Wednesday, June 24, 2009

How to Spell M-I-D-O-L

I'm on a rant today, folks. Sorry about that in advance.

So the British have decided to drop the rule, "I before E, except after C" eh? Mighty big of them, considering they foisted that stupid rule on us in the first place. Not that I ever paid attention to it, mind you. There were so many exceptions it was absurd. Rote memory is the only way to learn that crap.

And what is more bizarre than anything I can make up, people are rioting over this. Thin, middle-aged men with bad haircuts and tweed jackets are coming to fisticuffs over this. There was a guy on the radio yesterday who was screaming about how cataclysmic changing this rule would be. Bring on the apocalypse...if you can spell it, that is.

Personally, I think the British have every right to change English. It is the King's English and they did #@!% it up to begin with. Why don't they take the "u" out of "colour" and "flavour" while they are at it? And what about those stupid "k's" on "knowledge" and silent "p's" on "pneumatic?"

Perhaps I shouldn't complain, because I have a knack for spelling. I've always been pretty good at it. There's a trick to it, like doing math in your head - which is, by the way, something I can't do. But give me a word and throw in a French double twist and I've got it. I'd rather have another talent, like the ability to fly or a knack for not killing every plant in my yard. But no, spelling it is.

So with my love/knack/curse for spelling, you'd probably think I'd be a big fan of the National Spelling Bee, right? You couldn't be more wrong.

Here's an idea; let's take some little kids, make them spend twelve hours a day outside of school studying the dictionary to the point where they pass out on stage from stress to learn words that 1) rocket scientists don't even need to know how to spell and 2) every kindergartner can spell like a champion with spell-check.

Seriously. How is this going to help these kids later in life? It always comes down to medical and latin terms. Okay, so maybe if the kid becomes a doctor, and has no secretary, computer or dictionary, it might come in useful. Oh wait, that's impossible. Who will schedule their tee time?

I've seen documentaries on these spelling bee kids. They sadly watch their friends go play while they are quizzed by stage moms who think that spelling blah-blah-blah will take them somewhere in life. The big Bee is for eighth graders. Then it is over. The kid goes onto high school and can spell, but doesn't know who Beyonce is or how to use Facebook - a mortal sin in teenage wasteland.

Spelling is a useful talent...especially if you are an illiterate Amish newspaper editor. But these days, I just need to know how to spell the important Midol. Which I'm going off to shoot up now, if I can find a vein.

The Assassin


terrio said...

I'd forgotten how screwed up the English language is until I tried helping my daughter learn to spell. I finally taught her to memorize and gave up on "sounding it out". Bah!

I like the "i before e" rule.

Hope the Midol works.

jenifer said...

So, they're not actually changing the way words are spelled, right? They're just not embracing an old rule of thumb memory trick? And people care about that? Even if I lived in Britain they couldn't stop me from using that trick, so . . . Sorry, I don't see the problem.

I learned it as "i before e, except after c, when the sound is ee". This eliminates many of the exceptions, like vein. You still end up with some (such as weird), but most words do fit with that last part tagged onto the rule.

Leslie Langtry said...

Hey, isn't there something else to that too, like "except if it sounds like A, as in neighbor and weigh..." something like that?

I still remember mnemonic (another screwed up word) like ROYGBIV for the colors of the rainbow and Martha Visits Every Monday and Just Stays Until Noon, Period. Of course, that's when Pluto was a planet...

I think I got off track somehow...

Bookmobiler said...

Bring on the apocalypse...if you can spell it, that is.

Actually I don't think I can. I'd probably have trouble typing it too.

While spelling and grammar errors can be amusing I've always gotten irritated at those who use them to decry the death of the language.

For me the real beauty of the English language is that you can screw it up in so many ways and still make sense.

If you understood what they meant who cares if it could be taken some other way.

On the other hand: and 2) every kindergartner can spell like a champion with spell-check;

spell checkers are a menace. They'll tell you when a word is misspelled. But if both your spelling and typing are as bad as mine you are in deep trouble.

They are incapable of telling you that you ended up with the WRONG word! I wont even guess how often this has tripped me up. And the number of times you can spot this in newspapers and books is frightening.

PS: I toyed with the idea of leaving all my typos and misspellings in this post but that would be a terrible thing to do to freinds. ;)

Leslie Langtry said...

Thank Todd you left them out! I just found one in the first chapter of my new book. Of course, I broke my rule and read it in the first place so it's on me.

Refhater said...

*Sets a large box of Godivas on the table and backs away slowly.*

I can't spell to save my life but am ok with basic math. (Learned multiplication tables playing yatzee.) Schoolhouse Rock taught my siblings and myself more than most our teachers did back then.

My favorite school subjects were my literature classes. My teacher Mrs. Butler made it fun and interesting and refused to accept anything but perfection. She made us want to work and work hard for her approval.

Estella said...

Great post. I love it!

Anonymous said...

If the Brits need to remove the 'U' from colour then the Americans need to stop using 'Z' instead of 'S'.