Is it me, or can most people on social networking sites not spell? I get acronyms, but actual misspelling, really? I'm not that old, either-not even thirty.

Does this make anyone else crazy or is it just me?

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If you're using recent versions of MSWord, find your way into its AutoCorrect table and you can tell it to fix typos like 'alot' and numerous others.

I use 'parliamentary' and 'parliamentarian' often so I put 'py' and 'pn' into the table and it expands them for me.

When I was a high school teacher, poor spelling and grammar used to drive me crazy. But you have to admit that English is NOT an easy language to read and spell -- in countries where they use phonetic alphabets, dyslexia is nearly unheard of. Which leads me to believe that dyslexia is not a real disability; it is the result of a very poorly constructed spelling system that favors those who have good visual memories (I have a snapshot in my head of every word I've ever seen, including the misspellings), and penalizes those who don't.

The other issue is that people who text a lot have developed a system of spelling and grammar that minimizes the number of keystrokes necessary to communicate a message, saving time, which has to be paid for. So it was developed for a very good reason, but does tend to make those of us used to formal systems uncomfortable. I personally find it hard to read, but suppose it would become easier if I used it myself.

So it depends on whether you want to be descriptive or prescriptive in your judgments about language -- as a linguist, I tend to be descriptive, but on the other hand, I am very definite about how I will use the language myself.

A friend of mine ran that through his computer, and found that it wasn't true. Unfortunately, I don't have his examples -- they were on a previous computer that died. Trying to think of some examples of words, especially when NOT in context: dceamroay, ahlecogroy, ienlpemmt. But I do WISH it was true, because it would be a pretty splendid idea! :-) But then, I'm one who can't even figure out the 5-letter mixed up words in the Sunday paper! :-)

Ran it through a computer?

Computers are so dumb/stupid/etc. They can do dumb stuff at amazing speeds.

I wrote computer code. I told computers what to do, how to do it, when to start doing it, and most importantly when to stop doing it.

And this, they didn't do what I wanted them to do; they did what I told them to do.

We humans are slow but we can do so much.

I wasn't clear about what my friend did. He set up a rule that the first and last letters had to stay in place, but the others could be scrambled freely. He managed to come up with some paragraphs that truly WERE unreadable.

Yes, I have seen that and it is very easy to read. 

This would be an interesting test to see how fluent non-native speakers of English are. I might have to borrow it and pass it around to my JTEs (Japanese Teachers of English).

Although I was a biology teacher I spent more time, than the curriculum allowed, on behavior and learning in animals and  human beings.  One experiment I imposed on my students was to learn and use the Unifon Alphabet.  They loved it and they did most of their assignments in Unifon. Many of them were using it within two or three days without the conversion chart.

The chances will see a new script anytime soon is slim.

I didn't get to experience the Unifon phonetic alphabet (except for a taste just now from the website), but its backers claim it makes the initial stages of literacy much faster, freeing kids to use their rich spoken vocabulary rather than a mere few hundred words they "know how to spell". It wasn't intended as a script/spelling reform for English, but rather as a transitional alphabet. Supposedly, within months, students who learned Unifon become comfortable with the regular alphabet at a high reading level.

They do use a bit of fairytale:

O - ORK [ark] from Unifon chart(The other fantasy item isn't a problem; we don't have grownups going around claiming that unicorns are real.)

I notice they spelled "unicorn" with the symbol for the "ah" sound in "ball" rather than the underlined O in Ocean.  Is that a typo, or the result of the writer of the chart having some odd accent?  The problem with a system like this is someone's accent and pronunciation will get to be the approved one used for the spelling.  (Part of the reason English spelling is so bodged up today is when it was first being set, they'd pick a regional pronunciation at random sometimes and render it.)

You're right, a system like that will codify some accent or other. Hopefully a teacher or school will use whatever dialect is actually spoken there.

If it's a transitional teaching alphabet, rather than a system to replace English spelling, that won't do any harm. The Fry list of 1,000 common words (available on's Dictionaries page) has two pronunciations and two Unifon spellings for some words, starting with "the" (ħI or ħU).

(I'm faking some characters with ones out of "Character Map"; I apologize if they don't show up properly.)

The other problem is that Unifon doesn't seem to actually have a symbol for the 'o' vowel in "unicorn"; the 'o' in "ocean" is a diphthong, as in "o-u-shun". The intent seems to have been to make spellings similar to English spelling, rather than representing phonemes more or less one-to-one. The diphthong in "owl" could have been written "AŪ" as in "ant"+"ruler". (If I were a linguist I'd know some concise, precise terminology and notation for all this!)

They seem to overload the Λ symbol (as used in UNIKΛRN) for a couple of different vowels.

Skimming the Fry list, it uses O for "old", but Λ for other words with a similar vowel, and for a very different vowel:

old = OLD

door = DΛR
floor = FLΛR
story = STΛRI (but I'd write the final vowel I for "ee" as in "bee".)
more = MΛR

But also:

ball = BΛL
off = ΛF
office = ΛFUS
walk = WΛK
saw = SΛ



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