Currently, Yahoo has a story on its front page about Theodore Roosevelt High School in Washington D.C. The school’s sports teams are nicknamed “Rough Riders,” and for the past several years, the basketball team has had the single word “Riders” on the front of its jerseys. Not this year, though. This year the players are sporting jerseys that say “Ryders,” as in The Ryder Cup or Ryder Trucks or perhaps Ruff Ryders, none of which is traditionally associated with Teddy Roosevelt or the 1st United States Volunteer Cavalry. The best part of the story is the explanation/excuse that the jersey vendor gave the basketball coach: Ryders is the “cool” way to spell it.
Look, okay, we all know that English spelling is a bit wonky. Granted, traditional spelling gives us an idea of the history and etymology of a word, but it’s kind of a pain. So why not get rid of traditional spelling and give up on the dream of a simplified and phonetically consistent system of spelling. Instead, let’s adopt “cool spellings.” Oh sure, that means that spellings will become faddish and ephemeral. Presumably, language designers will bring out new spelling lines at least twice a year. I think it’s worth it, though. We don’t want other languages to make fun of our frumpy spellings.
ES at Skeptycle Hoomanatees
Shouldn’t they know the cool way to spell it is RyD3Rz?
If the jersey vendor used that as an excuse, it sounds more like a way to get out of remaking them and paying for it.
According to the Yahoo story (and the Washington Post story on which it was based), the vendor said he would replace the jerseys as soon as the team returned the misspelled ones. Of course, that would leave the team without uniforms of any sort in the interim.
Right… let’s just linguistically go back to the sixteenth century, when spelling was pretty much optional. (personal experience… acquired a copy of Philip Henslowe’s diary as background reading for a course on Shakespeare. The spelling, man, the spelling. I’d have gone crazy back then.)
It takes some getting used to. Shakespeare probably lulls people into a false sense of semi-normality since almost all editions use regularized spelling (so you can really concentrate on figuring out what the subject and predicate are). When you happen upon a work in original spelling, it can be off-putting, but only because we are used to spelling rules–however illogical they may seem. If one were used to non-standardized spellings, I suppose it wouldn’t seem odd.
By the way, I’m soooo jealous that you own a copy of Henslowe’s Diary.
And Bob, all things considered, the spelling of Old English isn’t that big a deal. Less weird, in some ways, than Middle English.
Renaissance studies is not for the obsessive compulsive! Oh man, you should try figuring out the vowels in Old English! Hah!
This piece was a lieafcjket that saved me from drowning.
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