Spelling and Society: The Culture and Politics of Orthography around the World

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  1. The Culture and Politics of Orthography around the World
  2. Spelling and Society by Mark Sebba
  3. Spelling and Society

Sebba explains in chapter 3 the role bilinguals have in shaping orthographies. In the case of writing systems such as Manx, Sranan Tongo and modern English, for example, he explains that literate bilinguals bring new writing conventions from their first language, which influence how they write their second language. Chapter 4 illustrates how post-colonial changes experienced by many language communities are associated with national identity and language ideology and how orthographic changes can be a symbolic rejection of colonial mastery p.

Sebba also addresses attitudes toward borrowing of words in this chapter inasmuch as the acceptance of loan vocabulary is arguably at the heart of colonial relationships between powerful and less powerful languages p.

The Culture and Politics of Orthography around the World

Chapter 5 introduces five problems for the orthography of unstandardized languages: According to Sebba, while unstandardized forms may be deviant from the standard forms, they can also be systematic on their own. Chapter 6 discusses issues and challenges related to the reform of an already established orthography. Sebba argues that it is uncommon to replace or even modify an established orthography because of certain social, economic, and linguist reasons.

The chapter also illustrates different fields of discourses that are usually part of the orthographic reform, such as modernization, cultural heritage, conformity, and pedagogy. The concluding chapter, chapter 7, reiterates the message that spelling is not merely a skill users of a certain script need to master. Instead, it can also be a signifier of social identity, a marker of language ideology, and even a symbol of political or religious power. In this book, Sebba summarizes an impressive number of cases and examples of orthographic development and reforms.

One shortcoming that arises as a result is the overuse of block citations; though useful, they interrupt the flow of the otherwise elegantly written text. Readers who lack technical knowledge of worldwide orthographies may also miss the details contained in the many examples Sebba provides. Nevertheless, Spelling and Society makes a significant contribution to sociolinguistics and literacy studies as one of the most comprehensive works on social perspectives of spelling and orthography, a largely neglected research area.

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Developing Orthographic Sensitivity

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Spelling and Society by Mark Sebba

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Spelling and Society

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