[Spellyans] Variant Spellings

Deryck Botterill pyran at tiscali.co.uk
Thu Aug 7 21:03:08 IST 2008

I think "same" is a reference to the following article in today's Times


 From The Times -August 7, 2008

  ‘I’ before ‘e’ except after ‘c’. Or maybe not

    Time to give up on spelling, says academic

Alexandra Frean, Education Editor

For those who have always struggled to remember the exceptions to the 
“i” before “e” spelling rule: don’t bother.

One university lecturer has become so fed up with correcting his 
students’ atrocious spelling that he has launched a crusade for the most 
common “variant spellings” - otherwise known as spelling mistakes - to 
be fully accepted into common usage.

Instead of complaining about the state of education as he corrects the 
same spelling mistakes in undergraduate essays year after year, Ken 
Smith, a criminologist at Bucks New University, has a much simpler 

“Either we go on beating ourselves and our students up over this 
problem, or we simply give everyone a break and accept these variant 
spellings as such,” he suggests today in an article in The Times Higher 
Education Supplement.

Seeing that the spelling of the word “judgement”, for example, is now 
widely accepted as a variant of “judgment”, why can’t “truely” also be 
accepted as a variant spelling of “truly”? Dr Smith asks. “I am not 
asking [people] to learn to spell these words differently. All I am 
suggesting is that we might well put 20 or so of the most commonly 
misspelt words in the English language on the same footing as those 
other words that have a widely accepted variant spelling.”

As a starting point he suggests the ten words most commonly misspelt by 
his students (see panel). To these he would also add the word “misspelt” 
itself and all those that break the “i” before “e” rule (weird, seize, 
leisure, neighbour, foreign).

Dr Smith’s suggestion was warmly welcomed yesterday by Jack Bovill, 
chairman of the Spelling Society, which has advocated a simplified, more 
phonetic, approach to spelling since 1908.

Given that English often spells identical sounds in several ways, it is 
little wonder that English-speaking adults always come near the bottom 
in international studies on literacy, he says.

The ee-sound, for example can be spelt as in: seem, team, convene, 
sardine, protein, fiend, people, he, key, ski, debris and quay. Yet 
there are no rules for deciding when to use which, so why not just spell 
the ee-sound simply as “ee”? To ease the switch from current spelling to 
a more phonetic system, the Spelling Society advocates a period of 
transition in which traditional and new forms are used together.

Others are less keen. John Simpson, the chief editor of the Oxford 
English Dictionary, believes that Dr Smith is fighting a losing battle.

“There are enormous advantages in having a coherent system of spelling. 
It makes it easier to communicate. Maybe during a learning phase there 
is some scope for error, but I would hope that by the time people get to 
university they have learnt to spell,” he said.

He accepts, however, that some spellings do change over time. “Fifty 
years ago ‘alright’ was one word and now it is two,” he said.

_*As spelt by Dr Smith* _

*Arguement for argument*

Why drop the “e” in argument (and judgment) but not management?

*Ignor for ignore*

Ignore comes from the Latin ignorare, meaning “to know”, and ignarus, 
meaning “ignorant”. Neither of these words has an “e” after the “r”, so 
why do we?

*Occured for occurred *

There is no second “r” in the words “occur” or “occurs” and that is why 
nearly everyone misspells this word

*Opertunity for opportunity *

In Latin this word refers to the timely arrival at a harbour - Latin 
portus. But the Latin spelling is obportus, not opportus, so, if we were 
being consistent, we should spell “opportunity” as “obportunity”

*Que for queue, or better yet cue or even kew *

Where did we get the second “ue” in the word “queue” and why do we need it?

*Speach for speech *

We spell “speak” with an “ea”. We do not have to but we do. Since we do, 
let us then spell “speech” with an “a” too

*Thier for their*

(or better still, why not just drop the word their altogether in favour 
of there?) It does not make any difference to the meaning of a sentence 
if you spell “their” as “thier” or “there”, so why insist on “their”?

*Truely for truly*

We don’t spell the adverb “surely” as “surly” because this would make 
another word, so why is the adverb of “true” spelt “truly”?

*Twelth as twelfth *

Twelf is related to the Frisian tweli, but why should we care? You would 
not dream of spelling “stealth” or “wealth” with an “f” so why do it in 

Source: The Times Higher Education Supplement

Owen Cook wrote:
> Typo for same? But same as what?
> 2008/8/7 Christian Semmens <christian.semmens at gmail.com>:
>> All I can find on Google is this:
>> Scottish Association Of Meat Wholesalers
>> Thirteenth Annual Summer Acoustic Music Week (SAMW)
>> Both seem unlikely :)
>> Christian
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