Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The origin and meaning of words

I'd say I was good at spelling. The fact that there is more than one way of spelling "right" doesn't bother me at all. So I was interested in a poem sent in to the Daily Mail by a reader this week.
His gripe was that he couldn't see why we had to have different spellings for words that sound the same
Cues & queues
Juice & deuce
Brews & bruise
Chews & choose
Hues & hews

I could add
Right and write and wright and rite

The point is that the English language has its roots (routes?) in more than one language, and the spelling will give you (yew, ewe) a clue as to its meaning.
Standardising the spelling would make it more difficult to understand what is meant.
For instance. there is a reason why "counsellor" and "councillor" are spelt differently. They describe different jobs and functions
A counsellor is someone who gives advice, who counsels.
A councillor is a member of a local government council.

I work in a solicitor's office and I come across examples of using the wrong spelling of a word almost every day. Because people do not understand that correct spelling is important, there is always the likelihood that using the wrong word will convey a meaning contrary to what was intended. That could be very expensive.

There is a reason for the different spellings. Trying a one size fits all approach to spelling will never work.

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