The Académie Française is tackling French illiteracy by adding 6000 easier spellings to their dictionary. Dictionaries in English can do this too, and make it ‘correct’ to use these easier spellings too. They could cut surplus letters from words – ‘surplus’ to showing meaning or pronunciation and often misleading, e.g. guardian, sieve, literate.
Our dictionaries describe our language – they cannot change what people are saying. But they prescribe our spelling, and we have to spell how they say.
Spelling difficulty is a barrier to literacy for a quarter of the population, and holds back English internationally. Only the winners of spelling bees can spell with confidence in English. Only 20% of spellings are tricky, making all of them unpredictable.
1. Throughout history and in most places the ‘natural’ exercises of men and women has been different, and except for childbirth deaths, women have lived longer. Women don’t need men’s exercise I think.
2. Balance. I am an unbalanced 81 – was I ever any different – but have stakes in the garden and narrow passages in the house, and, for chutzpah, a scooter in the hall. This cuts the opportunity for falls by 80% and raises morale.
3. For every exercise that humans need there is a house-work that provides it, while listening to ABC radio talks and thinking about inventions to exercise the brain at the same time.
i.e., when convenient do not use petrol or electric appliances, but walk, carpet-sweep and broom-sweep, manual lawn-mow, use buckets to save grey water for toilet and garden, shop with a shopping-jeep, garden to grow food, hand dish-wash, launder by hand or with a twin-tub, rake not leaf-blow and even slice foods by hand.
And keep the wonderful labour-saving appliances when they ARE really needed – the dishwashers, airconditioners, central heating, automatic washing machines, motor-mowers, cars . .
It seems crazy to have to go to gyms while saving labour by using appliances when they are not really needed.
20 3 2010
Migrants are caught in two great injustices – the countries that want them in order to keep wages low in manual and semi-skilled jobs, and the injustices that make them flee their home countries.
Low wages for essential industries are an anomaly; top salaries are thousands of times the lowest paid.
We could do more to help people in countries the migrants come from – the sums spent on armaments the world over, corruption, preventing them building up sustainable industries to keep them to producing commodities we want cheap, foreign or corrupt ownership of resources, and lack of family planning.
In the middle ages, the Jews had a role to fill a gap in a low-regarded industry (usury) and today’s migrants to fill a gap in low-regarded industries (manual and semi-skilled).
King Sejong of Korea’s Hangul (Great Letters)
The story of King Sejong’s Hangul writing system, as told to me by Koreans, is salutary for our attitude to the unnecessary difficulties in English spelling in the face of our large literacy problem. King Sejong ‘took pity on the common people’ and wished they could express their thoughts in writing, as his motive for introducing Hangul. Immediately King Sejong died, the Sino-educated mandarins banned it, on the specific grounds that it enabled the common people to read and write. Only the Court women, denied education, kept it up among themselves. In the nineteenth century, nationalists revived it, with the support of Western traders and missionaries because it was so easy, and in 1945 it was made the official writing system again. It enabled literacy that played a large part in the phenomenal rise of Korea as an industrial nation, after its semi-medieval state beforehand plus the devastation of the war. October 9 is celebrated as Hangul Day, and at one stage was even a public holiday.