RE: Common Errors in English

Subject: RE: Common Errors in English
From: Rose -dot- Wilcox -at- aps -dot- com
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com
Date: Wed, 25 Feb 2004 11:16:12 -0700

Bruce Byfield writes:
Every now and then, I've come across a book that deliberately uses
non-standardized spelling, like Russell Hoban's Ridley Walker, or Avram
Davidson's Limekiller stories, which phonetically reproduce the speech
patterns of Belize. When I first start to read these works, my reading
speed goes way down. However, after about ten pages, I find that I'm
reading at more or less my normal rate. I don't know if I'm typical, of
course, but, from my experience, I don't think that standardized
spelling makes that much difference.

Even so, the spelling is consistent within the text (presumably), so
that is why you gain speed after several pages. The same would apply to
technical manuals, which would tend to argue that internal consistency
is more important than matching external standards. Particularly I
would speculate that this would apply to industries where there were
competing standards or none at all....
Also, if reading is difficult with non-standardized spelling, wouldn't
writing be as well? Yet Shakespeare, Jonson, and dozens of other
writers were prolific by any standards.
I'm not sure this would follow because I'm not sure writing = reading as
a cognitive activity. A person can compose in shorthand, for instance,
rather than using regular language. However, without standardized
spelling the editor's job would be lighter, I would guess. :-)

<<Don't mistake me: I think that standardized spelling does convey some
advantage, but I also suspect that it's smaller than we usually assume.
Moreover, the reason for standardization may have less to do with
convenience that with a wish for order and science.
I would agree with both of these suspicions.
Rose A. Wilcox
Center for Process Excellence
Rose -dot- Wilcox -at- aps -dot- com
"Take care that you never spell a word wrong. Always before you write a
word, consider how it is spelled, and, if you do not remember, turn to a
dictionary. It produces great praise to a lady to spell well."
Thomas Jefferson to his daughter Martha

"MMS <>" made the following annotations.
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