May 07, 2011

Special Manifesto: "YUR THER" - A Political Spelling Reformation

"Yur Ther: A Spelling Manifesto"

In the late 18th Century, Noah Webster had a political vision to revolutionize spelling for the American language. Many of his reformations eventually happened, like less-idiotic spellings of ‘color’ & ‘wagon.’ Some of his more radical ideas, like spelling ‘is’ with a ‘z’ like it sounds, never caught on. Although Webster is still lionized as the founding father of American Spelling, we have not continued to adapt after his fashion in the past few centuries. Our pronunciations have continued to evolve, but not our spelling of them. We are constantly adding trendy new words like “omg” & “unfriend” into the dictionary after they become common usage, but never updating spelling to reflect speech. Historically, spelling has been mutable and was constantly in flux for centuries. Between 1564 and 1616, the name Shakepeare was spelled more than twenty different ways in literary and non-literary sources (Shaxberd!) This not because people were stupid or didn’t fact-check the playwright's name, but because spelling was not standardized and it was used more freely as a tool to describe speech.

In the 21st century, things have changed again, and the pendulum is again pendulumming. The youf, as they’re known, when they are texting and IMing, have begun to ignore how words are supposed to be spelled and spell shit however they want. This spelling revolution has seeped into other correspondences and into literature. However, whenever it creeps into the schoolroom or into other written formats, the youf is seen as ignorant, uneducated, sloppy or worse. It’s time to accept this war for what it is! Spelling differences set culture against culture, elite against the democratic masses, generation against generation, race against race, man against man. Language is not a protected tower that only the educated can occupy, it is a chaotic mess of wilderness. Spelling is social, racial, and political.

In this brief manifesto, I propose eliminating the UNCONSTITUTIONAL laws mandating which ‘your’s or ‘there’s are supposed to be used in their elitist “correct” usages. (I realize that there is no “constitution” of the English Language, and therefore said laws cannot be unconstitutional. However, I reject your elitist definition of ‘unconstitutional,’ and like Lewis Carroll’s Humpty Dumpty, I choose to make words mean what I wish them to mean.) For too long now, incorrect uses of ‘your’/’you’re’ and ‘there’/’their’/’they’re’ have caused derision, condescension and patronizing rebukes from haughty rule-followers and narks (I’m looking at you, English teachers.) Many of the people who mess up these rules are intelligent and thoughtful users of language. Many more are not, but they are still human and still honorable members of the unwashed English-speaking hordes. Either way, surely the content is more important than the superficial spelling rules. Even if the content is crap, why should the spelling reflect poorly on the speller’s character? It is social and political discrimination to assume that spelling error makes a man less of a man.

The your/you’re and there/their/they’re rules are CONFUSING and UNREALISTIC. I have many college-educated friends who regularly commit mistakes to this rule, either because they didn’t notice the mistake or didn’t care. Others simply don’t give a butthole. Despite the widespread indifference, every day people are denied jobs or romantic advances on online dating sites because of mixing up their ‘there’s.’ I propose two new accepted words to the English Language: ‘ther’ and ‘yur.’ These are not meant to replace the other “correct” spellings, but to function as accepted stand-ins for the lazy or confused writer, in any public or private, official or unofficial written communication. Therefore their definitions would be as follows:

yur - either ‘your’ or ‘you’re,’ depending on context, or whatever.
ther - either ‘there,’ ‘their,’ or ‘they’re,’ depending on context, which should be easily discernible (hence “context”), so figure it out yourself and leave me alone.
I also propose lobbying congress to enact a Hetorograph Bill to protect citizens who regularly mess up hetographs/homonyms/homographs/heteronyms &c (the "homonymphobic" or "homonymphomaniac") from discrimination in the workplace, job market, and online dating sites.