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Wednesday 10 April 2019

Spelling Reform: A Progress Report

Considerable progress has been made in the past year towards the goal of ensuring that the word **** is spelt **** in all printed and online media. With one exception, major news organisations have co-operated fully with our campaign to standardise the spelling of **** as ****. Previous partial reforms which led to a proliferation of variants (most commonly f*ck, f**k, f*** ) were deemed unsatisfactory by the Office for the Reform of Spelling and we can report general agreement that these variants should be phased out. However, when recently a well-known troublemaker called on his supporters to “**** Business” his words were persistently reported in old spelling by the Financial Times; we put pressure on this Japanese-owned organisation but achieved only limited success. In contrast, OFFRESP welcomes Mr Corbyn's decision to refer to the troublemaker's “Anglo-Saxon word”, which in our view helps educate citizens into understanding that the Anglo-Saxons were on the wrong side of history.

We have made great progress in correcting online resource spellings. Thus, for example, an attention seeking poet, some years ago, wrote a “poem” about mothers and fathers, alleging that they “**** you up”. We found many online versions of this silly claim which continued to use the poet’s original spelling and others which used three, two or even just one star. However, when we pointed out that all these versions would be blocked by our latest Child Protection software, most online sources fell into line with the correct **** spelling. We are now considering whether a similar policy should be extended to the coarse “you up”, which would yield a first line of the poem reading, "Your Mum and Dad, they **** *** **".

But problems do persist, especially because of our current inability to control what are known as graffiti “artists”. For example, in a study authorised at the highest level, sixty school pupils at Key Stage One (5 to 7 years old), were asked to spell aloud ****. Ninety percent responded with  “Fir, Uh, Curly Cur, Kicking Cur” and ten percent proposed “ Fir, Uh, Kicking Cur”. None were unable to complete the task. When asked to write down the word, ten percent expressed reluctance to do so; of those who did write down, none used **** and forty percent wrote their letters very large with double outlines showing the clear influence of graffiti “artists”. Some of the pupils seemed to be pleased with their efforts which they coloured in and showed, not only to our testers but to their friends. We repeat the argument advanced in our previous report, that this disastrous state of affairs can only be improved if there is a complete ban on the sale of aerosol paint cans.

A main purpose of spelling reform is to protect the young, and though it is admirable that the elderly readers of popular newspapers are spared the old spellings, it is really the young with whom we should be concerned. All the evidence is that they are in clear and present danger.

In our next report we will look at progress in the reform of the spelling of ****, ****, *** and ********.  

© Trevor Pateman 2019. First published here April 2019

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