Half of all Britons can't even spel [sic]
... screamed the headline, wittily.
Naturally, the usual suspects—such as computer spell-checkers—were held up for blame, but the really stupid fucking comment came from John Gledhill of the Spelling Society (of which, more later).
"It's not the fault of the teachers, nor of the students, but of the archaic spelling system which they have to learn," he said.
"In effect, we are still using 16th-century spelling for a 21st-century language."
John Gledhill is a stupid fucking cunt; of course it is the fault of the teachers and of the students that they are unable to spell their own language: in fact, it's a fucking disgrace.
Amongst other things, Samuel Johnson published the first English Dictionary—in an attempt to standardise spelling—on 15 April 1755, so, whilst there may have been some changes, it isn't as though the students are being caught out by a mutable standard, is it?
So, yes, it is the fault of teachers and students.
However, all is not as it seems. You see, I thought that John Gledhill might simply be a disingenuous prick, frightened of annoying the teaching lobby. But no, John Gledhill has an agenda.
"How so?" I hear you ask. After all, from its monicker, surely one would assume that the Spelling Society is dedicated to ensuring the correct construction of the English language?
Um, no. For the Spelling Society is not quite what it seems.
The Spelling Society started in 1908 (as the Simplified Spelling Society), and has the aim of raising awareness of the problems caused by the irregularity of English spelling and to promote remedies to improve literacy, including spelling reform. The Spelling Society publishes leaflets, newsletters, journals, books and bulletins to promote spelling reform of the English language.
Or, to put it another way, the Spelling Society is an organisation with a vested interest in "proving" that the people of Britain cannot spell their own language.
I am pretty sure that many of them cannot, but this is a failure of our education system, not of our language. Further, your humble Devil does not support imposed systems of language any more than he does of government; the near-infinite subtlety of the English language is, in part, derived from the roots that influence the spelling of words.
The Spelling Society argues that, without our somewhat idiosyncratic constructions, children (won't somebody think of the children?)—especially those who are dyslexic (won't somebody think of the disabled children? If only our spelling was different, maybe Tiny Tim could be saved...)—would no longer have to be taught spelling (why?) and they could do more constructive things instead.
Thus, the SS argue for a simplification of the language. But, on the flipside, I have not needed to spend my precious time expanding my vocabulary by rote, for my knowledge of Latin and Greek allow me to ascertain the likely meaning of complicated words without actually having to sit down and learn them. Hence, our spelling system has saved me time.
Thus, I believe that the fulfillment of the Spelling Society's aims would, in fact, directly lead to a debasement and contraction of the English language and thus conjure a far duller world described with a paucity of linguistic allure.
And, at any rate, the SS should certainly be declaring their interest in an article such as that which appeared yesterday, rather than using a name that deliberately gives the impression that their perceived aims are the very opposite of the actuality. So fuck you John Gledhill, and fuck the Spelling Society.
Oh, and teachers?—don't think that you are off the hook, you useless fuckers...