Over the weekend some friends kept a group of us entertained with their list of potential names for a soon to be expected bundle of joy.
What people would think of the name, potential nicknames and other couples who’d “baggsed the name” were all key considerations.
But curiously, how that preferred name was spelled did not come into the equation at all.
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This morning I read this interesting piece from the SMH Readers’ Editor about spelling and grammatical errors in copy.
I read it on an iPad on my way to work at news.com.au. These two facts are worth mentioning because they both reveal an important truth: I’m a product of the digital age. In six-and-a-half years as a journalist I’ve never worked at a newspaper. Nor a magazine. I’m a digital journalist and I’ve only ever written for online outlets.
The point is this: we don’t have the backbenches and traditional subs’ desks of old, which did a great job of picking up on mistakes. In the online game being first is everything. We’re all sticklers for clean copy and publishing stories free of errors and typos is paramount. But being first with a yarn is usually paramounter. I know that’s not a word. Just go with it.
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The computer has cleaned up poor handwriting by eliminating it. Everyone can now write in a legible font and everyone, now, can spell. If they can’t, they’ve been ignoring the wavy red underscore on any questionable word.
The handwritten letter and the polite thank-you card have fled to the outskirts. For some, this is a cause for lament. A letter in ink meant someone had gone to a deal of trouble, for you.
They have been replaced with the email or the SMS, but the news is that people are writing more. We are also reading more. We may be reading junk, but we are more literate than ever.
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The late Josie Hankin was by all accounts a much-loved lady who led a full and happy life. Sadly she is now at peas. That’s what the card on one her wreaths said. Not just “peas” but “Rast in peas”.
The florist in question, Bunch After Bunch in the Melbourne suburb of Ormond, was unmoved by the complaints from Ms Hankin’s grieving niece, whose transcribed bereavement message came with the added insult of referring to “Anty” Josie.
The owner, who gave his name only as Arthur, said he employed several people for whom English was a second language. Regardless, he said it was the job of his staff job to sell flowers, not spell properly. “We supply flowers - good flowers,” Arthur said. “We are not card writers.”
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Welcome to Monday at The Punch.
Here’s a historical tidbit for the word-nerds out there. A proposal to simplify English spelling passed a second reading in the British parliament today in 1953; with the aim of making spelling easier for young children.
What’s on your mind? Share it here.
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Next time you update your Facebook status or send off an email without checking for spelling errors, think of the children and pick up a hard cover dictionary.
A recent study by the University of Manchester has found that thanks to our predilection for communicating online, we’re raising an entire generation of bad spellers:
“The increasing use of variant spellings on the internet has been brought about by people typing at speed in chatrooms and on social networking sites where the general attitude is that there isn’t a need to correct typos or conform to spelling rules, “ said Lucy Jones, the author of the study.
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There’s no way to tell how this appeared in real-time, because it was an invitation-only event, but the transcript of Australia’s first live webchat with Kevin Rudd is strewn with spelling mistakes and errant or non-existent punctuation in the Prime Minister’s messages.
The first sentence from the most powerful man in the country, guardian of our trillion-dollar economy: Hi PM here lets get going with this Nearly a thousand people contributed ton the climate change
Which makes you wonder: will live blogging exercise be extended ton other ministers?
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