50% Americans Can't Spell Simple Words...Can You?

by Tanya Thomas on  February 12, 2009 at 11:09 AM Lifestyle News
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 50% Americans Can't Spell Simple Words...Can You?
A clear majority of America's adult population can't spell simple words like "embarrassed", "liaison" and "millennium"; a new study has found. For a nation that's known for verbal sparring, that's quite embarrassing (did I spell that right?)

According to a study conducted by the London-based Spelling Society, 62 percent of the people find it hard to spell "embarrassed" correctly.

Almost 61 percent failed to spell liaison, while 52 percent misspelled "millennium".

Although American women emerged as better spellers, but members of both sexes struggled with words like "accommodation", "separate", "definitely" and "accidentally".

The study also showed that nearly 78 pct of the men surveyed were unable to spell "friend".

More than half of the women could not get "liaison" right.

Edward Baranowski, a linguist with California State University at Sacramento blames the nature of the English language for the decline.

"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 to 15th centuries, not how it is spoken today," The Washington Times quoted Baranowski as saying.

"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," he added.

The Spelling Society calls for a regular spelling system for the U.S. and Britain.

"Let's allow people greater freedom to spell logically," said John Wells, a linguist with the University College London.

"It's time to remove the fetish that says that correct spelling is a principal mark of being educated. Let's spell logically just as you do in Spanish, Italian or Swedish," he added.

Meanwhile, commonly misspelled words have drawn the ire of dictionary publishers.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, for example, words such as address, beautiful, immediate and skillful are worries for would-be perfectionists.

Source: ANI

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It's pretty sad that someone in such a prestigious position is being called out for holes in logic of what they claimed[that linguist dude mentioned, et. al.]. Also, English is a beautiful language, rich with diversity and a blend of different origins. Why would you want to eradicate that? That's what makes it interesting. And it IS possible to "spell it out". English has tendencies, which are made easier to predict by learning prefixes and suffixes commonly used. And yes, misspellings greatly discredit your argument and distract from the point. If you don't know something, look it up. Care. I am so in line with the other commenters. Kudos.

Don't blame the language. Even the most complex languages can be learned, as we are born with the faculty to pick up anything and make it native. Another reason you can't blame it on the nature of the language is that if I can learn to spell and use grammar correctly, then other people sure as hell can. You've been learning since you were three. Unless you have a learning disability, no excuses. Seriously, it's getting ridiculous in this day and age where education is so lax.


Blaming the language is the easy way out. English is my second language, yet I spell better than 80-90% of americans I know. There is no excuse good enough to justify the misspelling of common, simple words used in everyday conversations. And yes, misspellings detract from your thoughts and make you look like you don't know what you're talking about.


Really? Blaming the English language? You and they only wish it were that easy to get out of the responsibility for bucking up and learning. Let's start with blaming the nation's laziness, apathy, and its pathetic "education" system.


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