Living in Washington, D.C., I have seen a decade-full of protests. They’re such regular occurrences here that I don’t really notice what people are protesting any longer. I’ll walk or drive-by the gathering crowd, oblivious to their message, and continue on my way. Except this weekend, a very small crowd of people protesting in front of a hotel, instead of on the National Mall or in front of the White House, caught my attention.
Late last week and into the weekend was the Scripps National Spelling Bee. It was held at The Grand Hyatt in downtown D.C., and the competition drew hundreds of spellers, their families, media crews, and (much to my surprise) protesters. The demonstrators gathered in front of the hotel were adamant supporters of phonetic spelling, what they call Simplified Spelling. From a Washington Post article covering the protests:
The protesters believe English is mired by too many spellings for identical sounds and too many sounds for identical spellings. If they got their way, “you” would become “yoo,” “believe” would become “beleev” and “said” would become “sed.”
The cost of clinging to traditional spellings, they say, is millions of illiterate English speakers who struggle to read signs or get good jobs, and billions of dollars in lost productivity.
The campaign for simple spelling, which activists say started more than 100 years ago, is experiencing a revival with kids who have taken wholeheartedly to phonetic spelling in electronic messages.
I’ve never thought about non-phonetically spelled words in English as a distraction, so I don’t personally consider them clutter. However, I find it delightful that there is a group of people on a mission to rid the English language of what they believe is spelling clutter. Check out the video of the protests on the Washington Post website to learn more about the mission of supporters of Simplified Spelling. (And please, don’t worry, I have no intentions of adopting Simplified Spelling practices on Unclutterer. I can’t imagine how much my productivity would tank trying to phonetically spell an entire vocabulary of words.)