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From:  "Angus B. Grieve-Smith"
Date:  Wed Jun 28, 2000  9:24 pm
Subject:  Re: standardized spellings

On Wed, 28 Jun 2000, Valerie Sutton wrote:

> So I guess all dictionaries would not be necessary, since no word
> would have a set way to be spelled? Absolute freedom of spelling - I
> would love that!! I wish other people could accept that -

Dictionaries are helpful for people learning a language (like
ASL) or a writing system (like SignWriting). But as long as people can
figure out your spelling without too much trouble, you shouldn't have to
follow the dictionary.

> Why do you spell the way you do? Are you conforming to society? And is
> that descrimination against you, that you and I both choose to spell
> "you" the same way?

Yes, I am conforming. I don't think there's much point in being a
spelling rebel, and I happen to have a good memory for spellings, so I
haven't experienced discrimination. But just because I conform to some
arbitrary rules of hearing society doesn't mean that, as a linguist, I
would recommend that the Deaf replicate the same arbitrary rule system in
their own society.

> Actually the real reason why I bring the standardized spelling issue
> up is that I got the feeling that people wanted dictionaries that told
> them how to write signs. I started to feel pressured to give everybody
> everything immediately.

I'd guess that that was mostly people who didn't know SignWriting
well? My guess is that if they felt confident in their own spellings,
they wouldn't need to get received spellings from you. But maybe you're
right, and they just want to get it from an authority.

Again, I think dictionaries can be very useful, and I encourage
people to create them. I just would be unhappy if I saw people pointing
to dictionaries and telling people not to sign or write a certain way. Or
worse, telling people that they are lazy or stupid because they spell a
certain way.

-Angus B. Grieve-Smith
Linguistics Department
University of New Mexico

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