Am hesitating to write this because I might make a spelling error! :-)
Am a mother of a dyslexic daughter who is gifted visually by way of her
movie-making and photography. She is fleeing Quebec to attend Ryerson in
Toronto because she says she has been humiliated enough about trying
unsuccessfully to learn French.
Perhaps she got her dyslexic genes from me, because when under a lot of
stress I can't properly spell either. Or is it aging brain cells, or too
much LSD in my 20s?
I have students like this too, and I see how they struggle, and I feel for
them. We take our literacy skills so for granted. This summer while teaching
my Arthurian literature course, I had an adult student so passionately
well-versed in Medieval history and art, he literately team taught the
course with me. But when he handed in his paper, my first reaction was
"Oops---what is this?" It was full of spelling errors and was even missing
pieces of syntax. What to do? I spoke with him, and he informed me of his
long term struggles with dyslexia and language processing. Still he was the
most knowledgeable, the most committed, the star student. How do you grade a
person like this? I graded him for his passion and his ability to animate
the other students and involve himself in our course. Spelling be damned!
My mother knew all the Latin names for the constellations in the Northern
Hemisphere and all those for the flora and fauna in our region. She took me
on many nature walks during the day and star-gazing ones at night. I was in
awe. The Latin and Greek she learned in her backwoods Maine school certainly
help her do her cross-word puzzles in her later years.... Too bad these
languages, which determine how a great deal of English is spelled, are
My 2 cents, Charlotte Hussey
On 8/28/08 2:43 PM, "Tosh Tachino" <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> I agree with many of you about the following points: 1) Spelling is
> rhetorical (i.e., not correctness), 2) Spelling is genre-dependent, 3)
> Spelling has consequences, and 4) Spelling functions as a social (or cultural)
> But I want to extend the point that Rick made about comma splices. Like the
> lawyer's *conscious* use of comma splices, there are many situations where
> non-standard spelling is called for. Hackers, for example, use "z" instead of
> "s" for plural nouns to assert their identities. IM users insist on using
> various non-standard (but somewhat systematic) spelling to demonstrate their
> competence/familiarity with the net/popular culture (e.g. "pwn'd" for "owned,"
> "n00bs" for "newbs" -- btw., lexical choice goes along with orthography.)
> Like Rob says, these non-standard spellings count as a cultural capital and
> are worth more in these specific, "local markets" (ref. to Bourdieu).
> In our writing classrooms, on the other hand, our local markets value the
> standard orthography (along with different kinds of lexicon, syntax, etc.),
> and I would want my students to understand and make their writing reflect that
> value system (by using the standard spelling).
> On a related note, I can think of several legitimate uses of non-standard
> spelling in writing classrooms. We could contrast documents in standard vs.
> non-standard spelling to discuss genre appropriateness, the rhetorical nature
> of spelling, etc. Also, strategic use of non-standard spelling by us (writing
> teachers who are not expected to use non-standard spelling) can signal
> solidarity with students.
> Tosh Tachino, Ph.D.
> Assistant Professor
> Rhetoric, Writing, and Communication
> University of Winnipeg
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