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Academic wants to 'free up' English spelling

Apostrophe for the off in linguistic reorganiszation

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Linguistic traditionalists look away now: John Wells, Emeritus Professor of Phonetics at University College London, is proposing English adopts a phonetic approach to spelling in order to relieve kids of the "burden" of learning to write our beloved mother tongue as God intended.

Wells will outline his proposals to the the centenary dinner of the Spelling Society, using his position as president to present his cunning plan to tackle the nation's literacy problems, the Telegraph explains.

He intends to say: "It seems to be a great pity that English-speaking countries are holding back children in this way. In Finnish, once you have learned the letters, you know how to spell, so it would be ludicrous to hold spelling tests. In countries like Italy and Spain it's similar. But with English it's not phonetic, and there are just so many irregularities."

Wells reckons, for example, that "give" would better be rendered as "giv", "river" should become "rivver" and, ahem, that Blighty should reorganisze certain spellings in line with US usage.

And, just to make sure Middle England runs screaming for its Twat-O-Tron, Wells will declare: "Text messaging, email and internet chat rooms are showing us the way forward for English. Let's allow people greater freedom to spell logically. It's time to remove the fetish that says that correct spelling is a principal (principle?) mark of being educated."

Finally, Wells intends to sound the death knell for the bothersome apostrophe, suggesting: "Instead of an apostrophe, we could just leave it out (it's could become its) or leave a space (so we'll would become we ll). Have we really nothing better to do with our lives than fret about the apostrophe?" ®

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