oh truly!! ... I can't believe that argument still exists.
Thankfully Crystal argues against the position..... 'There are people around who would treat what I said to be the voice of the devil, but one has to remember that spelling was only standardised in the 18th century. In Shakespeare's time you could spell more or less as you liked." ''All that will happen is that one set of conventions will replace another set of conventions,'' he said.
While knowledge of traditional spelling is necessary to get by, writing is about meaning making - evaluating style and mode according to purpose and audience.
If we are moving away from some of the nonsensical spellings that are a nightmare to learn - GOOD! I spent years trying to assist adults struggling to overcome their lack of self-esteem as learners. Many came in telling me they 'couldn't spell'; in fact I could 'read' their message very well. There were minor errors but it did not impact on the task at hand. Learning some basic spelling rules helped some, a little but generally we reverted to small pocket sized indexed notebooks that students could use when 'good' spelling was ideal.
As for the argument against sms speak - abbreviated spelling is a useful tool in particular media and contexts. It HAS it's place. You won't get far in twitter using traditional spelling but good twitterers also make great writers of academic papers.
The best writers have an armoury of styles and can use each one appropriately to suit context, audience and purpose. Stick to one [traditional] style and you'll not only look a right jerk but you'll miss a lot of fun. What educators need to do is to embrace all styles in their program and provide opportunity to learn to use ALL well.
Using only formal English is a little like wearing a suit 24/7
[CC FlickR image: Paul Goyette]