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Min God Spellynge

Min God Spellynge

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Published by davidwalters
"And thouh my cage forged were of gold.
And the pynaclis of berel & cristall,I remembre a prouverbe seid of old,
'Who lesith his fredam, in soth, he lesit all
For I haue leuer vpon a braunche small
Meryly to syng among the woodis grene,
Than in a cage of siluer briht and shene.

"And thouh my cage forged were of gold.
And the pynaclis of berel & cristall,I remembre a prouverbe seid of old,
'Who lesith his fredam, in soth, he lesit all
For I haue leuer vpon a braunche small
Meryly to syng among the woodis grene,
Than in a cage of siluer briht and shene.

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Published by: davidwalters on Apr 01, 2013
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MIN GOD SPELLYNGE
By David Arthur Walters"And thouh my cage forged were of gold.And the pynaclis of berel & cristall,I remembre a prouverbe seid of old,'Who lesith his fredam, in soth, he lesit allFor I haue leuer vpon a braunche smallMeryly to syng among the woodis grene,Than in a cage of siluer briht and shene."Song & prisoun haue noon accordance,Trowistow I wole syngen in prisoun?Song procedith of ioie & plesaunce,And prisoun causith deth & destruccionRyngyn of ffeteris makith no mery sounOr how shold he be glad or iocounde,Ageyn his wil that lith in cheynes bounde?"--John Lyndgate's 'The Churl and the Bird"--Many if not most people believe written English as spelled is quite good enough, despite itsfailure to faithfully represent spoken words as sounded, therefore they would have our words asspelled set in stone. In fact, spell-checking programs are doing just that, much to the satisfaction
 
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of many editors, including one who recently declared in a popular writer's digest that heautomatically rejects unread any and all articles with spelling mistakes because he assumes anygood writer will have and use a typewriter or computer with a spell-checking program. I noticedthe pernickety editor had an ugly habit of hyphenating compound adjectives placed after thenoun being modified, using, for example, "Those people are English-speaking." instead of,"Those people are English speaking."Spell-checking computer programs certainly demonstrate how widespread the tyranny of a top-down technocracy subservient to the power elite has become. Such programs are subjects of nosmall moment: they are evidence of the dwindling freedom of individuals who have become soinured to being welcome mats for changes imposed by a small minority; they still believe theylive in a free country.Long before the advent of automatic spell-checkers, the great Havelock Ellis made these remarksabout the modern obsession with standardized spelling:"We may find an illustration of the plebian anchyolosis of advancing civilisation in the minor matter of spelling....Anaemic ages cannot endure creative vitality even in spelling, and so itcomes about that in periods when everything beautiful and handsome gives place tomanufactured articles made wholesale, uniform, and cheap, the same principles are applied towords, and spelling becomes a mechanic trade." (THE DANCE OF LIFE, Boston: Houghton,1923)I was recently reprimanded at length for deliberately misspelling "strange" as "straunge", for special effect in my essay 'Grammar.' In that essay, I used the term "grammar" in its broadestsense, as comprising the best of what has ever been said. That best, when originally declared, isoften contrary to vulgar opinion. It represents a personal struggle for freedom. True, that struggleis by means of the common currency of language. But that common language is alive when at its best, thus new coins of different denominations and faces are minted for the purchase of  previously unheard of goods by and from heretofore unknown persons.Tragically, in our natural eagerness to imitate and conform, many of us do not realize therewould be no common language or society to speak of without the individual struggle against it,for absolute conformity to society would cause it to perish forthwith. Therefore, in my essay, Ialluded to grammar as mother's milk, and advised grammarians, once nourished, to rebel. It is bymeans of its rebellion, its screaming and kicking, that the child learns to know itself. In India, for example, if we trace back our grammar to the first cry, we find the source of all words in "Om"(AUM). We find 'mukta', or liberation, in the infinite regress. Incidentally, the wisest men andwomen in India do not trust the written word for their wisdom, but rely on hearing the revealedword (sruti) voiced by bona fide spiritual masters.My severe critic took me to task for my little written speech on grammar. First of all, he admittedto "just scanning" my words. Then he said that spelling is just the structure of letters in words,that grammar is just the structure of words in sentences, and that this is all determined by society.He stated however, that a "fool may sway public opinion." He concludes with, "So I am sayingyou should conform to how current society wants you to say/spell the words." When I objectedto his attitude, which is tantamount to blasphemy if god be freedom, he broke off 
 
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communications with me, much to my chagrin. My consolation is that, in his conformity, herebels against my dissidence.Spelling seems to be such a prosaic subject that one might think that everything worth sayingabout it has already been said. But it has not been said in every way it can be said, and it never will be. Spelling will only be set in stone over the dead bodies of spellers.There is something magical about spelling, something that casts a spell down through the agesthat all may read and tell the old tales while adding their own charm to the gospels. Spelling isnot merely the writing down of a series of arbitrary signs called "letters of the alphabet". MayIsis, who invented writing in Egypt, forbid! Nor is grammar merely a conventional structure of spelled words. May the Gramarye be restored to its proper place as a magic book of spells! Yes,indeed, may the gospelers live forever in our land.To recapture the full-bodied flavor of our word 'spelling', we may peruse the MIDDLEENGLISH DICTIONARY (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan, 1989) for a few examplesderived from the old verb spelled 'spellen', or, if you prefer, 'spelle, spele, spelien, spelie, spilen'and so on.Spellen may be used in the sense to talk, or to tell a story, or to preach. In the sense of talking,here are two examples: "What helpeth lenger for to spelle?" And "It is trouth that ye neuen, Ihard hym well spell." In the sense of telling a story, we have "Fil me a cuppe of god ale, And ywile drinken her y spelle." As for preaching, we have "A fals man began to spell..And gert menfall in heresie."Spellen can also mean to mean, to interpret, or to read or write. Take this example for the latter case: "Bot, if yee self willi be blind, Your aun bok yee can noght spell."Then we have the verb-noun form, "spelling", which can mean the act of speaking, or the facultyof speech, or the casting and reciting of spells, or the act of preaching. When it comes to castingspells, I like "With spellinge of hir charmes Sche tok Eson in bothe hire armes And made himforto slepe faste." As for preaching, observe "Dauyd saide in his spellynge That Truthe sholde bein erthe growynge to vs byer of alle thynge."In these examples we can see also the fallacy of the view that dictonaries give a precisedefinition of words. When I stated in my essay "Grammar" that I meant 'grammar' in its broadsense, my prejudiced critics immediately lept to the narrowest sense. I love what George P.Marsh said on this subject, in his THE ORIGIN AND HISTORY OF THE ENGLISHLANGUAGE (New York, Scribner, 1885):"It is futile to attempt to make that absolute which is, in its nature, relative and conditional, toformulate that which in itself does not constitute an individual and complete idea, to maketechnical definition a mouthpiece for words which ought to by allowed to speak for themselves by exemplification, and to petrify them into a rigidity of form irreconcilable with that play of feature which is so essential to life-like expressiveness....The signification of the vocabulary belonging to the higher workings of the mind and heart depends on the context, and thereforethese words have almost as many shades of meaning as they have possible combinations withother words in periods and phrases."

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