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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The way to learn English is to read, read, read. No shortcuts. English is too complex for simple rules because it incorporates so many other languages. Take some comfort in the fact that about 80% of the words in modern English come from Old English (sometimes called Anglo-Saxon English.) Of course, the Saxons came chiefly from Germanic areas of Europe, and their origins had a powerful impact on English.

Yup! English stuck rather stubbornly to its Germanic grammar, fortunately simplified by the Norman French learning Old English badly. (So things like gender and case now only matter for a few isolated words -- though common ones like she/​he/​her/​him/​hers/​his -- rather than being baked into the entire language.)

Our vocabulary, complete with idiosyncratic irregular plurals, is a whole nother matter. As James Nicoll famously wrote: "The problem with defending the purity of the English language is that English is about as pure as a cribhouse whore. We don't just borrow words; on occasion, English has pursued other languages down alleyways to beat them unconscious and [rifle] their pockets for new vocabulary."

I try to spell correctly and conform to most of the rules of writing. I do, however, misuse and misspell words for effect or to mock from time to time. How a person writes - uses words – and spells reflects, for good or ill, on what one is trying to communicate. But we all screw up on the simple things on occasion – “their, there, they're” and “alot” for a lot (even worse “allot”), “ were and we're”, “dog and dawg” :>)

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.




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