The Underground Spelling Conspiracy (USC)

alphebet.gif I guess you could say this is my first official blog on (the other ones don’t count as they were copied and pasted from a previous blog). It’s kind of intimidating actually. I mean there are a lot of great blogs out there…interesting ones even. I guess that is the great thing about technology these days–everyone has a platform. It’s freedom of speech to the the extreme.  This revolution in communication has me wondering lately how fast culture is evolving through these new mediums (Blogs, Facebook, Myspace, MSN, YouTube, etc.).

Recently I got a text message from a teenage girl that took me ages to decipher. First of all, it takes me forever to text someone in the first place and I hear that 13 year old girls are faster at text messaging than stenographers are at typing (I had to take a “typing” class in high school to learn how to do this, now babies learn it as they walk and talk). Secondly, there is an entire language associated with it that I don’t know and I feel like I have to learn in order to keep hip.  The problem is that this new lingo goes against everything in me that was programmed in proper English writing (sorry Mr. Arsenault, it’s a losing battle): spelling bees, grammar drills, and countless hours stressing over whether or not the previous statement was an independent clause.

I wonder if in 25 years our language will have morphed into “MSN” English.  Words like “why” will be replaced by the letter “Y”, and no one will say “Be right back” any longer but instead simply “brb”…and when someone makes a lame joke, everyone will say “l.o.l.” and we will write “C Ya” at the end of all our business memos.  Truly there is an underground spelling conspiracy among us (USC).

Working at a university I already see this happening in some ways. Lots of incredibly smart students have no idea how to spell. We have Spell-Check so who needs to spell anyway? And let’s be honest, that’s a valid point.  In fact, I have a sinking suspicion that the US government is paying pop stars to teach kids to spell. Perhaps they took a poll and realized 75% of teenagers couldn’t spell “banana” so they paid Gwen Stefani to make spelling it cool…then moved on to “delicious” with Fergi, and so on (seriously though, it’s eerie how many pop stars spell a word as their catchy chorus). Or maybe it is just the stars’ attempts to convince the world that they are talented AND smart.

So then what will happen when this generation and the next are in charge of the world I wonder? I predict that the American dictionary will see more evolution in the next 20 years than it has in all of history…but those are just my thoughts. The thoughts of a confused girl stuck between Mr. Arsenault’s English Writing class and her dependence on MSN and Facebook.  The language of the common people is rapidly changing; sorry Eugene Peterson, time to start again.

Thanks for reading my free speech platform.



10 Responses to “The Underground Spelling Conspiracy (USC)”

  1. 2 Teressa May 10, 2007 at 1:43 pm

    I still remember with embarrasement when we starting using an MSN-like system in the office so we could chat with co-workers. The programmers used to type LOL all the time and in my 80’s world that meant Lots of Love so it was really kind of awkward for me! My sister laughed with tears in her eyes when I asked her what LOL meant nowadays…sigh…so much to learn….

  2. 3 Patate May 10, 2007 at 2:23 pm


    Glad to be able to read you regularly!

    Ton ami du Québec

  3. 4 brianmpei May 10, 2007 at 7:12 pm

    You know, not to get all theological, but this is exactly what Lewis predicted in “The Abolition of Man”. He wasn’t for it.

    He WOULD, however, be all for you joining the hardcore blog world! Good on ya!

  4. 5 Tim May 10, 2007 at 7:34 pm

    Hey Shell,

    This is such a great way to learn about my colleague especailly when we live in different parts of the country.

    I’ve always had grammar and spelling issues. I trace this back to my rebellious youth growing up with a Dad who’s alter ego the Grammer Nazi came out any time my syntax slipped ever so slightly. I was an easy target being the young one in the family…I can only remember him attempting to correct Mom’s grammer once or twice interestingly enough…you know her so I don’t need to say more.

    My retribution came fairly recently for all this when I had to explain to him…twice actually what LOL meant. Then I had to show him how to properly wear his Ipod earbuds but that’s another story. He’s got a 30GB, how is that fair?

  5. 6 Rachel May 10, 2007 at 8:24 pm


    I love Fergie, for some reason.

    That is all I have to say (for today).

  6. 7 shelleyperry May 10, 2007 at 9:01 pm

    Dan: thanks for the encouragement! you should be a cheeleader

    Teressa: LOL! BFF baby.

    Brian: C.S. Lewis wrote about MSN?

    Tim: ahh, finally we have the upper hand on our parents!

    Rachel: well at least we know you that you can spell “delicious” and that’s important.

  7. 8 Brianmpei May 10, 2007 at 10:44 pm

    NO, C.S. Lewis wrote about the disintegration of language.

  8. 9 sweetlybroken May 11, 2007 at 11:33 am

    lol, that’s my limit for “text english” I am ashamed and oddly proud to say that I have never texted anyone and I dun’t ned spell chek to spel propoorly!

  9. 10 Rachel May 11, 2007 at 8:58 pm

    I don’t know how to spell delecious. I know how to spell Fergilicious.

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