Monday, February 9, 2009

Spelling Bee Minus: Over Half of Americans are 'Embarased'(sic) by Spelling

/PRNewswire/ -- Independent survey of spelling out today shows that more than half the adult population of the USA had problems with one or more spellings in a test of ten everyday words. One in three admitted being reliant on spell checkers for tasks such as completing job application forms or writing important letters and men performed less well than women.

An independent survey conducted by Ipsos MORI in January 2009, on behalf of the Spelling Society, shows that adults in the USA, consistently performed badly in a spelling test using ten everyday words.

Results were compared with a similar survey undertaken in the UK in 2008 by ID Factor. 'Embarrassed' topped the incorrect list with 62% miss-spelling this word in the USA compared to 54% in the UK. Adults in the USA consistently performed less well on all the ten words tested. Interestingly, in both surveys men performed less well than women. Women may celebrate here, but should also know that the only word that men spelled better than women in the USA was 'liaison'!

Spelling Society Chairman, Jack Bovill said: "When asked, only a quarter of adults thought they had a problem with spelling. The results show - this is far from the case. This lack of awareness is pertinent to the Spelling Society whose aim is to raise awareness of the problems caused by the irregularity of English spelling."

Professor Edward Baranowski, of California State University pointed to the 'fossilized system' in place as part of the problem. "We have different spellings for the same sound (especially for vowels), silent letters, missing letters, and a system which reflects how English was spoken in the 13th-15th centuries, not how it is spoken today. So many sound changes have occurred in the language, which are not reflected in modern spelling, that we are left with a 'fossilized' system. Perhaps if English had had an effective language academy, such as those in France or Spain, this would have been mitigated over time."

The Spelling Society is calling for greater awareness of the problem, including looking at modernizing a system which affects people across all social grades. Chairman Jack Bovill says: "After all we rarely complain about how people speak - what is holding the UK and the USA back is the irregular spelling system?"

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2 comments:

Rikd said...

Embarasd? Quit the doubles!

ozideas said...

Unnecessary spelling difficulties could be stopd by reducing spelling rules to one page. This is possibl with littl change to the appearance of print, as u see here. Ozideas spelling web pages describe one way to do this. The alleged benefits of the unnecessary difficulties help only a few, at the cost of suffering for millions, plus billions in the financial costs. It is in the interests of the press to promote wider literacy, not hinder it.