spelling and other matters

Subject: spelling and other matters
From: "ralph (r.f.) calistro" <calistro -at- BNR -dot- CA>
Date: Thu, 18 Aug 1994 15:28:00 -0400

Charles P. Campbell, PhD, asked on Mon, 15 Aug 1994,
whether spelling was obsolete. There have been
a number of replies to his query. I would like to
add the following comments.

In this discussion there is one aspect of the issue
that has been mentioned only obliquely. This aspect
is the multicultural, multilingual one. There
are many, many people who use English for whom English
is not the first language learned. I am convinced that
teachers are doing a disservice to their students, whether
their first language is English or not, by failing to point
out incorrect variations in spelling.

There are, of course, some correct variations in the
spelling of specific words (for example, neighbor,
neighbour, center, centre), resulting from the
existence of a variety of Englishes (Canadian English,
British English, American English, Australian English,
for example).

In addition, those of us who are working in both of the
official languages of Canada have a difficult enough
time sorting out the spelling of similar words that
occur in English and French (for example, address (E)
and adresse (F), abbreviation (E), abreviation (F, with
an accent over the e).

As for the following comment, made at the end of the original

<This bit of empirical research will hardly pass muster as science,
<of course, but it'll help me decide whether to cane students in the
<editing class who consistently misspell words, or whether to rein-
<force their self-esteem whenever they approximate known words. ;->

I realize that the author was offering this false dilemma in
the spirit of Internet humour, ;->, but it does bring
up the serious problem of how to correct the errors of others
in a way that those who make the errors will be positively
reinforced and learn from their mistakes. As some have already
noted, it may help to change the colour of the ink.

A while ago, when I was teaching a philosophy course part time
at the secondary school level, I decided to make all comments
of essays in green. I had hoped that the green ink would
attenuate the extensive comments that I would usually make on the
papers. Green was also one of the school colours, and I
assumed that there would be a positive identification between
the school colour and the green ink.

Ralph F. Calistro, Ph.D.
Northern Telecom
Ottawa, Canada
calistro -at- bnr -dot- ca

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