The crazy suggestion to abandon spelling rules

Imagine my astonishment when reading The Times today when I came across this article here. My mind boggles:

Children are being held back at school because they are forced to memorise irregular spellings and learn how to use the apostrophe...

Wait... ? What's that? Children are being held back because of spelling and apostrophes? I don't think so somehow - I don't believe I was held back because I was made to learn my mother tongue properly; so why is it only the children of today who are suffering from this cruel and barbaric teaching? I could make a really sarcastic remark here... oh wait, I already did.

English is used in most subjects (from History essays to Biology notes) - it's the foundation of learning - surely having the correct bedrock in place makes all other subjects easier because it allows the child to communicate what they have learnt in writing tasks? Can you imagine being the teacher having to mark twenty-five different essays on the Chewdur/Chooda/Tewda period? - The Tudor period to those of us who don't spell words how we say them. This is what Professor Wells suggests (amazingly, this man has degrees from Cambridge and the University of London... !)

'Let’s allow people greater freedom to spell logically,' he said. 'It’s time to remove the fetish that says that correct spelling is a principal (principle?) mark of being educated.'

If there's one thing I've learnt throughout life, people have different ideas of what constitutes logical. It's like saying: "We're holding back those in the driving community who struggle with roundabouts, let's allow them the freedom to tackle roundabouts as they see fit." My example is a little OTT admittedly, but we have structure there for a reason - society would crumble without some regulations in place. This should apply to language-use as well; it would be word-anarchy if not!

Another point from the article was:

Text messaging, e-mail and internet chat rooms are showing us the way forward for English.

Yes, yes they are - the Internet has allowed such wonderful acronyms like WTF!? to penetrate daily language (my initial reaction to this article), but only insofar they show us the way forward for English from the emergence of new words that reflect these technological advancements - these developments should never be at the cost of the fundamental rules of language!

I'm pleased to report most of the online comments on The Times site find this suggestion as appalling as I do. Yes, let us enrich the English language by extending our lexicon, but please, let's not make it at the expense of the language itself by pandering to crazy notions we should allow our language to become a crazy free-for-all. There's enough chaos going on in the world as it is.

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