Monday, July 17, 2006

SIMPLIFYD SPELING

This is from andTom, my Dad. Enjoy!

SIMPLIFYD SPELING

I have an axiom that can almost always be applied to a liberal’s logic: Take the opposite (or reciprocal) of a liberal’s premise, and you will find the truth. (1/liberalism = truth, for you math lovers.) In this regard, there is an effort underway by some to revise the spelling of most of the words in the English language in order to make them easier for children to spell. This is the topic of Darlene Superville’s article on Yahoo! News, “Push for Simpler Spelling Persists.” (7/6/06) There is no greater illustration of my axiom than in the liberal idea of “simplified spelling,” and Ms. Superville’s article will provide a good proving ground. For the premise, we need to look no further than the second sentence in Ms. Superville’s article:

“Those in favor of simplified spelling say children would learn faster and illiteracy rates would drop.”

Breaking down this opening statement, I find three premises: 1) the assertion that “simplified spelling” is what its name implies: simple; 2) that children would learn faster with “simplified spelling”; and 3) that illiteracy rates would drop if “simplified spelling” was taught. Using my simple mathematical formula for dealing with liberal logic, the resulting truth would be: 1) simplified spelling is anything but simple, 2) children’s learning would be hampered with simplified spelling, and 3) illiteracy rates would soar. But the proof is in the pudding, as they say, so allow me to examine each of these truths using a bit of common sense conservative logic. And since I am into reciprocals for the moment, I will address them in reverse order.

3) Illiteracy rates would not drop, they would soar. If our children do not learn to spell the words used in the historical English language, they will not be able to read them or pronounce them, since no “normal” English words would be recognizable. Not one book in the country is written using “simplified spelling.” (Actually, I have a book at home of Uncle Remus stories filled with phonetic spellings like “Brer”, “cuz” and “wid dat”, but I somehow don’t think it would be politically correct in today’s culture to use the book in the classroom.) This means that a child educated (indoctrinated?) in simplified spelling would never be able to read the typical novel, reference book or newspaper. Somehow, I don’t think there will be a ground swell of interest to translate every known English language book or document into “simplified English.” The bottom line: If illiteracy in children was a rocket ship, it could make it to Alpha Centauri with “simplified spelling” as its fuel.

2) Children would not learn faster; their learning would be hampered. The most obvious support for this statement is reciprocal truth #1 above: if a child cannot read or pronounce the “historical” English language, his ability to learn will be seriously handicapped. But let me add to this by introducing another axiom that can always be applied to a liberal’s logic: A liberal will typically prefer to use a bleeding-heart emotional argument instead of empirical data to support his premise. The thrust behind the teaching of “simplified spelling”, according to Ms. Superville’s journalistic research, is to help the kids who can’t seem to compete well in spelling bees. (They… “cuud do just as wel if speling were simpler.”) My heart is supposed to be touched so much at this point that I am willing to toss logic out the window. But how difficult can learning to spell English words be when foreign kids (some with immigrated parents who cannot even speak the English language well) have won our national spelling bee contests? Let’s face it: The most common reasons for spelling and learning difficulties in students are poor study habits (laziness), minimal parent input, and lackadaisical academic standards in the classroom. If a child cannot learn standardized spelling, which is reiterated in every book, magazine, and newspaper in the country, how can it be that he would learn a new language that is not reinforced anywhere else but in a liberal classroom setting? (Keep in mind we are talking about a child that is probably already academically lazy.)

Ms. Superville quotes Alan Mole, president of the American Literacy Council, as saying that learning English requires rote memory rather than logic, and that he favors an end to “illogical” spelling. So, his answer to the real causes of slow learning (lack of parent input, bad study habits and pass-them-at-all-costs school district policies) is to change the entire English language. That should help, sure. Very logical, Mr. Mole.

3) Simplified spelling will be anything but simple. Since “simplified spelling” is phonetically-driven, there would seem to be obvious problems between different areas of the country, where English words are pronounced differently. (Henry Higgins would have a field day with this.) Imagine how a person from Amarillo, Texas and a native from Brooklyn, New York would phonetically spell the word “bird”. The Texan might spell it “burd”, while the New Yorker would spell it “boyd.” Learning “burd” would make no sense to the second-grader who goes home to hear his parents saying “boyd” each day. We would need multiple phonetic spellings of each word, depending upon the area of the country in which it was taught. Moreover, how would one distinguish between two words that phonetically sound the same yet are spelled differently and have different meanings, like “red” and “read,” “bow” and “bough,” “so” and “sew”? Taken out of context, a student would not know the meaning of such words. “Simplified” English would not be simple. Far from it.

This whole idea is so potentially destructive to the education of our children and to our country that one has to wonder about the motive of those who promote it. So what do we know about Carnegie, Dewey and Shaw, well-known names “dropped” on the reader by Ms. Superville? A bit of research will reveal that all three were apparently opponents of Christianity, supporters of social Darwinism, and “internationalists” (supporters of the idea that world peace could be accomplished through the governing of powerful men). An ignorant citizenry is a citizenry more easily ruled by an “elite” group of powerful men…and simplified spelling would certainly contribute to the ignorance of our young children. I leave the rest to your “imajinaeshun”.

Tom Lancaster

7/8/06

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