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Dr Alistair Brown | Associate lecturer in English Literature; researching video games and literature

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Through exploring the psychopathology of Capgras syndrome, in which a patient mistakes a loved one for an imposter, The Echo Maker offers a sustained meditation on the ways in which we project our own problems onto other people. As a reflection on the mysteries of consciousness, the novel offers some interesting if not especially new insights into the fuzzy boundaries between scientific and literary interpretations of the mind. Read more

Write or Rong?

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Riting in the Times Higher Education, Ken Smith argues that we shud axept students' spelling mistakes as simply varient uses of the language, and relax our marking. [Enough of this comedic mispelling - it's quite hard, you know! I imagine spacemen feel similar to how I do now, when they have to train themselves to wee in their spacesuits.]

Smith notes how fed up university teachers are with marking and correcting the same mistakes year after year, compensating for an impoverished lower education system. His plan is to "put 20 or so of the most commonly misspelt words in the English language on the same footing as those other words that have a widely accepted variant spelling." So, for example, the Old English "twelth" is as acceptable as "twelfth"; "their" can be accepted in the form of "there" or "thier," since the former would make no difference to the meaning of a sentence and the latter is more logical under the "i before e" rule; "opertunity" is admissable, because it derives from the Latin "obportus," with only one "p."

Naturally, in the comments section, the hands went up faster than a Mexican wave at the Olympics, horrified at his acquiescence to linguistic arbitrariness. Most of them completely missed the fact that Ken Smith probably had his tongue so far in his cheek as he wrote this, that his jaw would have been aching by the end. This is Summer silly season in the press, after all. Come September, it will be back to the same old red pen routine. And jolly good too - the risk of confusing "Let's shoot there son" with "Let's shoot their son?" could be a more serious shade of red than a corrective mark on the page.


Posted by Alistair at 7:42 am


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