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Spelling likely to be changed by Internet usage

by: Garry Pierrepont (4 January 2010)

A university professor has suggested that Internet-style spelled words could enter the dictionary within a few decades.

This could include not just popularised short text-message spelling of words such as "2moro" or "thks", but also words that are regularly spelled incorrectly, like "teh" for the or "pwned" for owned, which have taken on a life of their own.

Professor David Crystal of the University of Wales, Bangor, a pioneer of language theory said: "The vast majority of rules in English are irrelevant. They donít stop you understanding the word in question.

"If I spell the word rhubarb without an 'h' you have no trouble understanding it. Why do we spell it with an 'h'? Because some guy in the 16th century said it was good to put an 'h' in to remind us of the history of the word."

Most current spellings were standardised in the 18th century when dictionaries first came into use.

He said that what we consider atrocious now, might become standard in 50 years.

The misspelling of the as "teh" is often now deliberately written by some internet users in sarcastic use such as "teh interweb" to imply ignorance. The use of "pwned" came from the misspelling of owned in an online version of the World of Warcraft game, and has come to mean being dominated by someone or something. Pronunciation may be tricky!

Professor Crystal does, however, say that schools should carry on teaching correct spelling.

"Kids have got to realise that in this day and age, standard English spelling is an absolute criterion of an educated background," he said.

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