Friday, November 22, 2013


My wife and I play SCRABBLE almost every day with lunch.  I am not a great speller, so she usually wins.   As I lay out my words I am constantly reminded how fucked up our written language is.   I feel that language in most cases is to communicate and as long as the central idea is transmitted all the petty mechanics are like thorns on a rosebush: unnecessary. 

For instance, I would drop the requirement for a U following a Q: Qeen – Qack – Qake – Qeer all seem to work fine.

And the letter C bugs me.  Why the hell do we need a C in our alphabet?  You could easily replace it with a K on 90% of the words and it would sound the same - and K is a prettier letter.   On the few words where C doesn't sound right an S would work fine. 

Once you start playing SCRABBLE regularly you can see the possibility of cutting down our alphabet from 25 to perhaps 16 or 18 letters.

When I taught creative writing to my students in Alaska I never corrected their spelling.  I wanted them to write – to get their ideas down on paper – to enjoy telling a story – to write write write, and not be inhibited by the fear of being criticized for their misspellings.   The final edit is what spell checkers are for.  

The Ol’Buzzard 


  1. I'm the world's worst Scrabble player but a good speller. See? It makes no difference.

  2. OB,
    Writing is becoming a lost skill - People are used to texting and email. I seen Jr officers who could not prepare a simple memo for record.
    We sent every new officer on wing staff to the USAF Effective Writing Course.



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