evolved on Earth over about a century and a half from a mix of modern English and a code with mysterious origins. Used exclusively by Trikru at the outset, by the time we meet the Grounders in the show, the language has well outgrown its original circumstances, and become a de facto lingua franca amongst all the Twelve Tribes.

[ScreenerTV; Chicago,_IL,_US; 2017-02-08]

Shoker! Rediculous chocker Trump attaks and dishoners English with ever-dummer spellings

The Trump White House on Monday night, attempting to demonstrate that the media had ignored terrorism, released a list of 78 “underreported” attacks. The list didn’t expose anything new about terrorist attacks, but it did reveal a previously underreported assault by the Trump administration on the conventions of written English. Twenty-seven times, the White House memo misspelled “attacker” or “attackers” as “attaker” or “attakers.” San Bernardino lost its second “r.” “Denmark” became “Denmakr.” [Syndicated to Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise, The Chippewa Herald]

[Washington_Post; Washington,_DC,_US; 2017-02-07]

How Not to Teach Chinese

In a post written during my bewildering one-week visit to Chongqing I mentioned that my traveling companion had taken several courses in Chinese in college, but not one single time did she turn out to be able to read anything in the Chinese script that helped us get around.

[The_Chronicle_of_Higher_Education; Washington,_DC,_US; 2017-02-06]

Classic literary texts beats dumb txts

[paywall] THE criticisms surrounding the Australian Curriculum and Assessment Reporting Authority’s Year 9 literacy test based on a text message employing emojis are well deserved. As argued by the Editorial in yesterday’s Courier-Mail: “If we want to dumb down the next generation this is the right way to go.” In addition to being simplistic and more suited to testing primary school children and not Year 9, the emoji test requires minimal comprehension skills. And the sad reality is that the latest incident is only the tip of the iceberg. In addition to being simplistic and more suited to testing primary school children and not Year 9, the emoji test requires minimal comprehension skills.

[Courier_Mail; Brisbane,_Queensland,_AU; 2017-02-01]

Kenya: Curriculum Does Not Equip Pupils With Skills - Experts

Only 19 per cent of pupils in Class Five in the country can spell the word "cough" while only 31 per cent in the same class can spell the word "umbrella", a conference heard Monday.

[AllAfrica; Washington,_DC,_US; 2017-01-31]

Dear Justine Greening, whatever happened to ‘eradicating illiteracy’?

In 2011 the schools minister trumpeted the benefits of phonics teaching. But a quarter of seven-year-olds’ literacy skills still haven’t made the cut

ack in 2005, the BBC reported David Cameron (you’ll remember him), then shadow education secretary, saying: “The biggest problem facing education today is the fact that one in five 11-year-olds leaves primary school unable to read properly.” Moving forward to 2011, I was at the launch of the Reading Agency’s summer reading challenge, an initiative that encourages children to read books during the summer holidays. One of the speakers was Nick Gibb, then, as now, schools minister. He told us about phonics and said the phonics teaching being rolled out in schools in England would “eradicate illiteracy”.

[The_Guardian; London,_UK; 2017-01-31]

Literacy tests for Year 1s moving closer

Australia's six-year-olds will likely have to show off their counting skills, name shapes and sound out words under a "light touch" test to check their schooling progress

Education Minister Simon Birmingham has appointed a five-person panel to develop the new assessments for Year 1 students. They'll report back to the nation's education ministers in the middle of 2017. Senator Birmingham has been pushing for the skills tests after several studies, including international comparisons, found Australian children were falling behind.

[Education_HQ; Canberra,_AU; 2017-01-30]

How British and American spelling affects the SEO of Australian companies

Do Australians spell more like Brits or Yanks? And why does this matter to your SEO? In this guest post, Matthew Bakmaz explains how to better target your customers through spelling

In one of his career’s most memorable moments, Arnold Schwarzenegger assuaged the fears of a room full of medically astute kindergarten students concerned about his headache by telling them “It’s not a tumor”. While this may have been true for detective John Kimble, it appears that it is not the case for Australians today. Using Hitwise data, we have found that Australians are more likely to use the term ‘tumor’ than they are to use the term ‘tumour’ in their search behaviour.

[Mumbrella; Chippendale,_NSW,_AU; 2017-01-27]

Is English spelling irregular?

I think that English is highly irregular, but when I said so in my first Staffrm piece, John Walker disagreed: “The real problem is training teachers to understand how the English orthographic code is structured conceptually, how the spelling system relates to the sounds of the language ... To the untutored, the English spelling system looks random and chaotic…”

[StaffRm; Brighton,_UK; 2017-01-27]

Should English spelling be modernised?

In my first story ‘A lesson from China’ I mentioned that the adoption of Pinyin had reduced China’s illiteracy rate from 85% to just 5% and suggested that maybe we should also think about using some simpler spellings, like ‘thaut’ and ‘throo’, alongside their tricky traditional versions, to help with learning to read English. – Ten years ago I had done so when helping struggling readers, and it seemed to work well. But then teachers often think that they’ve come up with the best thing since sliced bread….

[StaffRm; Brighton,_UK; 2017-01-27]

A lesson from China

After the recent death of Zhou Youguang, the developer of Pinyin, the alphabetic writing system for teaching to read traditional Chinese characters, several obituaries mentioned how he transformed Chinese literacy levels: before China adopted Pinyin in 1958, its illiteracy rate was 85% - now it's merely 5%. Originally designed for the teaching of reading, Pinyin is now also used for typing on electronic devices and gradually replacing traditional Chinese writing altogether.

[StaffRm; Brighton,_UK; 2017-01-27]

‘But you can’t read’ – English, dyslexia and me

English student Holly Platt-Higgins on why she didn’t read a book cover to cover until the age of 14 and how she discovered literature

As soon as I told family and friends that I was applying to read English at university, I had a stream of concerned comments including ‘but you can’t read’, ‘but you couldn’t spell your own name until you were about 12’, and my sister’s personal favourite, ‘but you’re a leckie-loser’. I suppose I learnt to find the comedy in it – all of these things were true but they didn’t seem to matter. I love my subject, I was determined to study it in the most intense and rewarding environment available to me and, although I can’t spell ‘elixir’ or ‘ephemeral’ or ‘sanguine’, I know what these words mean, I know what they make me feel and on a personal level, and that’s enough. Dyslexia is something other people notice about me – they notice it takes me a long time to read a page and that I haven’t spelt word correctly or that I’ve used a comma in the wrong place – but I don’t. I do not know how not be dyslexic.

[Varsity; Cambridge,_UK; 2017-01-27]

Moving Toward A Better Global Understanding Of Literacy

Make no mistake - raising global literacy levels is a formidable challenge. Today, nearly 17% of the world’s adult population is still not literate. Low literacy and limited language proficiency among parents is the strongest predictor of a child’s ability to thrive academically. With some 775 million adults lacking minimum literacy skills, children are placed in an increasingly untenable position - to act beyond their years and help their families navigate the world. In a year that will continue 2016’s trend of being marked by huge patterns of human migration across the world, the challenge that falls on the shoulders of educationalists is to marry speed and practicality in tackling literacy in a changing world.

[Huffington_Post; UK; 2017-01-26]

Post-Master General blames mass failures in English language on GSM

Mr Adebisi Adegbuyi, Nigeria’s Post-Master General, has blamed the mass failure in English Language, at both local and international examinations, on the advent of mobile communication systems. “ It is worrisome that students cannot spell words correctly; they are more used to short codes and symbols they use in sending Short Message Service (SMS) on their mobile phones,” Adegbuyi said in Jos, on Thursday.

[Vanguard; Apapa_Lagos,_NGA; 2017-01-26]

Spellbound: There’s more to spelling than P’s and Q’s

Ruminations from ‘Elizabeth Snyder, Judge’

Absolute power can be intoxicating. And frightening. As one of the Kenosha Rotary Club volunteers who served as a judge and word pronouncer Monday night at Kenosha Unified School District’s middle school spelling bee, I was told — right there in the official rules — that judges “are in complete control of the competition and their decision is final on all questions.” Luckily, we didn’t have to render any controversial rulings over the more than three hours that students spelled words like pertinacity, castellated, ague and spelt. Yes, spelt. It’s a word; look it up.

[Kenosha_News; Kenosha,_WI,_US; 2017-01-25]

Ar yu awer of the werk of melvil dui?

Mr. Dewey created the Dewey Decimal System for libraries when he was a 21-year-old student at Amherst College in Massachusetts. But another big venture on his part was to simply the spelling of the English language.

[Adirondack_Daily_Enterprise; Saranac_Lake,_NY,_US; 2017-01-21]

Manglish getting more mangled

“Before you cross the strict, use your ase”. Understand that? Not likely, because even Manglish is getting mangled in Malaysia. In case you’re wondering what the sentence means, it was a student wanting to say: “Before you cross the street, use your eyes.” There are other examples. “The school are so many teacher and friend. I can read the book in this school.” “We in deed very conscent of student safety...” and “It is beyond our limit as it held at outside of campus”. The last two were excerpts from a press release from the student representative council of a local university.

[The_Star; Petaling_Jaya,_MY; 2017-01-21]

One country, two systems

The coexistence of pinyin and Chinese characters highlights the role of emotion in language decisions

FEW people live to 111. Fewer still leave as big a mark on linguistic lives as Zhou Youguang, who died on January 14th. Mr Zhou was the chief architect of pinyin, the system that the Chinese use to write Mandarin in the roman alphabet. Pinyin has not, of course, replaced the Chinese characters. Rather, it is used as a gateway to literacy, giving young children a systematic way to learn the sounds of the thousands of characters required to be literate in Chinese. Pinyin is also used by most Chinese people to input Chinese characters into computers: type a word like wo (meaning “I”) and the proper character appears; if several characters share the same sound (which is common in Chinese), users choose from a short menu of these homophonic characters.

[The_Economist; London,_UK; 2017-01-19]

Pinyin: The Story of Zhou Youguang

This is the story of how an “amateur” with courage and passion can change a huge nation and enhance the lives of many millions of ordinary people. Zhou Youguang, father of Pinyin, died last Saturday in Beijing. He was 111 (one hundred and eleven)! Here is his story. We can learn a lot from it.

[TIMnovate; Haifa,_IL; 2017-01-17]

Zhou Youguang, whose Pinyin writing system helped modernize China, dies at 111

Zhou Youguang, a onetime Wall Street banker from China who developed Pinyin, a Romanized writing system that has helped more than 1 billion Chinese and countless foreigners learn Mandarin, died Jan. 14 in Beijing, one day after celebrating his 111th birthday. State-run media outlets in China confirmed his death but did not provide additional details. In addition to his contributions to language, Mr. Zhou also survived three years of exile and forced labor to become one of his country’s most outspoken dissidents. Mr. Zhou’s writing system, formally known as Hanyu Pinyin — or “putting sounds together,” as its name is sometimes translated — had a transformative effect on Chinese society.

[The_Washington_Post; Washington,_DC,_US; 2017-01-16]

China's Zhou Youguang, father of Pinyin writing system, dies aged 111

Chinese linguist Zhou Youguang, who created the writing system that turns Chinese characters into words using letters from the Roman alphabet, has died aged 111

"We spent three years developing Pinyin. People made fun of us, joking that it had taken us a long time to deal with just 26 letters," he told the BBC in 2012. Before Pinyin was developed, 85% of Chinese people could not read, now almost all can.

[BBC; London,_UK; 2017-01-14]

Zhou Youguang, Architect Of A Bridge Between Languages, Dies At 111

Zhou Youguang, the inventor of a system to convert Chinese characters into words with the Roman alphabet, died Saturday at the age of 111. Since his system was introduced nearly six decades ago, few innovations have done more to boost literacy rates in China and bridge the divide between the country and the West.

[National_Public_Radio; Washington,_DC,_US; 2017-01-14]

Being a good speller has its advantages

“Spelling is diffcolt, chalangin, er, hard!” — Anonymous

[limited access] Seemingly there is a reform movement underway to change the English language as we know it and to reform the spelling of difficult English words to be spelled more phonetically. Instead of spelling the word enough as we do there would instead be preferred spellings of something like “enuff.” Where were these people back when most of us spent arduous nights at home learning how to spell words that made absolutely no sense at all in their correct spelling?

[News_and_Tribune; Jeffersonville,_IN,_US; 2017-01-14]

Zhou Youguang, Who Made Writing Chinese as Simple as ABC, Dies at 111

Zhou Youguang, known as the father of Pinyin for creating the system of Romanized Chinese writing that has become the international standard since its introduction some 60 years ago, died on Saturday in Beijing, Chinese state media reported. He was 111.

[The_New_York_Times; New_York,_US; 2017-01-14]

Chinese Linguist Zhou Youguang Dies at 111

Zhou’s Pinyin system of Chinese has virtually become the global standard

[subscription] Zhou Youguang, a linguist considered the father of modern China’s Pinyin Romanization system, died Saturday at the age of 111.

[Wall_Street_Journal; New_York,_US; 2017-01-14]

Sorry Guardian - You Get An F minus for linguistics

The Guardian, or as it is more affectionately known to its readers, The Grauniad, seems to think that it takes a native Russian speaker to write 'f' as 'ph'

Any English person with a good education would, on hearing over the telephone the business name 'Alfa', write it down as 'Alpha'. That is the normal English spelling, not only in England, but in many countries. It is the favoured spelling of 'Alpha and Omega' in the Bible. In the respected opinion of my good friend Google the 'ph' version is more common than the 'f' version.

[Science_2.0; US; 2017-01-13]

Tpyos vs. Mispelings: a Presidential Matter

Today I’m obsessed with the difference between typos and misspellings. Why? Because the storm of tweets sent out by our president-elect reveals an unusual number of orthographic oddities.

[The_Chronicle_of_Higher_Education; Washington,_DC,_US; 2017-01-10]

Do YOU have spelling OCD? Only the most pedantic of English language perfectionists will score full marks on this tricky test

• A new quiz from Playbuzz claims those who score full marks have spelling OCD • Users will be asked to select the correct spelling of a word from 2-3 options • Those who score 13 or above are said to be obsessive when it comes to spelling

We all know someone who is a real stickler for spelling and grammar happy to point out the smallest mistakes to their friends and family. However, this quiz is set to determine those who can spot a misspelled word from those who are obsessive about spelling. Devised by Playbuzz, the latest quiz claims that those who score full marks have 'spelling OCD'.

[Daily_Mail; London,_UK; 2017-01-09]

Urdu orthography: history, reforms and some unresolved issues

URDU orthography, or imla, has long been a bone of contention. And the root cause is the lack of standardisation and unification. For certain words Urdu lacks, let’s face it, orthographic standards that can be agreed upon by all and sundry. As a result one can find common words spelt differently in different publications and it can be confusing and frustrating for students. The main culprits, I am sorry to say, are Urdu newspapers and magazines. The editorial staff of most of the Urdu newspapers and magazines is generally indifferent to key issues relating to language, such as orthography and usage.

[Dawn; Karachi,_PK; 2017-01-09]

Your English Is So Good!

Whenever I declared that I was born in a non-English speaking country and lived there until middle school, I frequently got the response, "But, your English is so good!" As if speaking in English was the only mark of intelligence or education.

[Huffington_Post; CA; 2017-01-09]

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