Thursday, June 3, 2004

Our spelling 'shuud be lojical,' protesters cry

By Carl Weiser
Enquirer Washington Bureau

Some examples of how the American Literacy Society would change the way we spell:
• Complex would become kompleks.
• Increase, inkrees.
• Neck, nek.
• Peace, pees.
• Small, smawl.
• Wrong, rawng.
Source: "Spelling for the 21st Century: The Case for Spelling Reform" by Sanford Silverman
WASHINGTON - Protesters delivered a message Wednesday to the national spelling bee: Enuf is enuf!

Seven members of the American Literacy Society picketed the 77th bee, sponsored every year by Cincinnati-based Scripps Howard.

The protesters' complaint: English spelling is illogical. And the national spelling bee only reinforces the crazy spellings that lead to dyslexia, high illiteracy and harder lives for immigrants.

"We advocate the modernization of English spelling," Pete Boardman, 58, of Groton, N.Y., said. The Cornell University bus driver admitted to being a terrible speller.

Protester Elizabeth Kuizenga, 56, is such a good speller that she teaches English as a second language in San Francisco. She said she got involved in the protest after seeing how much time was wasted teaching spelling in her class.

Bee spokesman Mark Kroeger said good spelling comes from knowing the story behind a word - what language it comes from, what it means: "For these kids who understand the root words, who understand the etymology, it's totally logical."

The protesters say the illogical spelling of English words makes dyslexia more difficult to overcome and helps explain why one in five Americans is functionally illiterate.

Carrying signs reading "I'm thru with through," "Spelling shuud be lojical," and "Spell different difrent," the protesters drew chuckles from bee contestants.

"I can't believe people are picketing against something this ridiculous," said Steven Maheshwary, 14, of Houston, who successfully spelled "Zoroastrian" in the bee.

Or as 13-year-old contestant (tautologous) Rachel Karas of Flint, Mich., put it: "It's just spelling. You gotta learn it."

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