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<Proofreader>
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Huffington Post ran these pictures from folks espousing English as the only language to use in America.
 
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Frightening.

Are the words "your" and "you're" the most commonly confused in English? Or does that award go to its/it's?


Richard English
 
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These people are talking about speaking English. Writing English is a very different skill.
 
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Yes, but. In the U.S. we pay dearly for public education. Almost everyone should be able to learn how to speak and write. I can't discount this based on writing being a different skill.
 
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Almost everyone should be able to learn how to speak and write. I can't discount this based on writing being a different skill.

Yes, I don't think Goofy was valuing one skill above the other; he was just saying they are very different skills. Speaking is pretty much something one learns to do before going to school, but writing is something one learns after the fact. They are pretty much two different registers.


Ceci n'est pas un seing.
 
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Where are the signs? All I find at that link are advertisements.


It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society. -J. Krishnamurti
 
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quote:
Originally posted by Kalleh:
Yes, but. In the U.S. we pay dearly for public education. Almost everyone should be able to learn how to speak and write. I can't discount this based on writing being a different skill.


The speak English people are being mocked because they make some spelling errors. But speaking and writing are two very different things. I'm sure these people can speak English as well as anyone else. To mock them for making spelling mistakes is to miss the point imo.
 
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If your righting abowt a lanaguage like
English, I wood hope yu spelcheked befour going out with the sings.
 
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quote:
Originally posted by Proofreader:
If your righting abowt a lanaguage like
English, I wood hope yu spelcheked befour going out with the sings.


These "speak English" signs are "ironic" apparently because you need to have a perfect command of spelling before you are allowed to talk about language policy. This is an unfair criticism imo.

This message has been edited. Last edited by: goofy,
 
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Goofy, maybe you have to be American to see the irony of this. These tea partiers are holier than thou loudmouths who apparently think those who weren't born here are beneath them. They are the prescriptivists who throw Strunk and White in your face. Teaching is memorizing and learning the rules...certainly not teaching kids how to think critically. That's why it's hilariously ironic to me.

I acknowledge that I am biased on this issue of tea partiers.

Geoff, try this link. Then go down to Ironic "Speak English" Signs and click the arrows at the top. You should see them. There is one I don't get; the one about the US Constitution. Am I missing something? I am not a great editor myself!
 
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The one about the Constitution is on a sign for "Casa D' Cee" and their website is "Casadice.com", a Spanish usage. So English is good enough for everything except their business name.

Kalleh is correct about the ironic usage by Tea Party members. It's like the minister who preaches about the dangers of sex while going out at night to gay bars.
 
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I am familiar with the Tea Party people and their politics, but I had no idea they all had a stance on correct English usage.
 
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Not "correct English usage" but "English as the official language".
 
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quote:
Originally posted by Proofreader:
Not "correct English usage" but "English as the official language".


Ok, but see, your ability to spell is irrelevant to your opinions about language policy.
 
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Apparently the most vociferous advocates are also those who possess the least English skills.
 
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Originally posted by Proofreader:
Apparently the most vociferous advocates are also those who possess the least English skills.


The least English spelling skills. I'm sure they can speak English as well as anyone else. And what does their spelling or their sign-making abilities have to do with the value of their opinions on language policy? These things are not connected. I could have really interesting opinions about language policy and be a bad speller or a bad signmaker, just like I could be a brilliant novelist and a bad speller.

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Regardless as to whether people consider spelling to be a part of language (I do), I began to wonder if I am correct. That is, are tea partiers prescriptivists? I have always thought that, but when looking for evidence online, I couldn't find much to support it. I did find this article about the libertarian position. It is a hugely conservative blog apparently, and I found other posts there that sounded Strunk and Whitish. So, I am thinking I am correct.
 
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I suspect that prescriptivism and descriptivism don't match up with particular political viewpoints, but I don't know for sure.

quote:
Originally posted by Kalleh:
Regardless as to whether people consider spelling to be a part of language (I do)


I would say that spelling is part of language.
 
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The mis-spellings are the result of an ignorant class seizing on a complex issue and botching their message in an ironic manner.
 
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I would say that spelling is part of language.

So, you are saying spelling is a part of language, but not a part of grammar, is that it? I'd agree on that.

I also think you are probably right that politics is not related to whether or not an individual is a prescriptivist or descriptivist. Another assumption foiled!
 
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quote:
Originally posted by Kalleh:
So, you are saying spelling is a part of language, but not a part of grammar, is that it?


Maybe? I'm not sure what this has to do with what we're talking about. I asked what I thought was a good question:

quote:
Originally posted by goofy:
what does their spelling or their sign-making abilities have to do with the value of their opinions on language policy?


For those of you who think these signs are ironic, you must think these are connected in some way. So how are they connected?
 
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For those of you who think these signs are ironic, you must think these are connected in some way. So how are they connected?


They all want English as the official language of the US. Duh!
 
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That doesn't answer my question "what does one's spelling ability have to do with the value of one's opinions on language policy?"
 
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It certainly doesn''t offer possible adherents to your philosophy an essence of validity.
 
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Maybe? I'm not sure what this has to do with what we're talking about. I asked what I thought was a good question:
So, you would isolate language from language policy? I would not. I certainly think language and policies on language are intimately related, and that's why I see it as ironic. If you don't, so be it. But I'd hardly think this is a "right" or "wrong" question.
 
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Originally posted by goofy:
That doesn't answer my question "what does one's spelling ability have to do with the value of one's opinions on language policy?"

Nothing. People are entitled to their opinions and to express them in writing, misspellings and all.

It is perceived as ironic because the people who believe in an English-only policy do not have perfect command of all aspects of English (in this case,spelling). Of course, none of us do. But we still have the right to express our opinions. My opinion is that you can speak any damn language you please. It would be advantageous to learn to understand and speak the predominant language of the country you live in. But, as anyone who has traveled to a non-English-speaking country can attest, it's easier said than done. Most people who travel to France, Germany, or Japan will find themselves illiterate in that country's language. They may be able to recognize a few words or signs, but they won't be able to read or write the language.

I believe it was Voltaire who said, "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it, even if you misspell it."

Okay, I added that last part. And Voltaire didn't say it. Evelyn Beatrice Hall, writing under the pseudonym S. G. Tallentyre, wrote The Friends of Voltaire (1906), in which she said (p. 199)

quote:
' I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it,' was his [Voltaire's] attitude now.'
 
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Originally posted by Kalleh:
So, you would isolate language from language policy?


No. But in my opinion your spelling ability is irrelevant to your opinions about anything (except maybe spelling). Some people can remember how to spell, and some people can't, that's all.

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So hoo decidee if’n I speekee engrish gude enuf or no?

These people are spelling in English. I can see goofy’s point that speaking and writing are two different things, but would you say that these people can write in English? Do you need to spell words correctly in order to say that you can write in English?

Similarly with speaking. Does speaking in broken English constitute not speaking well enough? How extensive of a vocabulary must one have? Many immigrants often know at least a few words to get by. Does one have to be able to both read and write in the English language if it is the “national language”? How do you decide where to draw the line if someone from another country has a different language as their primary language? I know there are words you folks discuss on this web page that I had never heard of and had no clue what they meant. Should I know those words if I am to live in this country?

I have heard some of the people that are insisting that English be legislated as the official language of the United States (on talk shows for instance). I also understand their frustration sometimes when they are trying to do business with someone whose primary language is another language, and they can’t get their business taken care of because of it. But I definitely see the irony in some of them not being able to get it right on a sign. When speaking casually around a water cooler or writing an informal post on a web site, I can understand mispronunciation of words or typos (respectively). But I would hope that if language is your arguing point and you are making signs, you would look up words or get some help, so you don’t look quite so silly.

As to the question: "what does one's spelling ability have to do with the value of one's opinions on language policy?"

My best answer would be that if a lot of people look at their signs, see an irony, and laugh, their (the sign maker’s) opinion is devalued; at least to the people who see an irony in it. Their supporters may disagree, but it is not the people that already agree with them that they need to convince.

(By the way, I meant no harm in my broken-English example. It was to make a point only).
 
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quote:
Originally posted by Tom:
These people are spelling in English. I can see goofy’s point that speaking and writing are two different things, but would you say that these people can write in English? Do you need to spell words correctly in order to say that you can write in English?


I'd say no, because there are good English writers who can't spell. English spelling is just memorization, and some people are better at it than others.

Anyway, you ask some good questions.
 
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Good English writers who can't spell usually have an editor to fix whatever they mess up before they present their ideas to the public. In the case of the sign-writers, they may have good intentions but they obviously didn't see the need, or don't have the intelligence, to ask for someone competent to spell check their sign before making fools out of themselves.
 
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We've argued this a bunch of times here, but here goes again. Some of spelling is memorization, but a lot of it has to do with an understanding of the English language. That's why those who enter spelling bees learn about the etymology of words; they couldn't possibly remember the spelling of every single word.

While I respect all of your opinions on this, I hope mine is respected as well. After all, I am not alone in my thinking about this.

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Originally posted by Proofreader:
Good English writers who can't spell usually have an editor to fix whatever they mess up before they present their ideas to the public. In the case of the sign-writers, they may have good intentions but they obviously didn't see the need, or don't have the intelligence, to ask for someone competent to spell check their sign before making fools out of themselves.


Sure. But I don't think they deserve special condemnation - that is, their sin of misspelling isn't worse than any other misspelling just because they're talking about language policy.

quote:
Originally posted by Kalleh:
We've argued this a bunch of times here, but here goes again. Some of spelling is memorization, but a lot of it has to do with an understanding of the English language. That's why those who enter spelling bees learn about the etymology of words; they couldn't possibly remember the spelling of every single word.

While I respect all of your opinions on this, I hope mine is respected as well. After all, I am not alone in my thinking about this.


That's really interesting. I hope I've never said anything that suggests I don't respect your opinion. I never meant to imply that English spelling is nothing but rote memorization of lists of words. Knowledge of English etymology, and rules about morphology and phonology can help - but it seems to me that this is all memorization of a sort. The paper talks about heightening students' awareness of spelling patterns. This is certainly easier than rote memorization, but it is still memorization.

Anyway, whatever we call it, isn't it true that some people are better at it than others? Maybe it's just because the bad spellers simply haven't been instructed properly.

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Interestingly just tonight I watched "Akeela and the Bee," which, while just a movie, does stress how these kids learned the spelling of words by knowing their etymology.

I enjoyed this in that paper:
quote:
Don’t students learn to spell through flashcards and writing words?
Traditionally, teachers believed that writing words on flashcards and exposing them to students many times or having students write words 5 to 10 times would improve the students’ spelling skills. Although such methods of instruction may not hurt children, their effectiveness is not well established.
So often in teaching we do things simply because we always have, but not studying to see if it's really effective. And I say this from personal experience in nursing education.

One disclaimer: I just found this paper online. It seemed scholarly to me, though this is not my field so I don't know the quality of the studies and literature that they cite.
 
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I watched that movie years ago and I really enjoyed it. Your link was to a Wikipedia article and I didn't find that quote anywhere in there. I did, however, find it on page 7 here, and on page 8, here.
 
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Tinman, I was not being clear. My quote was from the earlier link I'd posted (same as yours), not from Akeela and the Bee.
 
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The scholarly paper was a good cite, Kalleh. Before I got to that, I was reading another one, "How Spelling Supports Reading--
And Why It Is More Regular and Predictable Than You May Think" by Moats, who turns out to be one of the authors cited in the paper you read.

Anecdotally speaking, the only truly poor spellers I have known were all dyslexics (It runs on my paternal side), who evidence impaired phonological process (mapping sounds to letter sequences-- the difficulty shows up in the brain). My dad's spelling was full of letter-reversals and showed no understanding of phonemes. One of my brothers did not acquire the ability to read fluently until adulthood; he has no TV & says he has to read daily to retain his reading 'muscle'. My younger sister learned to deal w/it & went on to teach special education; she tells me one thing she truly cannot do is proofread: to her, the letters p, b, d, and q all look alike. Interestingly dyslexic family members share a rapid, consonant-mushing lingo that suggests some auditory difference.
 
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An irony concerning Proofreader's original post just hit me: All those famous English speaking wags and wits at the Algonquin Hotel! Not a one spoke Algonquin. http://www.pbs.org/wnet/americ...t-the-algonquin/527/

B35, your last sentence sems to suport the idea I mentioned in another thread that mondegreens might have produced some language change. You've added another dimension to the idea.


It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society. -J. Krishnamurti
 
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Very interesting, Bethree. Has that rapid, consonant-mushing lingo been documented somewhere, I wonder?

Geoff, could you please link to that other thread?
 
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Oh where to start?

First, I with Goofy. Supporting the speaking of English in the US has nothing to do with misspellings and typos. I'm a spelling reform backer. I hav written altho, tho, thru, thoro, stedfast, and so forth before I left high school ... which was many years ago. Does this mean that I'm not qualified to speak on language policy?

Next, this is a typical HuffPo ad hominem hit piece. But then, I expect nothing less on HuffPo. It's a liberal blog that pretends to be a journalist site but doesn't even rise to level of yellow journalism. If you keep that in mind, then that helps to filter thru anything that shows up there. (There's my ad hominem on HuffPo).

In the wonted HuffPo way, the writ tries to broad stroke the tea partiers by showing a few misspell'd words. I could easily do the same thing from all the stupid signs that were sent around from the "occupiers" by the right wing. Regardless of what one thinks of it or them, do a few dummies and a ne'er-do-wells invalidate the whole "occupy" movement? ... Those who liv in glass houses shouldn't throw stones.

One can also argue that these misspelling truly support the English firsters! After all, if more of the education dollars were used for teaching spelling insted of bi-lingualism, then maybe there would be fewer misspellings.

The only "irony" I see on that the "10 Ironic 'Speak English' Signs" has a URL with "13-ironic-speak-english-signs" ... Did they lose three along the way?


freespeller
 
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quote:
I never meant to imply that English spelling is nothing but rote memorization of lists of words. Knowledge of English etymology, and rules about morphology and phonology can help - but it seems to me that this is all memorization of a sort. The paper talks about heightening students' awareness of spelling patterns. This is certainly easier than rote memorization, but it is still memorization.

Anyway, whatever we call it, isn't it true that some people are better at it than others? Maybe it's just because the bad spellers simply haven't been instructed properly.


@Goofy ... It's not a failure of the schools nor of the the teachers. They're working with a crazy patchwork way of spelling. Too much of English spelling is rooted on memorization either straightforwardly of the word itself or the sundry etyms. While some 85% of English spelling more or less fits the "rules", that still leaves a lot of outliers. If one only has a 20,000 word wordstock, then that still leaves 3,000 words that don't follow the patterns.

Though the rough cough and hiccough plough me through,
O'er life's dark lough I ought my way pursue.

— 1842, Horace Mann, first Commissioner of Education of Massachusetts/ He publish'd this to show the problems of spellings the -ough sounds in English.

By changing the way of saying the eight "-ough" words noting their own analogies, the couplet can be said in 8 to the 8th power (16,777,216) ways! … Only ONE of which is right!

I can go on and on about this. I'v spent a lot of time over the years fixing folk's spellings in reports and trying to help foreigners cope with it while learning English. English spelling is NOT a token of intelligence or literacy but only a token of a willingness to waste time that could be better spent lerning or doing sumthing more fremful (effectiv, useful). We can't make English perfectly fonetic, but there is still a lot of room for bettering it.


freespeller
 
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In A History of English Spelling by Upward and Davison, they mention a study that found that English spelling was 84% regular, and only 3% of words were so irregular and unpredictable that they had to be individually learned.
 
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I know we've talked about the complexity of English here before and have come to consensus that it is not any more complicated than other languages. However, yesterday my cab driver was telling me that of the languages he knows, English is the most complicated. From what I remember, the languages he speaks include Russian (native), Spanish (classic), Portuguese, Polish, Bulgarian, French, German and English. I know...he is only an n of one.
 
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"It's a damn poor mind that can think of only one way to spell a word."

Andrew Jackson
 
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Wasn't that Shakespeare? Wink


Build a man a fire and he's warm for a day. Set a man on fire and he's warm for the rest of his life.
 
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Here in the US, we like to generally steal the quotes from the English and just pin them on someone from here. Often a president, if we can't think of anyone else.
 
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quote:
"It's a damn poor mind that can think of only one way to spell a word."

Everywhere I look, arnie, I see that it's from Andrew Jackson. But then I haven't found the original quote, which of course is essential so I am not sure.

I did find this quote from Mark Twain about spelling: "I don't give a damn for a man that can only spell a word one way." It's very similar.

I never trust quotes unless I find the real thing.
 
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That was a joke: a) most quotes are attributed to Shakespeare at some stage, and b) he would famously spell his own name umpteen different ways.


Build a man a fire and he's warm for a day. Set a man on fire and he's warm for the rest of his life.
 
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If we're working on that principal then it was probably Churchill.
 
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quote:
If we're working on that principal then it was probably Churchill.

Yup, he's another suspect. As is Mark Twain. Or the bible, or ...


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quote:
Originally posted by arnie:
That was a joke: a) most quotes are attributed to Shakespeare at some stage, and b) he would famously spell his own name umpteen different ways.


I thought it was a joke, but not for the reasons mentioned, but mainly because of he smiley-winky face.

Honestly, I thought of not putting Andrew Jackson as the definitive quote, especially with this crowd. However, it is who I have seen it attributed to the most. I had also thought that I had heard it was a Mark Twain saying (I think I had heard Kalleh's quote before and I even think I had heard of it being by A. Lincoln.) It sounds like something Mark Twain would say to me.
 
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