WORDS, WORDS, WORDS....

WHO WILL DEFEND THE WAY ENGLISH IS SPELLED?

Anatoly Liberman really hates the way we spell. If he had it his way, no man would be an iland and Dan Harmon would have created a TV show called Kommunity.  A long time advocate of spelling reform, he is working to make modern dictionaries irrelevant, a certain William Finn musical obsolete, and rob me of one of my few sources of pride. I wouldn't say I'd ever win a championship, but I enjoy a certain amount of pleasure when my pesky American spell check only flags honour, labour, and defenceless.

Out of principle, I refuse to use AutoCorrect and it's not just because it tends to make changes in comical / embarrassing ways. Words are a writer's bread and butter. Not knowing how to use them is like a baker, well, not knowing anything about what goes into bread (I'll forgive them if they're ignorant about butter). I don't memorize the dictionary, but I do have a knack for remembering how to spell Massachusetts, and I'll admit to being a little annoyed when I hear about people trying to take that away.

Part of it has to do with the sensation that they're changing the rules in the middle of the game. Yes, yes, language is always evolving and we're no longer supposed to spell internet with a capital I.  But convincing the fine people in New England to change their signs so they read "Wellkum to Massachewsits" seems to be taking things a bit too far.

It may be that the rules are absurd - and I agree, that when it comes to words like neighbor and fuchsia they are - but so are some of the rules of baseball. I'm not sure if language should be like the Republican National Convention, where the rules can change every four years. There's a very real financial cost to altering the spelling of things (think of New England and its signs), not to mention the fact that encased in every crazy spelling is some rich historical fact. At some point, we might just have to accept we're too far into the game to change things now.

We seem to be in dire need of a hero to champion the written word. Remember, all those plays from Ancient Greece are thousands of years old, but conversations Euripides had with his actors have been lost forever. Isn't it enough that the short story is dead and, according to futurologists, text is on its way out? How long does the written language have to bow down to the spoken one before we say enough is enough?

Anatoly Liberman would like us to spell words the way they sound - who wants to start a movement suggesting we start to say words the way they're spelled?