Spelling and Society: The Culture and Politics of Orthography around the World
Spelling matters to people. In America and Britain every day, members of the public write to the media on spelling issues, and take part in spelling contests. In Germany, a reform of the spelling system has provoked a constitutional crisis; in Galicia, a 'war of orthographies' parallels an intense public debate on national identity; on walls, bridges and trains globally, PUNX and ANARKISTS proclaim their identities orthographically. The way we spell often represents an attempt to associate with, or dissociate from, other languages. In Spelling and Society, Mark Sebba explores why matters of orthography are of real concern to so many groups, as a reflection of culture, history and social practices, and as a powerful symbol of national or local identity. This 2007 book will be welcomed by students and researchers in English language, orthography and sociolinguistics, and by anyone interested in the importance of spelling in contemporary society.
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2 Orthography as social practice
Figure 21 Graffiti at a Dublin bus stop 1999
3 Language contact linguists and the
4 Postcolonial Orthographies
7 Why do we spell?
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Page 13 - Literacy is not simply knowing how to read and write a particular script but applying this knowledge for specific purposes in specific contexts of use.
Page 15 - This conservative or antiquarian bias can perhaps be best appreciated by contrasting it with fully phonetic writing; for phonetic writing, by imitating human discourse, is in fact symbolizing, not the objects of the social and natural order, but the very process of human interaction in speech: the verb is as easy to express as the noun ; and the written vocabulary can be easily and unambiguously expanded. Phonetic systems are therefore adapted to expressing every nuance of individual thought, to...
Page 15 - ... and so, it may be surmised, was the nature of the writing system itself. For pictographic and logographic systems are alike in their tendency to reify the objects of the natural and social order; by so doing they register, record, make permanent the existing social and ideological picture.
Page 15 - ... written vocabulary can be easily and unambiguously expanded. Phonetic systems are therefore adapted to expressing every nuance of individual thought, to recording personal reactions as well as items of major social importance. Non-phonetic writing, on the other hand, tends rather to record and reify only those items in the cultural repertoire which the literate specialists have selected for written expression ; and it tends to express the collective attitude towards them. The notion of representing...