According to a language expert, spelling is of great importance even in times of digital communication. Correct writing is an important means of being able to read texts efficiently, said the head of the Leibniz Institute for the German Language (IDS), Henning Lobin, of the German Press Agency in Mannheim.

“We can understand texts more easily if the word form always remains the same and the punctuation helps to distinguish between main and subordinate clauses,” explained the linguistics professor at the 59th IDS annual conference on the subject of “Orthography in Science and Society”. Language skills guarantee social participation, a lack of command can lead to social exclusion, said Lobin.

Spelling also has the practical function of showing language competence. For example, correct spelling is essential in applications. “Many mistakes are associated with carelessness and a lack of education.” The quality of the cover letter affects the first impression a potential employer has of an applicant.

Spelling is used differently depending on the occasion: “Thanks to the Internet and social media, we have more informal occasions where mistakes don’t play a major role,” said Lobin. Schools face the challenge of not allowing informal language use to spill over into the formal realm in the long term. In Baden-W├╝rttemberg there is a spelling framework with guidelines for teachers that goes beyond the curricula. But most young people are aware of the different requirements, said Lobin.

IDS