9 February 2015

Reading, writing and phonetics

Apparently the UK's school kids are having trouble writing the English Language, especially words with silent letters. If you click that link you'll see they also seem to be having trouble with 'Millennuim' too(!). Another recent report announced that they are will now expected to know their times tables all the way up to 12, be able to read a novel and write a short story of their own, all before they go to big school, or whatever it's called these days, at age 11.
Whaaaat?! When did the standards drop?! All of this was normal practice when I was at school. When did all of this cease to be important?
It has been suggested without much real thought* that words with silent letters within them such as column, lamb, subtle, echo and knight ought to be be re-spelled with the offending letters removed.
Unlike many other languages around the world, the English language is not phonetic** – you have only to look at our six different sounds for 'ough'; as in tuff, coff, thru, plow, tho and awt. 
Your Beautiful (Mistake), London N16
Languages evolve and adapt. In a 1934 novel by Evelyn Waugh he uses 'yoghourt' and 'Pekingese' both of which have since been shortened. 
These days, "your" (as in an item that belongs to you) is being mis-used to replace "you're" (you are)". I am also seeing "to" instead of "too", and "no" rather than "know". Hence we end up seeing things such as "you no your to lazy to spell". But it can't just be sheer laziness – it's easy to omit the apostrophe or the 'e', but not both. It's a lack of grammatical understanding.
And what about the disease that's making people replace "would have" with "would of"?! I believe it comes from people hearing "would've" and then writing what they think hear. I am saddened when I see people over 50 making this written error.

Let's return to the five words I chose above – if we remove the silent letters, the first two words, colum and lam, adapt quite well but the other three words create some problems; sutle rhymes with tootle, eco is short for ecological and night would need to be further shortened or completely re-spelled as nite.
Are you keeping up here?
It's a three-stage process. UK school children, having wasted years of their pre-school life being told that a train is a choo-choo and a cow is moo-moo, will then learn phonetic spellings and subsequently learn how to spell them correctly. Judging by the mistakes already being made with 'no', your' and 'of', as illustrated above, I fail to see how this will achieve anything other than a further dumbing-down.
Taking the phoenetic element a step further, it occurred to me that the people in charge of all this are going to be extremely busy covering all the various UK dialects. 
Here's how it might affect some areas if London:  
Lester, Grovener, Grenidge, Burra, Lincun, Willsdun, Bloomsbree and Gloster
See the etymology of London Borough names here

Afterthoughts
*as in the case of the SNP not having a decent plan for the currency should Scotland have become independent last year
**I thought Phonetix might have been an Asterix character. But he's not – here are all the characters.

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