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TGIF: Ed Rondthaler on the nonsense of English spelling June 25, 2010

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Fun stuff, TGIF.

English spelling is a vexing problem for most learners of English. Why does the English language have so many words that are difficult to spell? The main reason is that English has 1,100 different ways to spell its 44 separate sounds, more than any other language. This video, which I discovered thanks to one of the folks I follow on Twitter, features typographist, spelling champion, and chairman of the American Literacy Council Dr. Ed Rondthaler pointing out the nonsense of English spelling. Enjoy!



1. Janis Abens - June 28, 2010

this is a subject that I have been pondering for many years.As for myself, I have been reading since I was three years old. Although my parents and grandmother meant well, being precocious and adept in school at an early age only taught me to be lazy. I was a spelling bee champion and got only the highest scores on those standardized Iowa tests.
When I left the United States and move to Europe in my late teens, I began to notice how much trouble people had with English, especially spelling. Still later, when teaching my own children to speak English while growing up in Sweden, it became outrageously apparent how stupid this language is.
Somewhere along the line, I began to use a dictation program instead of typing, due to repetitive stress disorder. Although the program will not actually misspell any words, the number of various homonyms makes dictating your texts a nightmare, as the program often makes incorrect choices and proofreading is just as troublesome as if you have typed it yourself. Actually, it’s worse, because spell checkers will not help.

Anyway, I discovered that I was not the first person to think that English phonetics and spelling were amazingly stupid, and although I’m not an expert or an enthusiast, I was still dismayed to find out that Benjamin Franklin was of like mind on this issue. He even had the audacity and wherewithal to create an alternative, phonetically unambiguous phonetic system.
For me, it was a slap in the face. If Benjamin Franklin, one of the most respected thinkers and scientists in history, was unable to convince anyone of the advantages of his system, what chance do I have? And, as I have no problems with English spelling, my tenacity waned with the years. I’m glad to see that this does not apply to everyone.
Kudos to Ed and everyone else who gives a hoot.

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