Monday 13 December 2010

Literary Criticism in the age of information: Digital Humanities

Literary Criticism in the age of information: Digital Humanities

Dilip Barad

The literary theories and criticism has witnessed several shifts in 20th Century. Beginning with 'New Criticism', it ran through 'Reception Theory', 'Stylistics', 'Russian Formalism', 'Structuralism', 'Marxism', 'Psycho-analytical school', post-structuralism', 'Feminism'; along with voices of Modernism, Post-modernism, post-colonialism, cultural studies, new historicism . . . and what not.

All these glasses (spectacles for some) gave us varied ways - colourful most of the times, 'cleared our vision if we have cataract' at times and also concave or convex on several occasions or a rainbow kind of spectrum passing through the prism glass. All these glasses transforms into mirror and we see our own self projected in your reading of literature.

However, it is important to inquire, what is the reason of such turns and twists in the 'studies' of the study of literatures?

Well, what John Wain (though said in some other context) wrote in 'Strength and Isolation: Pessimistic Notes of a Miltonolater' in Frank Kermod's The Living Milton (1960: Routledge) may have some answer to this shifting paradigms of 20th century.
He wrote: "The modern sensibility works in naturally with a medium like the cinema, with its endless fading in and fading out, its tracking, panning and all the rest of the devies for keeping dimension and angle in a continually shifting state . . . Symbolism on the one hand, the cinema on the other; concentration and discontinuity ..."

How far can we blame cinematic habit to these scenario is a debatable issue. But if it has a grain of truth, then what can we think about the sensibility of the man in the age of information - in an era of internet - the digital age - amidst flood of information and constantly changing world/reality? And what sort of theories and critical practices are we to confront in the 21st century?

The reading of these articles can help us make our position more sound and significant in the making and reading of 21st century literature:

  • What Is Digital Humanities and What’s It Doing in English Departments? Matthew G. Kirschenbaum.

  • A New Computer-Assisted Literary Criticism? Raymond G. Siemens
  • Research Prospects in Digital Humanities
  • Matthew Jockers's Macroanalysis: (Down load chapters from the book)
  • Uncharted: Big Data as a Lens on Human Culture
  • Humanities in the Digital Age

  • Marie-Laure Ryan quite categorically argues in ‘Introduction’ Cyberspace Textuality: Computer Technology and Literary Theory: “Computers were once thought of as number-crunching machines; but for most of us it is their ability to create worlds and process words that have made them into a nearly indispensable part of life. If computers are everywhere, it is because they have grown into ‘poetry machines’. The digital revolution of the last decade has let words on the loose, not just by liberating their semantic potential, as most avant-garde movements of the past hundred years have done, but in a physical, quite literal sense as well.” (Ryan). She further remarks which opens up the floodgates for those who wants to research on language on the screen: “Sometimes the words on the loose become malleable substance in our hands, as we grab them with a hand-shaped cursor, move them, erase them, banish and recall them, pull more words form under words, cut them out and paste them into a new context; sometimes they become actors and dancers on the stage of the computer screen, animated by the scropt of an invisible program; sometimes they fail to regroup at the end of their trip, and the screen fills up with garbage, dismembered text, visual nonsense, or surrealistic graphics. Whether we play with them or watch them perform for us, whether we control them or they rebel against us, electronic words never stand still for long, never settle down on a page, even when a copy is sent to the printer; for the printer merely outputs a lifeless replica, as still photograph of objects in motion.” (Ryan).

    Any idea? Please share in comments . . .

    Digital Humanities and Computer Assisted Literary Criticism from Dilip Barad

    Check your progress:

    Click here to appear in online test 

    Activity: (Give your response in the 'Comment' section below this post)

    Works Cited

    Aarseth, Espen. "Aporia and Epiphany in Doom and Speaking Clock: The Temporality of Ergodic Art." Ryan, Marie-Laure. Cyberspace Textuality: Computer Technology and Literary Theory. Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1999. 285.
    Aiden, Erez and Jean-Baptiste Michel. Uncharted: Big Data as a Lens of Human Culture. Global: Penguine, 2013.
    Arnold, Matthew. "The Study of Poetry(1880)." 1909-14. > TheHarvard Classics. 21 Jan 2014 <>.
    Coldewey, Devin. "Data mining the classics makes for beautiful science." 20 Aug 2012. NBC News Technology. 21 Jan 2014 <>.
    Deresiewicz, William. "Professing Literature in 2008." The Nation (11 March 2008).
    Dryden, John. "Of Drammatick Poesy." 1668.
    English, James F. The Global Future of English Studies. First. UK: Wiley-Blackwell, 2012.
    Frye, Northrop. "New Directions from Old." Frye, Northrop. Fables of Identity: Studies in Poetic Mythology. New York: A Harbinger Book, 1963. 264.
    Frye, Northrop. "The Archetypes of Literature." Frye, Northrop. Fables of Identity: Studies in Poetic Mythology. USA: A Harbinger Book, 1963. 264.
    Jockers, Matthew. "Characterization in Literature and the Macroanalysis Lab." 8 Jan 2014. Matthew L. Jockers. 21 Jan 2014 <>.
    —. "Macroanalysis: Digital Methods and Literary History." 2013. University of Illinois Press. 21 Jan 2014 <>.
    Kermod, Frank. 'Strength and Isolation: Pessimistic Notes of a Miltonolater' in The Living Milton (1960: Routledge)
    Kirschenbaum, Matthew G. "What Is Digital Humanities and What’s It Doing in English Departments?" ADE Bulletin (2010): 7.
    Levy, Pierre and Rikka (Tr. from French) Stewen. "Toward Superlanguage." SOH University of California-Irvine. 21 Jan 2014 <>.
    McLemee, Scott. "Crunching Literature." 1 May 2013. Inside Higher Ed. 21 Jan 2014 <>.
    Peacock, Thomas Love. "The Four Ages of Poetry." Literary Miscellany 1820.
    Popova, Maria. "From Galileo to Google: How Big Data Illuminates Human Culture." 17 Jan 2014. 21 Jan 2014 <>.
    Ricoeur, Paul. "Time and Narrative." Chicaco and London VOl III (1988).
    Rockwell, Geoffrey, Peter Organisciak, Megan Meredith-Lobay, Kamal Ranaweera, Stan Ruecker, Julianne Nyhan. "The Design of an International Social Media Event: A Day in the Life of the Digital Humanities." digital humanities quarterly (2012):
    Ryan, Marie-Laure. Cyberspace Textuality: Computer Technology and Literary Theory. Ed. Marie-Laure Ryan. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1999.
    Wikipedia, Contributors. Digital Humanities. 10 Jan 2014. Wikipedia. 21 Jan 2014 <>.

    Tuesday 8 June 2010

    Workshop by KCG on NME-ICT and role of ICT in Higher Education

    Knowledge Consortium of Gujarat (initiation of Department of Education, Govt. of Gujarat) organised one day workshop on 7th June 2010 to orient university and college teachers towards National Mission of Education through Information and Communication Technology (NME-ICT) – a multi-crore project set in motion by Ministry of HRD, Govt. of India.

    The resource persons were invited from IIM-A, IGNOU and Delhi University. I was pleased to be one of the resource persons among such an elite class of educationist. I made presentation on 'How some web 2.0 tools can be used in Continuous Internal Assessment and prepare ePortfolios of students, institutes and teachers'.

    As I have to reach at Amhedabad Management Association, Ahmedabad before 9 am, I left Bhavnagar sharp at 6:20 am. The weather was cloudy and windy.
    The mornings are normally very cool and breezy on the highway towards Ahmedabad. But this morning was gloomy and dark – reminded of the environment created by Shakespeare for the encounter of three witches with Macbeth and Banquo.

    I feared not witches, but equally ill-omened rain and cyclone.
    I drove Zen-Estilo at its highest speed. I cannot run it faster than 160 KMPH. The small cars have their limits.

    I was not able to escape the cyclonic wind and torrent of rain. Soon I was amidst tumultuous outpouring of waters from the sky and tempestuous storm.

    Fortunately, I did not confront any ill-incident and reached AMA safely and before time.

    The AMA campus was fully drenched in rain and presumed a resemblance to newly wed bride. Each and every leaf of the trees, shrubs, bushes and grass were glowing with blissful glisten.

    AMA is one of the most appropriate venues for such academic gatherings. They have fully equipped auditorium and have facilities to manage all the logistics required for seminar, conferences and workshops.

    As I reached a bit early, I got chance to take snaps of the simple, sober and orderly kept auditorium.

    I enjoyed sharing my experience of using some of the web tools for specific purpose like Continuous Internal Assessment and ePortfolio.
    The gist of my presentation was to share an idea regarding internal assessment of students in semester system and use of ICT. With appropriate integration of Web tools (ICT), the teacher can make the classroom live, interactive and full of active participation from students.

    It can open vistas of multiple communication channels in the (virtual) classroom which is normally one way communication (Teacher to Students) in traditional mode of teaching. It can also bring transparency to the internal assessment system as all the assignments, presentations and test records with comments of teachers are available of websites and accessible to everybody. All the students can see what their peers have done and parents can also tract the academic records of their students. This activity of taking learning on the web platform can lead into auto-generation of ePortfolios of not only students, but also of the teacher and the institute. It can be of great help to students when they are out in job market. It can be helpful to teachers in their self appraisals and to the institute, in academic evaluation by external agency like NAAC or ISO. The session ended with some inquisitive questions from the participants.

    Monday 8 June 2009

    Workshop UGC NET / SLET

    This presentation was prepared for the workshop at HMP Institute of English Training and Research, Gujarat (INDIA). It deals with some important questions for the preparation of UGC NET / SLET examination for the qalification of Lecturer. It also gives brief introduction about some important books on Literary Theory and Criticism.

    Wikipedia and Twitter in School Curricula

    ‘UK primary schools to include Twitter and Wikipedia in the curricula’

    It is, in deed, a commendable move. If we want to make our future generation think out of the box, catch them young. Right from their childhood give them web 2.0 tools and let them toy with them. We do not want our next generation to be merely master-users of virtual world. Unlike today’s younger generation, we want them to be ‘creator’ of virtual wealth. We do not want them to be mere ‘users’, we want them to be ‘contributors’ to the wealth of information, knowledge and growing wisdom. To have our future generation to be such, we have to teach them the tricks at early stage of their edu-career.

    Moreover, Wikipedia is free sharing web encyclopedia. By teaching our kids to master such web 2.0 tools, we also teach them moral lesson. We teach them the ethics of sharing FREE. Knowledge is not of sale, information is to be shared with one and all, wisdom is no man’s monopoly, irrespective of class, creed, colour, community or country, it should be shared, contributed and used by one and all. Indian Gurus never patented or copyrighted thier inventions and writings. It was all FREE for the bettermentof human beings. Let us instill Indian traditional ethics in our young generation by giving them reigns of technology.

    Sunday 7 June 2009

    Communication Skills for Teachers - I

    This presentation was presented in the Orientation Programme at Academic Staff College, Gujarat University, Ahmedabad. It deals with some basic communication skills required among the teachers to be effective communicator and efficacious teacher.
    Communication Skills for Teachers
    View more OpenOffice presentations from Dilip Barad.

    The transcript of the presentation:
    • 1. Communication Skills for Teachers Dr. Dilip Barad Dept. of English, Bhavnagar University 5th May, 2009: Friday ASC, Gujarat University, Ahmedabad
    • 2. Plan of Action • Introduction: What is communication? • Importance of communication – esp for teachers? • Why/how teachers fail – bulgaria? Penny • Important points to be a good communicaitor in the classroom… • Types of learning styles: • Follow-up action in communication with the help of technology – sms/email/scrap/tweet/forum/ • Uploading lesson plans/classroom presentations on websites/SIGs- yahoo- Google • Real life situation: Group activity: Discuss your communication problems and how you try to overcome them?
    • 3. Myth Vs Reality Communication Myths Communication Reality Communication is a conscious / deliberate Communication is an unconscious process process. (e.g. Osho’s visit to disciple, and it goes on at every moment of time! father-2 son,) We communicate primarily through We communicate through ‘verbal’ as well ‘words’ only. (Vodafone) as ‘non-verbal signs. Words mean the same to everyone. Meaning of the words lies more in (Pardon, women) perception of reality. (Idea ? EduSpread or joblessness) Communication is a one-sided process Communication is a two-way process and and it is controlled by communicator. it always happens, controlled by none. Message sent and message received are Transmission and reception of message the same. (see next slide for e.g.) can never be identical.
    • 4.
    • 5. Introduction: • Morgan, Algiro L. in his paper ‘Communication Skills for Teachers’ • “One of the most neglected aspects of teacher training is thorough preparation in the diverse communication skills that are needed by good teachers in today's schools.”
    • 6. Why doe he say so and what does he mean by it? • Why: What do you mean by communication? • Peter Little: “Communication is the process by which information is transmitted so that an understanding response results.” • Lyndsay Swinton: “It's not about whizzy powerpoint slides or wordy reports. Effective communication is about being understood.” • Success comes in direct proportion to the command one has over communication. • Knowledge is power – but it is potential power – it should be acted upon – otherwise . . .
    • 7. Algiro Morgan • “Pre-professional teachers require a grounding in communication theory, a thorough knowledge of how children acquire competence, an understanding of how language is used, an ability to discern and to respond sensitively to the body language used in a communicative transaction, rhetorical skills for the organization and delivery of specific knowledge and skills, and a grounding in group dynamics and group discussion skills.”
    • 8. Communication Skills for teachers • Teaching is generally considered – – 50% knowledge and – 50% interpersonal or communication skills. • What consists of this communication skills?
    • 9. Six Important Points: CS 4 T • Positive Motivation: create interest, enthusiasm, remove fear and inhibition. • Effective Body Language: Gestures, body movement with verbal skills – never sit and teach - Moving in aisles. • Sense of Humor: do not confuse dirty jokes with humour. • Understanding the Students: prefer dialogue over monologue – listen students’ opinion. • Team Formation: helps in mutual understanding students as well as teacher. • Technical skills: Up-to-date with latest techno-tools for teaching.
    • 10. Is it as easy as it is said??? • No… it is not that easy. To learn to communicate is a difficult task. • Some teachers can produce the effect – quite effortlessly…. Others die hard to, but never succeeds!!! • Are teachers born or made???Penny Ur – 1997, conference presentation:
    • 11. Penny Ur - 1997 • In this respect she identifies some essential qualities, which relate to teaching rather than other professions: • – I sense where the learner is at, what their problem is: I feel what they know and what they don’t know. – I know how to transform what I know about the language into a form that is accessible to my learners – I know how to design and administer activities and exercises that will foster learning – I know when learning is and is not happening by the way the learners behave: I don’t need tests – I get my ‘buzz’ from when the students succeed, learn, progress
    • 12. Very important to remember whil teaching: various Learning Styles: • Auditory Learner: It is a learning style in which a person learns through listening. • Visual Learner: Itis a teaching and learning style in which ideas, concepts, data and other information are associated with images and graphs/charts/playcards. • Kinesthetic Learner: It is a teaching and learning style in which learning takes place by the student actually carrying out a physical activity, rather than listening to a lecture or merely watching a demonstration.
    • 13. How to identify them? • Auditory Learner: • Visual Learner: • Kinesthetic Learner:
    • 14. Use of technology as follow-up actions in communication skills • Pedagogy is evolving with newer technological aids for better communication in classroom. • Various ICT components helps teacher in enhancing their skills in teaching. • It also has its deep rooted impact on the learning of the students. • Here, we discuss how can we sharpen our communication skills by using it for follow-up actions?
    • 15. • SMS, email, scrap, tweet, chat, web spaces, SIG, etc can be used effectively for: – Replying questions of the students – Solving their doubts/queries etc – Giving some task for next class in advance – Having group discussion out of the class – Uploading lesson presentation to web spaces – Running web sites with LMS to check students progress – Managing e-groups (SIGs) – file upload, poll, discussion, photos etc.
    • 16. Real life classroom problems in communication !!! • Group activity: • Discuss with your partners some of communication crisis you faced in your classroom and how did you manage to overcome it? • The group representative will present the report of their discussion. • 20 mins for discussion • Each group representative will get 5 mins to present their discussion.
    • 17. Thank You… • Questions???? • Before you ask, please view next slide! • References • Cullen, R., 1998, “Teacher talk & the classroom context”, ELTJournal 52/3 • Gower,R., Phillips,D. & Walters,W. 1995, Teaching Practice Handbook, Heinemann • Malamah-Thomas, A. 1987, Classroom Interaction, Oxford University Press • Ur, P. ,1997, “Are teachers born or made?”, IATEFL UK conference proceedings • • • kinesthetic.html • • • •
    • 18. Dr. Dilip Barad can be contacted @... • • • • • Yahoo Messenger: d_barad • Google Talk: dilipbarad • Orkut: dilipbarad • Facebook: dilipbarad • Presentations:

    Monday 9 March 2009

    Mahatma’s Memorabilia

    Auctioning and Vijay Mallya's winning auction of Mahatma's belonging is the mother of all ironies. The hype and uproar made for the belongings of the man who abstain from all sort of material possession is surprising. More than that, the memorabilia of the man who stood for teetotalism throughout his life is proudly bought back to our country by the man who earned his money form liquor business. What more do you expect from mother Irony!   

    The message of the man who told that 'my life is my message' is lost in the oblivion. The man who killed Mahatma wanted to kill his ideas and beliefs. He failed. He could only kill the man. Now the people who want to keep the Mahatma alive are in reality killing the ideas and beliefs for which he stood and are trying to keep the man alive through his belongings. How ironical!

    Wednesday 4 February 2009

    CALL - Computer Assisted Language Learning

    Computer-assisted language learning (CALL) is a form of computer-based learning which carries two important features: bidirectional learning and individualized learning. It is not a method. CALL materials are tools for learning. The focus of CALL is learning, and not teaching. CALL materials are used in teaching to facilitate the language learning process. It is a student-centered learning material, which promotes self-paced learning.

    Thursday 25 December 2008

    Experimenting ICT in English Language and Literature

    This article was published in 'The AsiaCall Online Journal (ISSN: 1936-9859). The full article can be downloaded from this link: Click here to Download full article.

    We live in an era of information explosion. Once there was famine of information, today we are drowned in the deluge of information. Gale of change is blowing in the pedagogy of Teaching English Language and Literature (TELL). Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is a catalyst agent. ICT has initiated new possibilities into the classroom. The marriage between education and Internet technology has made a deep impact on perspectives about teaching and learning. The role of the teacher, the nature and context of learning, as well as the function and relative importance of course content have all been challenged and redefined. Technophobic teachers have no place in this new world order.
    This paper aims at sharing practical experiments with ICT in Teaching English Language and Literature. It deals with pragmatic aspects of using ICT with the student community of Business Management and Humanities. The extensive use of web 2.0 components, internet, blogs, e-groups, SMSs, emails, socializing portals, e-dictionaries, e-ncyclopedia, ppt presentations, webcasting, audio-video etc as teaching tools were experimented in the classroom. The student community was motivated to make use of cyber cafes and GPRS mobiles to interact with the teacher.
    The paper deals with very pertinent questions:
    • How far is ICT useful to student community?
    • What is the role of ICT in teaching English language and literature?
    • What kind of methods can be used to overcome students' problems?
    • Can it empower student community? Can it improve their proficiency of learning?

    How to cite this article:

    Barad, D. (2010). EXPERIMENTING ICT IN TEACHING ENGLISH LANGUAGE AND LITERATURE. AsiaCALL Online Journal, 4(1). Retrieved 2010-07-04, from 

    Barad, D.. EXPERIMENTING ICT IN TEACHING ENGLISH LANGUAGE AND LITERATURE. AsiaCALL Online Journal, North America, 4 3 07 2010.
    Bib Tex
                   author = {Barad, D.},
                   journal = {AsiaCALL Online Journal},
                   volume = {4},
                   number = {1},
                   year = {2010},

                   url = {}

    Ref Works
                author = {Barad, D.},
                journal = {AsiaCALL Online Journal},
                volume = {4},
                number = {1},
                year = {2010},

                url = {}
    Barad, Dilip. "EXPERIMENTING ICT IN TEACHING ENGLISH LANGUAGE AND LITERATURE" AsiaCALL Online Journal [Online], Volume 4 Number 1 (3 July 2010)

    Dictionary Skills

    Dictionary is the Geeta, the Bible, the Qoran for the genuine learners. As one cannot achieve spiritual salvation without the Guru and the Granth (the religious book), similarly, one cannot achieve knowledge without the Dictinary. Dictionaries are both the Guru and the Granth. It is the book which can well be termed as the friend, philosopher and the guide. It is up to the user as to how better advantages can be taken from dictionaries. Dictionary is like Shakespeare. Remember what Mathew Arnold wrote in his poem on Shakespeare: "We ask and ask - Thou smilest and art still,/ Out-topping knowledge." Let us see the following presentation to learn 'how to make best use of Dictionary?'
    Dictionary Skills
    View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: dictionary online)

    Academic Writing Skills 2

    We think Study Writing is most suitable for students whose English level is between intermediate and early advanced (approximately IELTS 5.0 - 7.0, TOEFL 480 - 600, Computer based TOEFL 160 - 250, or new generation iBT TOEFL 55-100). These presentations on Academic Writing skills will help you in five main ways. Firstly, it will introduce you to key concepts in academic writing, such as the role of generalizations, definitions and classifications. Secondly, you will explore the use of information structures such as those used to develop ans present an argument, a comparison or a contrast. Thirdly, you will be guided through the language as it is used in academic writing. Fourthly, you will become familiar with particular genres such as the research paper. Finally, you will try out some of the processes which we have found help students to improve their writing abilities, such as how to participate in a virtual peer group and how to get feedback on a piece of writing before you present a final draft.
    Academic Writing Skills 2
    View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: academic writing)

    Academic Writing Skills 1

    Of all the skills of language learning, viz., L-S-R-W, Writing Skills is one of the most important one. Today, we live in an era of specialization. It is time to give special attention to writing skills for special purpose. Here, in the given presentation, we shall discuss the writing skills required for academic purpose only. Writing for academic purpose, say for instance, for research article, for Ph.D. or M.Phil. dissertation, etc is not as simple as writing for communicative purpose. Academic writing has some unique features. These features will be highlighted in this presentaiton series on AWS (Academic Writing Skills.
    Academic Writing Skills 1
    View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: academic writing)

    Saturday 23 August 2008

    Olympics should have no place for hypocrisy

    Olympics is the mother of all games and sporting events. Since the time of Greeks, sportsman spirit and sportsmanship are indelible part of Olympics. Sports and games are played not for winning or losing. It is played with a view to develop a conduct considered fitting for the sportsperson, including observance of the rules of fair play, respect for others, and graciousness in losing. It is intended to make human beings more humble and honest; as a result to make the world best place to live for one and all.

    Such a magnanimous event (Beijing Olympics 2008) should not open the way it has, at Beijing - China. It is not a big issue that the girl with best voice but imperfect teeth is replaced by the one looking beautiful. What is more important is the dishonesty. China has cheated not only 91,000 people sitting in the Bird's Nest, but the whole world, through live telecast of that song. China should have disclosed the fact and due respect should have been given to the girl who really sang the song. It is not a fair play. China failed to give respect to her own citizens. How would China face that little girl's questions when she grows to understand injustice done to her? It is the best (or worst?) example of China's hypocrisy. The dragon has different teeth to show and to chew!

    Saturday 9 August 2008

    Spellings in English Language: To Spell or Not to Spell Correctly.

    Spellings in English Language: To Spell or Not to Spell Correctly

    - Dilip Barad 

    (This was published in IATEFL newsletter VOICES. University of Kent, UK. September-October 2009. 210. ISSN: 1814-3830)

    How to cite this article:

    Barad, D. P. (2009). Spellings in English Language: To Spell or Not to Spell Correctly. (A. Schwetlick, Ed.) VOICES (210), 11.
    Barad, D. P. "Spellings in English Language: To Spell or Not to Spell Correctly." VOICES 210 (2009): 11.

    Language grows. It has accreting quality. It flows like river. It goes on changing its shape and flow in harmony with its levee. Change is the only permanent feature of language. Language which does not change with flux of time, gives up the ghost.
    The Spelling is one of the vital components of a language. From time and again, like language, spellings of the language also undergo a change. From Geoffrey Chaucer – the father of English language – down the line, if you read writings of Shakespeare, Edmund Spencer, Milton, Dryden or any of the 18th, 19th century English literary hulks, you will find how modern English spellings were ‘misspelled’ by these great man of English letters.

    If the history of English language tells us that language and its spellings can’t be static; it must constantly evolve to keep up with changing times and remain relevant; then why should Pundits of the language cling steadfastly to the correctness of spelling?
    Ken Smith (Rebecca Atwood 2008, BBC 2008), lecturer at the Bucks New University in Britain has added fuel to the debate over ‘to spell or not to spell correctly’. “Don't let students' howlers drive you mad, says Ken Smith. Accept their most common mistakes as variant spellings ... and relax.” He further argues that “…instead of complaining about the state of the education system as we correct the same mistakes year after year, I've got a better idea. University teachers should simply accept as variant spelling those words our students most commonly misspell”. Several of British English spellings are already accepted as American variants and people have easily assimilated them in their daily usage. Thanks to Bill Gates and MS Office. ‘U’ is omitted from ‘colour’, ‘favour’, ‘endeavour’ etc. This software programme has changed ‘programme’ to ‘program’, ‘judgement’ to ‘judgment’. Ken Smith asks, “The spelling of the word "judgement", for example, is now widely accepted as a variant of "judgment", so why can't "truely" be accepted as a variant spelling of "truly"?” To begin with, he listed top 10 spellings of simple words which are commonly misspelled by the students.
    Of course, such proposals have been made in the past. The dawn of SMS-text messaging turned many students into spelling Neanderthals as phrases such as "wot r u doin 2nite?" became socially, if not academically, acceptable.
    Despite Smith's suggestion, language pundits are unconvinced. John Simpson  (Luke Baker 2008), the chief editor of the Oxford English Dictionary, says rules are rules and they are there for good reason. "There are enormous advantages in having a coherent system of spelling," he told the Times newspaper. He added, "It makes it easier to communicate. Maybe during a learning phase there is some scope for error, but I would hope that by the time people get to university they have learnt to spell correctly."
    But still the point is: Is it really necessary to spell correctly to fulfill basic function of language – which is to ‘communicate’? If we can communicate without correct spellings, is it essential to learn how to spell correctly? If you have a million dolor (check meaning of this word) doubt regarding how to communicate without spelling correctly, read following paragraph (I originally saw this a few years ago as blog entries by Mark and Angel 2006):

    Cna yuo raed tihs?  Suteids sohw taht olny aoubt 55 prcenet of plepoe can (atculley trheer is no scuh sudty).  I cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg.  Tihs sohws us the phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid.  Aoccdrnig to rscheearch at an Elingsh Uinervtisy, it dseno’t mtaetr waht oerdr the ltteres in a wrod are in, the olny iproamtnt tihng is taht the frsit and lsat ltteer are in the rghit pclae.  The rset of the txet can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it whotuit a pboerlm.  Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but isntaed raeds the wrod as a wlohe.  Azanmig huh?  Yaeh and we awlyas tghuhot slpelnig was ipmorantt!
    Yet even some of Britain's greatest wordsmiths have acknowledged it's a language with irritating quirkiness. Playwright George Bernard Shaw was fond of pointing out that the word "ghoti" could just as well be pronounced "fish" if you followed common pronunciation: 'gh' as in "tough," 'o' as in "women" and 'ti' as in "nation."
    Isn’t Ken Smith’s idea worth accepting? Isn’t it the time to adopt humanistic approach and free student from the atrocities of spellings? Technology has changed the way we live and think. It has initiated change in the way we spell our spellings. Isn’t it a good idea to simplify obsolete and confusing spellings? Isn’t it an idea whose time has come?


    Bad spelling 'should be accepted' . BBC News Online. 7 Aug 2008. n.pag. web. 4 July 2009. <>
    Attwood, Rebecca. “Just spell it like it is”. 2007 TSL Education Ltd. 7 Aug 2008. n.pag. web. 4 July 2008. <>

    Baker, Luke. “Spelling "truely atrosious," says academic”. Thomson Reuters 2009. 7 Aug. 2008. n.pag. web. 4 July. 2009. <>

    Mark and Angel. “Can you read this?” 2006-2009 Marc and Angel Hack Life. 20 Nov. 2006. n.pag. web. 5 July. 2009. <>


    Images of the cover page and write up:

    IATEFL - VOICES front page

    Write-up in VOICES-210


    Response to this write up:

    In the next issue of Voices, Jean Stocker questioned this:

    This was my reply:
    Dear Jean Stocker,
    In reply to my write up "To Spell or Not to Spell Correctly" published in IATEFL newsletter VOICES. University of Kent, UK. September-October 2009, you asked following question n Voices Issue 211, Nov-Dec 2009.
    The question was: "I would like to ask Dr Barad if he considers it acceptable to misspelt words in his own language, or, in fact, in any language?

    First of all, i am sorry for this delay in reply. Today suddenly i found this issue and read the question and remembered that i have yet not replied.

    Well, i have seen that spellings in my language ( that is Gujarati, spoken in Western state Gujarat of India) are quite often misspelt. In journalistic writings, no body cares for correctness of spellings. The functional and communicative aspect has become more important in spellings. So, by and large, people of my language have accepted several variants of spellings.
    I have seen that, on social media, people do communicate without being careful about spellings. The auto-spell checkers in mobile phones changes spellings and people realize (see this 'Gmail', forcing me to write realize instead of realise. What can we do? :) ) the error after it is sent. Most are developing habit of proof reading after sending or when they receive reply. But the surprising fact is that they are able to communicate and so nobody cares about spellings.
    What do you say about spellings in your language?

    I would like to request scholars and researchers of Gujarati language to throw some more light on spellings in Gujarati.

    Thursday 24 July 2008

    Marks Vs Merit

    It is well observed that students who can't write a few sentence on their favorite film star secures more than 80% marks in board examination. This reflects to the dire situation in which our education system is. Marks do not guarantee intelligence. Our edu-examination system is like eating too much and then vomiting it. Those students who get good percentage are better in stuffing their memory with cramming and then vomiting over the answer books. The better the vomit, the better the marks! It would be better if we introduce continuous assessment system where in daily performance of the students in all the walks of education, including sports, NCC/NSS, Cultural events etc is also considered seriously for merit. We never give any weightage to extra-curricular activities in the mark-sheet of student, neither is it considered as merit for admission in higher education. We are making grave mistake by missing the mark. Our educationist must realize that marks does not contribute to overall development of personality, it is extra-curricular activities which contribute to it.

    Tuesday 22 July 2008

    India’s need of the hour: Young Educated Politician

    Education enlightens. It helps to look beyond horizons. It gives vision to look at the things in newer ways. Fortunate are citizens of Rajkot and Bhavnagar to get well-educated Mayors to serve them. It is a happy sign that highly educated young people are devoting for community service through politics. Young nation like India wants younger generation with good higher education to serve her. And Yes…  Isn't it the impact of Lead India campaign that generationext is coming forth to lead & reign Youngistan?

    VC stoops to conquer favour of CM

    This is with reference to the news about Vice-Chancellor of Gujarat University touching feet of Chief Minister Narendra Modi during one public gathering. It is really sad to see the guardians of education stoop so down to win political favors. It is said that education leads to empowerment & it makes one nirbhay(fearless). What sort of fearlessness would such vice-chancellors give to the students? It is nice to read that in past, there were several vice-chancellors who defiantly stood against the then governments. Today's vice-chancellors, professors and teachers are totally lost in their moral strength and ethical ground. No doubt, the ethical standards of such societies are dwindling down. The dream of Ravindranath Tagore to see his country awake, where the mind is without fear and the head is held high, is still nothing but a dream.

    Responsibility of Media and Police in Democracy

    Arushi-Hemraj murder case is one of the worst examples of irresponsible behavior of media and police. There is an outcry, since time immemorial against the way police and media behaves. Both have tremendous responsibilities on their shoulders. They are strongest pillars of democracy. It is time that they should understand that with great power comes great responsibility. This case, let us hope, will open their eyes and in future they will behave with responsibility and accountability.

    Thursday 3 July 2008

    WikiEducator: Platform for managing e-Learning Resourses

    Wiki has become a very popular brand name. Today, one need not teach netizens the meanin of wikipedia, wikimapia, wikinews, wikiquote, wikisource, Meta-wiki, wikispecies, wikitionary, wikibooks, wikiversity etc, etc.... I dont thing people alien to this concept would ever be reading this blog. If they are, here is the answer of What is Wiki?
    The name "Wiki" was chosen by Ward Cunningham -- the creator of the first Wiki. It is a shortened form of "wiki-wiki", the Hawaiian word for 'quick'.
    A wiki is a web site that is generally editable by anyone with a computer, a web browser, and an internet connection. Wikis use a quick and easy syntax to allow users to apply formatting to text and create links between pages. This simple formatting syntax means that authors no longer need to learn the complexities of HTML to create content on the web.
    The main strength of a wiki is that it gives people the ability to work collaboratively on the same document. The only software you need is an Internet browser. Consequently, wikis are used for a variety of purposes. If you make a mistake, it's easy to revert back to an earlier version of the document.
    Wiki is in Ward's original description:
    The simplest online database that could possibly work.
    Wiki is a piece of server software that allows users to freely create and edit Web page content using any Web browser. Wiki supports hyperlinks and has a simple text syntax for creating new pages and crosslinks between internal pages on the fly.
    Wiki is unusual among group communication mechanisms in that it allows the organization of contributions to be edited in addition to the content itself.
    Like many simple concepts, "open editing" has some profound and subtle effects on Wiki usage. Allowing everyday users to create and edit any page in a Web site is exciting in that it encourages democratic use of the Web and promotes content composition by nontechnical users.
    WikiEducator is a similar kind of platform for teachers, researchers and any-who-and-what related to teaching, learning, research and education.
    WikiEducator is a community resource supported by the Commonwealth of Learning (COL) for the development of free educational content.COL is an intergovernmental organisation created by Commonwealth Heads of Government to encourage the development and sharing of open learning and distance education knowledge, resources and technologies.
    WikiEducator's purpose, in thier own words, is to build an evolving community intended for the collaborative planning of education projects linked with the development of free content;
    colloborative development of free content on Wikieducator for e-learning;
    colloborative work on building open education resources (OERs) on how to create OERs.
    The WikiEducator is a community which believes in:

    • The social inclusion and participation of all people in our networked society (Access to ICTs is a fundamental right of knowledge citizens - not an excuse for using old technologies).
    • In the freedoms of all educators to teach with the technologies and contents of their choice, hence our commitment to Free/Libre and Open Source technology tools and free content.
    • That educational content is unique - and by working together we can improve the technologies we use as well as the reusability of digital learning resources.
    • A forward-looking disposition working together to find appropriate and sustainable solutions for e-learning futures.

    WikiEducator is a dynamic and exciting community of educators who believe passionately that learning materials should be free and open to all. Listen to Desmond Tutu on freedom in education and check out the exciting roles in our community.
    If you think you believe in similar sort of values, Please join WikiEducator in developing free and open educational content for the world!
    Get started today and register now for free wiki training.