I recently read an article entitled “Internet Spells the End of English” http://bit.ly/6khLsu
Given that title, I assumed that the article would rail about how texting, phonetic spellings and the like were destroying English communication.
Instead, the headline writer had cleverly (if obtusely) hinted at the real topic of the article: how the Internet is changing the spelling of English words.
The article describes the views of David Crystal of the University of Wales who thinks that traditional spelling could be killed off by the Internet within a few decades, and could be replaced by phonetic spelling and Internet slang (e.g., “thx” for “thanks”). What’s more, he thinks that these “new” spellings could enter mainstream publications.
Why? Crystal points out that English spelling was not standardized until the 18th century, and that the majority of spelling rules are irrelevant, with no relationship to meaning or pronunciation.
As a compulsive proofreader, I find it hard to accept “2moro” for “tomorrow,” even though the meaning is clear. But logically, I think he is correct. I remember discussions in English class about the importance of a language changing and evolving. After all, that is the distinction between a “living language” like English, and a “dead one” like Latin.
And two comforting thoughts for me. First, Crystal does not think that all spelling conventions will disappear, just that some new rules will replace the old.
And second, Crystal does not think schools should stop teaching traditional spelling. ”…(I)n this day and age, standard English spelling is an absolute criterion of an educated background,” he said.
I agree. Do you?
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