Protesters Demand Spelling Bee Get Hooked On Phonics


Four adults dressed in bee costumes appeared yesterday outside the Grand Hyatt where the Scripps National Spelling Bee is being held. They were, oddly enough, there to protest words.

The small group included representatives from the American Literacy Council and the London-based Spelling Society. They were there with one message: our words are simply too long. Their logo — “Enuf is Enuf. Enough is too much.” — reflects this standpoint.

Former elementary school principal Roberta Mahoney says the current construction of our language obstructs 40% of the population from becoming fully literate. “Our alphabet has 425-plus ways of putting words together in illogical ways,” she said. Mahoney would like to see that more words are spelled exactly how they are pronounced. For example, she believes “fruit” should be spelled “froot” and “slow” should be “slo.”

Is this stoopid? Maybe. But, as Lauren Sausser for the Associated Press points out, text messaging and twitter — and other forms that require brevity — have already begun changing how we write and speak. It is not unusual to see texters typing “ne1” instead of “anyone” or “u” for “you.” However, although language is constantly evolving, it does not change overnight. Often the things that survive are not necessarily what one might expect — or what is most logical. And perhaps most tragically, Mahoney’s suggested changes might make things easier for another generation of spellers, but they would render thousands of texts virtually unreadable to a younger generation. I’m no purist (I frequently use bastardized words in my own writing and speech) but I don’t know if I want to imagine a world where the kids are reading Joolius Seezer or Ke-chur ehn thuh Ri, or any other gur-ate buhks.

Spelling Bee Protesters Say It’s Time For Spelling Reform [Newser]
In DC, Even The Spelling Bee Draws Protesters [AP]
Who Would Protest A Spelling Bee? [Politics Daily]

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