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MARIN COUNTY'S NEWS MONTHLY - FREE PRESS
(415)868-1600 - (415)868-0502(fax) - P.O. Box 31, Bolinas, CA, 94924

The Atrocity Of English Spelling

LAKEFIELD, ONTARIO - November 19, 2004 - According to Niall McLeod Waldman, the English language has "the worst alphabetic spelling system in the world," which was brought about more by historical events and people than the words themselves. In "Spelling Dearest: The Down and Dirty, nitty-gritty History of English Spelling" (now available through AuthorHouse), he offers an irreverent, witty explanation of what went wrong.

By chronicling the major happenings and minor annoyances that shaped English spelling, he shines some light on why nonsensical spelling rules continue to plague many English speakers. "Spelling Dearest" tracks the evolution of English spelling, from its religious beginnings at the beginning of the sixth century to the "ungodly mess it's in now," Waldman writes. Shocking facts and "dirty little secrets" are revealed as he describes the individuals who helped create (or missed the opportunity to fix) the crippled spelling system. Dr. Samuel Johnson, Benjamin Franklin, Noah Webster and many others had a hand in shaping spelling's "turbulent and traumatic history."

Written in a wildly clever, satirical style, "Spelling Dearest" adopts the attitude of the "little guy fighting back." Waldman weaves quirky personalities, egotistical antics and thorough research to present a rare glimpse at "the worst of the worst spelling systems in the world." He also poses and interesting question: Could complex spelling be the cause of the high number of functional illiterates in the USA and Canada?

In these countries, "seventeen to 24 percent of the adult population is functionally illiterate, whereas in countries with more phonetic spelling systems, such as Finland and Germany, the figures are about half that amount," Waldman writes. "Nothing we've ever done to improve our teaching methods ever closes that gap significantly because we're fighting an uphill battle with downhill skis. We don't have the correct equipment for the task: an easily understandable spelling system."

Light-hearted and entertaining with a serious core, "Spelling Dearest" ignited spirited debate from expert panelists and educated listeners during a recently aired CBC radio program.

Waldman, born and educated in Glasgow, Scotland, immigrated to North America in 1974. Ten years of research and his lengthy association with groups such as the American Literacy Council and Simplified Spelling Society led him to publish "Spelling Dearest". He also created the pen-and-ink illustrations in the book, which provide a visual representation of the key characters involved in the history. For more information, visit http://www.spellingdearest.com

AuthorHouse, founded in 1997, has helped thousands of writers worldwide become published authors. For more information, visit http://www.authorhouse.com

 

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