Proof that the revised maxim "If you can't beat 'em, fuck it all off and have some pie" is increasingly the norm reaches us today, as a senior university lecturer throws his hands aloft and declares a spelling amnesty. According to the Times, Dr Ken Smith of Buckinghamshire New University* suggests a list of 20 common mistakes should be waved through as 'variants'.
Smith is ostensibly voicing a plea for some logic to be applied to the notoriously mercurial English spelling system, but seems chiefly concerned with saving time and reducing hair-tearing for tutors beleaguered by constant balls-ups from students. The criminology lecturer, writing in the Times Higher Education mag, said: "Teaching a large first-year course at a British university, I am fed up with correcting my students' atrocious spelling. Aren't we all?
"But why must we suffer? Instead of complaining about the state of the education system as we correct the same mistakes year after year, I've got a better idea."
His dastardly plot is to loosen things up for 20 commonly-misspelt English words and allow alternative spellings such as "truely", "wierd" and "speach". The Times also informs us, as we peer at it through our trembling fingers, that Smith proposes the "their/thier" issue should be resolved by simplification.
"Why not just drop the word their altogether in favour of there?" he asks, as horns no doubt sprout from his brow. "It does not make any difference to the meaning of a sentence if you spell 'their' as 'thier' or 'there', so why insist on 'their'?" (All very well, Dr Smith, but where does that leave "they're", eh? Where?)
In a move guaranteed to perturb some Reg commenters**, Dr Smith also put forward the idea that we shouldn't fuss overmuch about the difference between "queue", "cue" and "Kew".
Naturally Smith's proposals will see a renewal of the huffings and puffings over school literacy standards. We at the Reg can only concur that education is lacking, but would suggest Dr Smith shelve his craven appeasement plans and consider introducing corporal punishment for his mother-tongue-mangling studes. Clearly, it's the only language they understand. ®
* Buckingham New University runs a site about higher education for 11-16 year-olds called Be Coz U Can. An excellent start.
** Anyone correcting our deliberate (as in the headline) misspelling, or indeed our accidental misspelling, will be cast onto the barbecue.