minimumThe scribbles on the right are not just doodles, a badly drawn rough sea or an attempt by a 5-year-old to emulate grown-ups’ fascinating handwriting. A real adult has written a real word here: minimum.

Even if you had figured that out for yourself, you’ll agree it’s not easily legible. That’s due to a shortcoming in our alphabet: the similarity between hand-written i, n, u and m. In many words confusion is never far away, which is why monks, clerks and other writers have come up with all sorts of clever tricks. Continue reading

English spelling – a limerical review

The Lingo chapter about Scottish Gaelic is rather critical of Gaelic spelling. English, however, is worse. To illustrate the point, here’s a silly limmeric – sorry, limerick.

Up in Scotland, a sceptical Celt
Told his mates, ‘All my life, I have felt
That if Celt is with C
Kilt as well ought to be.
And I wonder why whiscy’s misspelt.’