This Seems to Have Affected You – Diminishing the Effect of Prescriptivism

A quick Google search to remind yourself of when to use effect or affect yields websites much like this one from University of Kansas.

The minutiae this gets into is ridiculous when you think that they sound exactly the same: [əˈfɛkt], except for the psychological noun: [ˈæ.fɛkt]. Unless it could be established that we say something like [əˈfɛkt] for ‹effect› and [ʌˈfɛkt] for ‹affect› or some close distinction like that, realistically, all instances of [əˈfɛkt] should be spelled ‹effect› and [ˈæ.fɛkt], ‹affect›. All other distinctions really are superfluous. It doesn’t communicate any transparent or salient etymological information, which is the only defense of keeping confounding English spelling conventions. The site indicating that effect as a verb is “acceptable in rare cases” reflects that people are picking up on this and jettisoning the orthographic buffoonery.

(For the sake of Google searches and attracting the prescriptivists themselves, I’ve maintained the prescription in the title of this post. Please excuse its nonsense.)

So here is a view of the KU webpage with all of the spellings replaced by the phonetic transcription. The silliness of these rules becomes apparent when IPA evens the playing field.

The distinction is imaginary.

In the light of IPA there is no condemnation

In the light of IPA there is no condemnation


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