“My spelling is Wobbly. It’s good spelling but it Wobbles, and the letters get in the wrong places” ~ A. A. Milne
Spelling and grammar.
They are two of the things that I have always been particular about. It really isn’t hard. There’s a right way to spell a word and, in most cases, every other way is wrong. It bugs me that kids these days can’t spell the simplest of words, or use the simplest grammar correctly.
James and Charlyse came home yesterday with their first homework assignment for Year 2. You guessed it – it was spelling. A list of words that needed to be recited, covered, and written down. Charlyse was a natural, it seems to come easily to her. Plus, her enthusiasm goes a long way. James, on the other hand, finds it a bit of a struggle, but he’s slowly getting it (with a little help from his sister).
Now, most of you wouldn’t know (or even care) that I was school spelling champion. I prided myself on knowing how to spell practically any word correctly. And I never had to work at it – I just knew how to. Call it photographic memory, call me a geek, but it’s something I have always been quite proud of.
The thing that bugs me is that there is very little importance placed on spelling, or even grammar, these days. Whereas it was drummed into us throughout primary school, and even high school, it seems to have gone by the wayside with the younger generations. Suddenly, words such as too, to, and two are interchangeable. So too are their, there, and they’re, and where, wear, and we’re. All words which sound the same, but have completely different meanings and uses. Even my computer’s spell check can’t spell correctly. Analyse becomes analyze. Personalise becomes personalize. Colour becomes color, and favour becomes favor. If our computers can’t even get it right, then what hope do we have if the need arises to do it by ourselves?
And don’t get me started on punctuation! And yes, I deliberately started my sentence with an “and”, since that doesn’t seem to be a grammatical crime these days.
While we’re at it, are comparatives and superlatives not even taught in school these days? How many people know the definition of the two words? Think prettier and prettiest, or more beautiful and most beautiful.
In this day and age, kids and adults who are capable of spelling seem to be a rarity. Just look at text messages. It’s okay to write like that on a quick text message, but that same “text speak” style seems to have become part of the “norm” in regular communication. When did “the” become “d” and “and” became “nd“? Why do we feel the need to drop the letters, when it barely makes things easier to type and harder to understand? A couple of weeks ago, we received a letter from a lawyer. Not only was his spelling atrocious, but so too was his grammar. The letter was barely legible. And this was from a lawyer! Do we place the blame on the current curriculum (and not the teachers, because they are just teaching the curriculum that has been set down), or on the parents, for not knowing how to spell themselves? I know there are more important things in the world to worry about, but surely preserving our language is something we should all have a vested interest in, and prevent it from being butchered more than it already has?
So you can imagine that when the kids brought home their spelling lists yesterday, I sat them down and made sure to drum those words into their heads. I made them recite and copy not just once, but four times. This is how we were taught “back in my day”, and we were taught the same way with our times tables. They were drummed into our heads, so we wouldn’t forget them in a hurry. My children may roll their eyes when I make them do it more than once, but at least I know I have tried my hardest to ensure my children speak and write their native language both correctly and with pride.
And here’s a nice one on English spelling – attributed to Oscar Wilde
If GH can stand for P as in Hiccough
If OUGH stands for O as in Dough
If PHTH stands for T as in Phthisis
If EIGH stands for A as in Neighbor
If TTE stands for T as in Gazette
If EAU stands for O as in Plateau
The right way to spell POTATO should be: GHOUGHPHTHEIGHTTEEAU!
What do you have to say of the English spelling?