The Internet is helping to kill off the English literacy

Receipt without the ‘p’, rhubarb without the ‘h’: How the internet is killing off silent letters

Professor David Crystal says people are dropping letters when typing them into search engines
He says the internet will influence changes in spelling in the future

PUBLISHED: 09:29, 2 June 2013 | UPDATED: 09:58, 2 June 2013

Within 50 years, words will be spelt without silent letters because of the internet, a leading linguist has predicted.

David Crystal, professor of linguistics of Bangor University, explained how people are dropping letters when typing words into search engines such as the ‘p’ in receipt or changing the ‘c’ in necessary into an ‘s’.

The professor began monitoring the word ‘rhubarb’ 10 years ago – with the ‘h’ and without.

A decade ago, the word with the ‘h’ got millions of hits and just one or two when it was spelt ‘rubarb’.

But ten years on, the word without the ‘h’ gets thousands of hits.

Speaking at the Hay Festival, he said: ‘The internet will influence spelling.

‘It will get rid of some letters that irritate us. The letters that instinctively we feel shouldn’t be there.’

The academic also criticised Education Secretary Michael Gove and plans to make schools concentrate on teaching the phonics.

He said the move was ‘absurd’ because the English language was a mix of phonics and words.

A recent study from Cambridge University which was published last month revealed how language is becoming more informal.

The average English child is likely to say the word ‘like’ five times as often as his or her grandparents and the word ‘love’ is used more than six times as often as ‘hate’.

The research was part of the Cambridge English Corpus – one of the biggest collections of words in the English language in the world.

The Corpus contains written and spoken English from books, newspapers, advertising, letters, emails, websites, and recordings of conversations, lectures, TV, meetings, radio and many other sources, totalling several billion words.

Over 20 years, researchers have formed a database which shows there is a decline in the correct use of grammar.
Claire Dembry, from Cambridge University Press, said people are now embracing the different forms of the English language.

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