Is spelling important in your country?

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zwim

Senior Member
français
Spelling in France is quite important and there are specific courses in school (dictée) to teach that, although as DearPrudence told, it's less emphasized than in the past, ministers even regularly contemplate the possibility of removing such a teaching.

I remember the Dictée (a televised exercise of extreme difficulty spelling with awards and such), where i was happy i made only 19 mistakes (and i was quite good at that exercise at school), while my father made only 14 and i was so surprized seeing my grandmother sobbing in tears, complaining she was getting older and useless. I asked her her score, and she had made 4 mistakes. I was ashamed to tell her mine...

Yet wrong spelling is everywhere, and it's not uncommon to see some red felt-tipped correction on a poster or a note displayed in a public place.

It's also common that on forums some people (generally young) write with a lot of spelling mistakes (when not in sms language) and see an army of angry redeemers coming to castigate the infidel (which in turn are called old-timers when not nazis by the wrong spelling one).

Incorrect spelling in your cover/motivation letter can cost you a job, even if you apply for the least of unskilled labour, because it would mean that you are not serious to the job if you don't give the fuck to examine your mail with the spell-checker, even if the employer has to run the spell-checker himself to detect your mistakes. But then, when in the place, you are free to make all the mistakes you want, even in educated jobs, because most people are like you and they don't bother or wouldn't because of social conventions, i exagerate maybe a bit, but it's kind of a paradoxal situation.
 
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  • Mikeo38

    Senior Member
    English (British)
    It's interesting to see the reference to dictation above. The latter has had a bad press over the years but when I was teaching at a private English language school in the UK, I used dictation every day in what I found was an effective way - not as a test; certainly not an extract from an unseen text but from something that we'd covered the previous day. At the end of each lesson, I'd say something like: "OK today we went through this piece about animal welfare. Tomorrow I'll dictate part of one of the paragraphs." This was duly dictated at the start of the lesson and each student would correct the script of a person sitting nearby. Including the correction, the whole thing would last no more than five minutes. Apart from directing attention to the spelling, this exercise helped to settle the class down. Also any latecomers would not miss the main part of the day's lesson. As far as dictation is concerned, I believe the rule should be 'brief, little and often'. It's best used to reinforce words that students have already encountered.
     

    Rallino

    Moderatoúrkos
    Turkish
    Turkish is highly phonetic, so it's not exactly difficult to spell a word. So almost all the spelling errors are about spelling what should be written in two words as one whole word, or vice versa. Sometimes, it might cause a misunderstanding:

    Ev de = The house as well
    Evde = in the house

    But since the context almost always makes it clear, the majority of the people simply don't care about it, so you could say that misspellings are quite common in the country.

    For me,though,none of those misspellings are as annoying as missing a space after a comma,or inserting one before a fullstop .
     

    kakapadaka

    Senior Member
    Polish
    In Polish it's fairly important although many people ignore correct spelling, especially in the Internet.
    A blatant disregard for it is frowned upon and ridiculed, not only in school. Fellow Internet users will mock you if you misspell severely, although we are very forgiving about making simplifications when typing online in informal situations, see below.
    Kids learn spelling at school, although we have no spelling competitions like those seen in some American movies. At some point (somewhere around age 14 in my case) grammar and spelling exercise end and all you're left with is literature (which, by the way, would be more than enough to ensure that we know how to spell, IF we took the trouble to actually do the reading).
    As for the nature of our spelling sins, Polish has many phonemes related to more than just one grapheme (letter). For instance, both ó and u are pronunced /u/, both h and ch are pronunced /x/ etc. So if you see a graffiti saying HWDP this will be an incorrect version of CHWDP ("F**k the police") and if you don't read many books and skip your language class you won't know how the correct word looks like. To make things worse, there are lots of homophones, so many spellings can be correct depending on the context.
    Diacritical marks are often omitted, especially online. A seasoned speaker will know that zolw is actually żółw and zyznosc is actually żyzność. Sometimes it's done on purpose to mimic a spoken style. Try googling ja pierdole which is an incorrect spelling of ja pierdolę ("f**k me", "for f**k's sake"), you'll find plenty of internet memes all written wrong. It's so, because the -ę ending is actually pronunced as [e], and you can write it that way to make it more similar to its usual, colloquial way of being said.
    There are tons of other examples, I can elaborate if you wish, but I don't think that was the idea for this thread. Anyway, Polish is pretty complex with its spelling, so books can be (and have been) written on the subject.
     
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    franknagy

    Senior Member
    Silvia,
    What is the main difficulty in the Italian spelling for a young scholar?
    There are many dialects in Italy very different from the official Italian language?
    Is the spelling of Venice dialect taught in Venice, for example?
     

    Nino83

    Senior Member
    Italian
    Words like "informazione" or "polizia", i.e with "zi + vowel", which are pronounced with a double [ʦʦ], [informaʦʦjoːne], the plural of words ending with unstressed "cia" and "gia", like "ciliegia" and "camicia", which are written "ciliegie", "camicie" (with "gie" and "cie"), "bolgia" and "provincia", written "bolge" and "province" (with "ge" and "ce"), because they are pronounced the same, i.e [ʧe]/[ʤe].
    But, at elementary school, you are taught that the correct orthography is "zione", "gie/cie" if there is a vowel before "c/g" and "ge/ce" if there is a consonant before "c/g".
    Other errors are those regarding "ne/né" (ne = some, né...né = neither...nor), "ce/c'è" (ce = of it, c'è = there is), "c/qu" in word pronounced [kw], like "cuore", "qual è" ("qual'è" is wrong), "un po'" (and not "un pò"), "accelerare" (not "accellerare"), "un amico", "un'amica", but "l'amico", "l'amica" (while "un'amico", "un amica" are wrong), "e/è", "a/ha".

    For peninsular Italians (who have "raddoppiamento fonosintattico" before some prepositions and other particular words) sometimes one doesn't know if there is a single word or a preposition + word, like "a posto" (in place, ok) and "apposto" (put), which are both pronounced [appɔsto], or "a fianco" (beside) and "affianco" (I stand beside), both pronounced [affjanko].

    I mentioned almost all possible mistakes and I had to search them on a website, because I can't remember them.
     
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    Nino83

    Senior Member
    Italian
    I don't know (I'm from Sicily).
    There is a composition written by an 8 years old kid in Ca' Tron di Roncalde, Veneto, 1954:
    http://www.veja.it/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/monte_berico.jpg
    Some mistakes: "siamo ndati a lamadona demonteberico" (siamo andati dalla madonna di Monte Berico), "grassia par miasorela" (grazia per mia sorella), "maridata" (maritata, sposata) "ani" (anni), "e no a gnanca tosatei" (e non ha figli), "siamo pregati" (abbiamo pregato), "siamo mangiati" (abbiamo mangiato), "siamo vegnuti casa" (siamo venuti a casa), "no si siamo capiti" (non ci siamo capiti), "co la" (con la), "fatostà" (fatto sta), "insinta" (incinta), "laltra sorela" (l'altra sorella), "no è gnonca maridata" (non è neanche maritata/sposata).

    It was written in 1954, I guess that today there should be fewer mistakes.
    In Veneto Venetian language is spoken a lot, while, for example, Piedmontese and Milanese are endangered languages (according to UNESCO).
    In peninsular Italy there are fewer problems with spelling, because Italian languages below the La Spezia-Rimini (exactly Massa-Senigallia) line are very similar in phonology and grammar.
     
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    Mikeo38

    Senior Member
    English (British)
    I disagree with eno2, who appears to be praising incorrect spelling on the grounds that spelling mistakes “make us individuals again”. There is nothing praiseworthy about an individual who writes ‘recieve’ instead of ‘receive’. Teachers who do not correct spelling mistakes do their pupils a great disservice.
    M
     

    eno2

    Senior Member
    Dutch-Flemish
    I disagree with eno2, who appears to be praising incorrect spelling on the grounds that spelling mistakes “make us individuals again”. There is nothing praiseworthy about an individual who writes ‘recieve’ instead of ‘receive’. Teachers who do not correct spelling mistakes do their pupils a great disservice.
    M
    Just joking a bit. I am very very sensible to correct spelling to thepoint of being a purist. But in my language (Dutch), it's almost impossible to reach proficiency. Even the most educated make constant errors, media are full of errors, regulators make a shambles of it- for instance by changing rules each new legislature, with sometimes outright stupid changes.
     

    Mikeo38

    Senior Member
    English (British)
    OK and glad that you didn't take offence! It's just that I have never been a natural speller - I check and double-check rather than make a mistake in anything that I write. I don't know much about Dutch: has there been a spelling reform, as was the case in German-speaking countries some years ago? I'm now retired but when I was working (in GB) I was shocked by the sloppy English that appeared in letters inquiring about jobs. That was before the days of the spellchecker although I'm the first to admit that such devices are not always reliable. I took the view that if someone was sloppy enough not to check the spelling in an important letter, then h/she would be sloppy in other respects, too.
    M
     

    eno2

    Senior Member
    Dutch-Flemish
    OK and glad that you didn't take offence! It's just that I have never been a natural speller - I check and double-check rather than make a mistake in anything that I write. I don't know much about Dutch: has there been a spelling reform, as was the case in German-speaking countries some years ago? I'm now retired but when I was working (in GB) I was shocked by the sloppy English that appeared in letters inquiring about jobs. That was before the days of the spellchecker although I'm the first to admit that such devices are not always reliable. I took the view that if someone was sloppy enough not to check the spelling in an important letter, then h/she would be sloppy in other respects, too.
    M
    Spell-checkers are a great help but I access a more potent package in Windows Word including a grammar program to double-check on some occasions. I would never dare to post anything entirely without checking. I learn a lot from it. Spelling standards are falling everywhere, notoriously so on general fora. On serious occasions, it gives a bad impression.
     

    Einstein

    Senior Member
    UK, English
    Digressing a bit: the so-called grammar check in Word (English) tells me I shouldn't use the passive (!) and that I should use the strong relative pronouns (who, which) only in a non-defining relative clause. I stick to the spell-check and ignore the rest.
     

    Mikeo38

    Senior Member
    English (British)
    Yes, Word has got a thing about the passive! What I've done is disable the box for 'Passive' in Word prefs on the basis that I know when and where the passive should or should not be used. I previously tended towards 'which' (for things) in defining relative clauses but Word kept nudging me towards 'that'. Just shows you how one can get worn down because I probably now use 'that' most of the time! The spellcheck is good but, of course, when I wrote my post above (Today at 12:11) in Word before pasting it into the box for the forum ("an individual who writes ‘recieve’ instead of ‘receive’) the spellchecker kept autocorrecting 'recieve'. But how was the poor thing to know? However, let's be grateful for spellcheckers because they are useful tools.
    M
     

    Hulalessar

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Spelling standards are falling everywhere, notoriously so on general fora.
    I doubt that the number of people who can spell correctly has changed significantly. With the spread of personal computers people are writing who once rarely wrote. There is a lot more writing about that we get to see.
     

    eno2

    Senior Member
    Dutch-Flemish
    I doubt that the number of people who can spell correctly has changed significantly. With the spread of personal computers people are writing who once rarely wrote. There is a lot more writing about that we get to see.
    It's notoriously the case on universities (falling spelling standards). In Flanders I mean, because I read articles who proved that. I don't think there are more than a few people "who can spell correctly". You have to be a specialist.
     

    Nino83

    Senior Member
    Italian
    I think that if only few people can spell correctly there is a problem and a spelling reform is needed.
    It's unthinkable that, for example, in public competitive exams most people, who have to write by hand, probably will make a lot of spelling mistakes.
     

    Mikeo38

    Senior Member
    English (British)
    The spelling reform in Germany met with a lot of resistance - there would be even more in Britain! Fairly or unfairly, rightly or wrongly, if you make a spelling mistake you hold yourself up to ridicule and people may think that you are uneducated. In respect of spelling, I reckon that for most people, words fall into three categories: (1) easy words (eg book), (2) really difficult words (eg chrysanthemum) and (3) 'iffy' words (eg relevant - people are unsure whether it's 'relevant' or 'relevent'). I am not a natural speller and when I need to write words from (2) or (3) I check the spelling. In the past, this meant leafing through a dictionary but with the internet it's so easy. Of course, there still remains the problem that if you have no idea how to spell a really difficult word, you may not be able to find it! Rather than risk a spelling mistake, I choose another word or spend longer searching.
    M
     

    nimak

    Senior Member
    Macedonian
    Cna yuo raed tihs?

    i cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg. The
    phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid, aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it dseno't mtaetr in waht oerdr the ltteres in a wrod are, the olny iproamtnt tihng is taht the frsit and lsat ltteer be in the rghit
    pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it whotuit a
    pboerlm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by
    istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Azanmig huh? yaeh and I awlyas tghuhot
    slpeling was ipmorantt!
    :eek: :D

    English in not my native language, but I raed htat txet wthiuot a porbelm.
     

    Xamayca

    Senior Member
    Jamaican English
    Correct English spelling is important in schools here, homes, the workplace, on street signs etc. Students do spelling test in primary schools at least 3/4 times a week or take part in Spelling Bee.
    However, many people here and on some other islands in the Caribbean, spell words the way they sound. In my country, it's called "Jamaican Patois". Eg. Me doh see di mango inna bag or mi/meh doh si di mango inna bag. (I don't see the mango in a bag).
    There's not really a standard way to write it, but you get the gist.
    There are Jamaicans, and foreigners that correct sentences like these because, they think it's a failed attempt to write Jamaican Standard English. If a student writes this in school the teacher will surely correct him/her.
    But, If it's not just an accent but a language, how do you correct a language to make it more English, if it's not English? xD. Then there are people who see it as a dialect. How do you correct a country with 2 dialects of English? If a dialect is supposed to represent speakers of a certain region, area or class.
     

    Red Arrow

    Senior Member
    Dutch - Belgium
    Cna yuo raed tihs?

    i cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg. The
    phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid, aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it dseno't mtaetr in waht oerdr the ltteres in a wrod are, the olny iproamtnt tihng is taht the frsit and lsat ltteer be in the rghit
    pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it whotuit a
    pboerlm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by
    istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Azanmig huh? yaeh and I awlyas tghuhot
    slpeling was ipmorantt!
    This is how people are able to read subtitles without having to focus on the bottom of the screen.
     

    NewAmerica

    Banned
    Mandarin
    When I was in school, we were always taught that spelling was one of the most important language skills.

    Cna yuo raed tihs?

    i cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg. The
    phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid, aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it dseno't mtaetr in waht oerdr the ltteres in a wrod are, the olny iproamtnt tihng is taht the frsit and lsat ltteer be in the rghit
    pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it whotuit a
    pboerlm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by
    istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Azanmig huh? yaeh and I awlyas tghuhot
    slpeling was ipmorantt!
    Yes. I read it without problem.

    But spelling is very important. Because the reading feelings are completely different. The correctly spelt text gives me a refreshing and beautiful feeling, while the misspelt text, though understandable, looks unpleasantly ugly.

    Attached the correctly spelt text (wittened. Wipe it with your mouse to show it)

    I couldn't believe that I could actually understand what I was reading. The phenomenal power of the human mind, according to a reaserch at Cambridge University, it doesnt matter in what order the letters in a word are, the only important thing is that the first and last letter be in the right place. The rest can be a total mess and you can still read it without a problem. This is because the human mind does not read every letter by itself, but the word as a whole. Amazing huh? Yeah and I always taught spelling was important!
     

    Penyafort

    Senior Member
    Catalan (Catalonia), Spanish (Spain)
    Dictations were and still are an important part of learning to spell here but mainly in early school years. Once in secondary school you are expected to spell well -something which proves to be false most of the time- and you are required to do so in examinations, otherwise points are substracted.

    The main challenge, though, for children in Catalonia is not to mix the spelling rules of Catalan with those of Spanish and vice versa, as many cognates are written differently and the rules of accents and diacritic marks are somewhat different too.
     

    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    I had a sales representative that worked for us (he was an independent rep, we only paid him commissions). When he spoke he sounded educated. But when he wrote emails his spelling, punctuation and grammar were so atrocious that he looked like a grade school dropout.

    I required that he send all emails to the office for editing prior to sending them to the customer. His normal writing was so bad as to make our company seem like a third rate manufacturing plant manned by illiterate laborers.

    So, yes, I think spelling is important. Also choosing the right words. And grammar. And punctuation. And pronunciation.
     

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    I have often thought that spelling problems were only in English. Many languages are spelled phonetically (the way words are spoken). English is spelled the way word used to be spoken hundreds of years ago, by some people in some places. Why else would /naɪt/ be "knight" but /baɪt/ be "bite"?

    As one Chinese student of English said, "English spelling follows rules. But there are too many rules. You end up having to memorize which rule to use with each word."

    This thread makes me feel better. It shows me that spelling is a problem in many other languages too.

    With the spread of personal computers people are writing who once rarely wrote.
    One linguist (Professor McWhorter) says that spoken English and written English are different languages to a linguist, and that modern "chatspeak" (used in smartphone chats and live forums online) is a new third form combining those 2 old forms. It has the real-time interaction of speech, so it uses much of the simplified grammar of speech. But it is written.

    His lectures (which I saw on video) explained some common chat terms (such as LOL) as new linguistic forms, not slang or errors.
     
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