How is the Internet influencing the evolution of spelling?

Date:8 September 2013 Tags:

60-second genius:

David Crystal, linguist and author.

A: There is more variation in spelling today than ever before. People post spellings online that they think reflect the pronunciations of words, even though the spellings would be considered incorrect according to traditional standards.

Some of these variations are bound to become widely used and even become accepted as standard.

The global community that comprises the Internet may find itself evolving a common spelling system as an expression of online identity, which may then influence offline writing. We see the process taking place already with the dropping of silent letters (many of which were arbitrarily introduced by classicists in the 16th century) offline, such as the “h” in “rhubarb”.

– As told to Alyson Sheppard