By the time I come to respond, I find that others have more eloquently said most of my points about rhetorical situation and attention to the audience.
Two other points that I find useful to make to students and others who complain about stoopid English spelling:
1. I try to point out how much of English spelling *is* logical: how double consonants make a vowel short, for example, and a silent e makes one long. My students don't seem to have been taught any of this in school, so it's new and they think I'm brilliant when I point it out. Similarly, I point out how and why spelling mistakes often arise in unstressed syllables. Again, they think that's kind of interesting, though they are likely to roll their eyes if I get passionate.
2. I also like to show how some of the apparent peculiarities (stoopidities) of English spelling are a window into the history of the language. A little etymology doesn't mollify those peepul who reelly think spelling ot to be lojikal and consistent, but it does take the edge off the theory that standard spelling is a conspiracy to make students' lives miserable invented and perpetuated by fanatics-who-ought-to-get-a-life.
Good luck, Ginny!
Susan Drain, PhD
Department of English
Mount Saint Vincent University
Halifax, NS Canada B3M 2J6
902 457 6220
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