I'm a "siccophant"
December 19, 2013 J. P. Holding

I'm a "siccophant"

Posted in Forum Post
Some time ago, on YouTube, an atheist called me a “siccophant”.
At about the same time,  my ministry partner Nick Peters alerted me to an item titled “Teaching Taco Bell’s Canon” by James Courter. It speaks well to the problem exemplified by this incident:
One big problem is that so few students are readers. As an unfortunate result, they have erroneous, and sometimes hilarious, notions of how the written language represents what they hear. What emerged in their papers and emails was a sort of literary subgenre that I’ve come to think of as stream of unconsciousness.


Courter documents several hilarious spelling errors of the same sort: “inclimate weather,” “poultry excuse,” “halfhazard error,” and so on. Courter concludes:


Among students’ biggest complaints is that they have to write so much in college. In his end-of-semester evaluation, one honest soul complained that “writhing gives me fits.” Sad to say, it’s not uncommon to hear students remark on how much they look forward to being done with English.


Who knows what language they’ll use then?


Indeed not. Courter has pinned the obvious problem: Students are not readers — or at least, not readers of literature that would help them properly spell words like sycophant. Even a modest reader of worthwhile literature would see that, and words of similar grade, several times within a few years. The implied conclusion is that these students have only heard the word, and have never read it. They listen (and watch) far more than they read.

My mindset is such that I lose patience trying to watch a YouTube video because I can read much faster than I can watch or listen. I think that is at it should be when it comes to doing serious research. Scholarship is not hospitable to persons who are not readers by practice. It’s not just spelling that will go awry under those conditions.

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