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Should English Spelling be Simplified?

brian_eggleston
Posts: 3,347
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1/28/2011 11:52:08 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
(Don't worry, this isn't one of my rants, it's interesting!)

Recognising the inconsistencies of English spelling, in 1768 Benjamin Franklin published a book entitled "A Scheme for a new Alphabet and a Reformed Mode of Spelling". [1] Since then, many other public figures have actively supported spelling reform including: Mark Twain; Isaac Pitman (of Pitman shorthand fame), Charles Darwin, Lord Tennyson (the Poet Laureate) Arthur Conan Doyle (the creator of the Sherlock Holmes stories), James A.H. Murray (the first editor of the Oxford English Dictionary) and Andre Carnegie (who donated a vast some of money to help establish The Simplified Spelling Board). [2]

Noah Webster, the compiler of the first dictionary of American English, actually lobbied Congress for his definitive spellings to me made compulsory (and thus render spelling mistakes punishable offences!) but to the relief of all American schoolchildren (and most adults in Oklahoma) his lobbying wasn't successful.

Nevertheless, Webster began the process of amending the spelling of many words and the different spellings in American and (British) English that resulted from this program (programme) of reform include: airplane (aeroplane); aluminum (aluminium); Americanization (Americanisation); boro (borough); catalog (catalogue); color (colour); right thru (through) to mustache (moustache); pajamas (pyjamas) and tidbit (titbit).

See, I told you it was going to interesting, didn't I?

Nevertheless, there still remain many irregularities in English spelling. For example, there are words that are pronounced the same but are spelt (or should that be ‘spelled'?) include:

Bow (the front of a boat, to lower one's head) / Bough (the branch of a tree)
Bred / Bread
Bury / Berry
Colonel / Kernel
Eight / Ate
Aisle / Isle
Saw / Sore

And there are words that are spelled the same but pronounced differently:

Bow (the front of a boat) / Bow (the instrument used play a violin or fire an arrow)
Row (to propel a boat using oars) / Row (to argue)
Read (present tense) / Read (past tense)

And why do we rhyme ‘bury' with ‘cherry' but ‘busy' with ‘fizzy'?

And why are ‘tough', ‘through', ‘thorough' and ‘thought' all pronounced so differently yet spelt so similarly?

No wonder foreigners find English so difficult to master!

So is it time that English spelling was standardised so that words such as ‘garage' and ‘threw' were spelled phonetically as ‘garaj' and ‘thru'?

Or would this cause confusion? Consider this: Lewis Caroll's ‘Alice Through the Looking Glass' would become ‘Alice Thru the Looking Glass', which potential buyers of the book could interpret as ‘Alice Threw the Looking Glass' and think "What a naughty, petulant little girl, I certainly don't want to read about her, I thiink I'll buy Brian Eggleston's ‘Harry Monk and the Pornographer's Boner instead!"

So, should English be simplified or not? What do you think?

[1] http://www.omniglot.com...
[2] Mother Tongue, Bill Bryson: P120-121 (published by Penguin Books, 1990)
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Mirza
Posts: 16,992
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1/28/2011 11:53:34 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
Apart from homonyms causing confusion, the language would evolve regardless. That is why it is hard to keep one single standard of any language.
belle
Posts: 4,113
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1/28/2011 11:56:45 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
you can spell stuff however you want, brian, no one is stopping you.
evidently i only come to ddo to avoid doing homework...
mattrodstrom
Posts: 12,028
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1/28/2011 12:03:46 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 1/28/2011 11:56:45 AM, belle wrote:
you can spell stuff however you want, brian, no one is stopping you.

lol.. that doesn't mean there wouldn't be consequences.
"He who does not know how to put his will into things at least puts a meaning into them: that is, he believes there is a will in them already."

Metaphysics:
"The science.. which deals with the fundamental errors of mankind - but as if they were the fundamental truths."
darkkermit
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1/28/2011 12:11:08 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
People will be resilient to change. Even if the new system is "easier", it would not be easier for those who have learned the previous English spellings and these people would have to relearn how to spell.
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ChristianM
Posts: 1,764
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1/28/2011 3:31:36 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 1/28/2011 11:52:08 AM, brian_eggleston wrote:
(Don't worry, this isn't one of my rants, it's interesting!)

Recognising the inconsistencies of English spelling, in 1768 Benjamin Franklin published a book entitled "A Scheme for a new Alphabet and a Reformed Mode of Spelling". [1] Since then, many other public figures have actively supported spelling reform including: Mark Twain; Isaac Pitman (of Pitman shorthand fame), Charles Darwin, Lord Tennyson (the Poet Laureate) Arthur Conan Doyle (the creator of the Sherlock Holmes stories), James A.H. Murray (the first editor of the Oxford English Dictionary) and Andre Carnegie (who donated a vast some of money to help establish The Simplified Spelling Board). [2]

Noah Webster, the compiler of the first dictionary of American English, actually lobbied Congress for his definitive spellings to me made compulsory (and thus render spelling mistakes punishable offences!) but to the relief of all American schoolchildren (and most adults in Oklahoma) his lobbying wasn't successful.

Nevertheless, Webster began the process of amending the spelling of many words and the different spellings in American and (British) English that resulted from this program (programme) of reform include: airplane (aeroplane); aluminum (aluminium); Americanization (Americanisation); boro (borough); catalog (catalogue); color (colour); right thru (through) to mustache (moustache); pajamas (pyjamas) and tidbit (titbit).

See, I told you it was going to interesting, didn't I?

Nevertheless, there still remain many irregularities in English spelling. For example, there are words that are pronounced the same but are spelt (or should that be ‘spelled'?) include:

Bow (the front of a boat, to lower one's head) / Bough (the branch of a tree)
Bred / Bread
Bury / Berry
Colonel / Kernel
Eight / Ate
Aisle / Isle
Saw / Sore

And there are words that are spelled the same but pronounced differently:

Bow (the front of a boat) / Bow (the instrument used play a violin or fire an arrow)
Row (to propel a boat using oars) / Row (to argue)
Read (present tense) / Read (past tense)

And why do we rhyme ‘bury' with ‘cherry' but ‘busy' with ‘fizzy'?

And why are ‘tough', ‘through', ‘thorough' and ‘thought' all pronounced so differently yet spelt so similarly?

No wonder foreigners find English so difficult to master!

So is it time that English spelling was standardised so that words such as ‘garage' and ‘threw' were spelled phonetically as ‘garaj' and ‘thru'?

Or would this cause confusion? Consider this: Lewis Caroll's ‘Alice Through the Looking Glass' would become ‘Alice Thru the Looking Glass', which potential buyers of the book could interpret as ‘Alice Threw the Looking Glass' and think "What a naughty, petulant little girl, I certainly don't want to read about her, I thiink I'll buy Brian Eggleston's ‘Harry Monk and the Pornographer's Boner instead!"

So, should English be simplified or not? What do you think?

[1] http://www.omniglot.com...
[2] Mother Tongue, Bill Bryson: P120-121 (published by Penguin Books, 1990)

What, like NewSpeak in 1984?
CosmicAlfonzo
Posts: 5,955
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1/28/2011 3:37:56 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 1/28/2011 11:53:34 AM, Mirza wrote:
Apart from homonyms causing confusion, the language would evolve regardless. That is why it is hard to keep one single standard of any language.

Quoted for truth.

Language evolves whether academics like it or not.

Just look at how the English language alone has changed over the centuries.. Even decades...

It's really fast now. Regular tower of babble our society has become, eh? >.>
Official "High Priest of Secular Affairs and Transient Distributor of Sonic Apple Seeds relating to the Reptilian Division of Paperwork Immoliation" of The FREEDO Bureaucracy, a DDO branch of the Erisian Front, a subdivision of the Discordian Back, a Limb of the Illuminatian Cosmic Utensil Corp
Atheism
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1/28/2011 4:28:02 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 1/28/2011 11:52:08 AM, brian_eggleston wrote:
"...I think I'll buy Brian Eggleston's ‘Harry Monk and the Pornographer's Boner instead!"
Classy.
I miss the old members.
SuperRobotWars
Posts: 3,906
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1/28/2011 9:03:08 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
You should look into German, Lojban, and Volapuk . . . especially German . . .
Minister Of Trolling
: At 12/6/2011 2:21:41 PM, badger wrote:
: ugly people should beat beautiful people ugly. simple! you'd be killing two birds with the one stone... women like violent men and you're making yourself more attractive, relatively. i met a blonde dude who was prettier than me not so long ago. he's not so pretty now! ha!
:
: ...and well, he wasn't really prettier than me. he just had nice hair.
Veridas
Posts: 733
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1/29/2011 12:02:49 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
brian_eggleston said:
So, should English be simplified or not? What do you think?

No, and f*ck you.

All languages are complex in their own way, even the nordic languages, particularly when you figure out that as languiages go, they're incredibly similar.

Languages also, through the medium of complexity, make wordsmithing and creative writing possible. Nobody would write anhing worth reading in a language with only one thousand words, that, by the way, is roughly the number of words in the English language at the time of Shakespeare. (The rest of the words were considered to be what they were, foreign words in common usage) but Shakespeare wasn't going to let something like an entire nation tell him how to use a language, no siree, the sumb!tch invented about three thousand words for his plays just to make them good.
What fresh dickery is the internet up to today?
Ore_Ele
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1/29/2011 10:22:19 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
I just want silent letters to go away, and what the hell is with "ph" = "f"?! phuck that!!!
"Wanting Red Rhino Pill to have gender"
CosmicAlfonzo
Posts: 5,955
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1/29/2011 10:46:45 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
Shakespeare was the Dr. Seuss of his time.
Official "High Priest of Secular Affairs and Transient Distributor of Sonic Apple Seeds relating to the Reptilian Division of Paperwork Immoliation" of The FREEDO Bureaucracy, a DDO branch of the Erisian Front, a subdivision of the Discordian Back, a Limb of the Illuminatian Cosmic Utensil Corp
Mirza
Posts: 16,992
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2/2/2011 9:01:21 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 2/2/2011 8:43:42 AM, brian_eggleston wrote:
Flammable = catches fire
Inflammable = catches fire
That is actually a result of language evolution, which is unavoidable.
Grape
Posts: 989
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2/3/2011 9:55:35 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
He: I M A B.
She: U R!
He: S, R U A B 2?
She: O S, I M A B 2. R U N T V?
He: S, I M A T V B.
She: G!

MEIHEM IN CE KLASRUM by Dolton Edwards

"BECAUSE WE ARE STILL BEARING SOME OF THE SCARS OF OUR BRIEF SKIRMISH with II-B English, it is natural that we should be enchanted by Mr. George Bernard Shaw's current campaign for a simplified alphabet.

Obviously, as Mr. Shaw points out, English spelling is in much need of a general overhauling and streamlining. However, our own resistance to any changes requiring a large expenditure of mental effort in the near future would cause us to view with some apprehension the possibility of some day receiving a morning paper printed in-to us-Greek.

Our own plan would achieve the same end as the legislation proposed by Mr. Shaw, but in a less shocking manner, as it consists merely of an acceleration of the normal processes by which the language is continually modernized.

As a catalytic agent, we would suggest that a National Easy Language Week be proclaimed, which the President would inaugurate, outlining some short cut to concentrate on during the week, and to be adopted during the ensuing year. All school children would be given a holiday, the lost time being the equivalent of that gained by the spelling short cut.

In 1946, for example, we would urge the elimination of the soft c, for which we would substitute "s." Sertainly, such an improvement would be selebrated in all sivic-minded sircles as being suffisiently worth the trouble, and students in all sities in the land would be reseptive to- ward any change eliminating the nesessity of learning the differense be- tween the two letters.

In 1947, sinse only the hard "c" would be left, it would be possible to substitute "k" for it, both letters being pronounsed identikally. Imagine how greatly only two years of this prosess would klarify the konfusion in the minds of students. Already we would have eliminated an entire letter from the alphabet. Typewriters and linotypes, kould all be built with one less letter, and a11 the manpower and materials previously devoted to making "c's" kould be turned toward raising the national standard of living.

In the fase of so many notable improvements, it is easy to foresee that by 1948, "National Easy Language Week" would be a pronounsed sukses. All skhool tshildren would be looking forward with konsiderable exsitement to the holiday, and in a blaze of national publisity it would be announsed that the double konsonant "ph" no longer existed, and that the sound would henseforth be written "f" in all words, This would make sutsh words as "fonograf" twenty persent shorter in print.

By 1949, public interest in a fonetik alfabet kan be expekted to have inkreased to the point where a more radikal step forward kan be taken without fear of undue kritisism. We would therefore urge the elimination, at that time of al unesesary double leters, whitsh, although quite harmles, have always ben a nuisanse in the language and a desided deterent to akurate speling. Try it yourself in the next leter you write, and se if both writing and reading are not fasilitated.

With so mutsh progres already made, it might be posible in 1950 to delve further into the posibilities of fonetik speling. After due konsidera- tion of the reseption aforded the previous steps, it should be expedient by this time to spel al difthongs fonetikaly. Most students do not realize that the long "i" and "y," as in "time" and "by," are aktualy the difthong "ai," as it is writen in "aisle" and that the long "a" in "fate," is in reality the difthong "ei" as in "rein." Although perhaps not imediately aparent, the saving in taime and efort wil be tremendous when we leiter elimineite the sailent "e," as meide posible bai this last tsheinge.

For, as is wel known, the horible mes of "e's' apearing in our writen language is kaused prinsipaly bai the present nesesity of indikeiting whether a vowel is long or short. Therefore, in 1951 we kould simply elimineit al sailent "e's," and kontinu to read and wrait merily along as though we wer in an atomik ag of edukation.

In 1951 we would urg a greit step forward. Sins bai this taim it would have ben four years sins anywun had usd the leter "c," we would sugest that the "National Easy Languag Wek" for 1951 be devoted to substitution of "c" for "Th." To be sur it would be som taim befor peopl would bekom akustomd to reading ceir newspapers and buks wic sutsh sentenses in cem as "Ceodor caught he had cre cousand cistls crust crough ce cik of his cumb.'

In ce seim maner, bai meiking eatsh leter hav its own sound and cat sound only, we kould shorten ce language stil mor. In 1952 we would elimineit ce "y"; cen in 1953 we kould us ce leter to indikeit ce "sh" sound, cerbai klarifaiing words laik yugar and yur, as wel as redusing bai wun mor leter al words laik "yut," "yore" and so forc. Cink, cen, of al ce benefits to be geind bai ce distinktion whitsh wil cen be meid between words laik:

ocean now writen oyean
machine " " mayin
racial " " reiyial

Al sutsh divers weis of wraiting wun sound would no longer exist. and whenever wun kaim akros a "y" sound he would know exaktli what to wrait.

Kontinuing cis proses, year after year, we would eventuali hav a reali sensibl writen langug. By 1975, wi ventyur tu sei, cer wud bi no mor uv ces teribli trublsum difikultis, wic no tu leters usd to indikeit ce seim nois, and laikwais no tu noises riten wic ce seim leter. Even Mr. Yaw, wi beliv, wud be hapi in ce noleg cat his drims fainili keim tru."

I orginally read this essay in a wonderful book called "A Stress Analysis of a Strapless Evening Gown: Essays for a Scientific Age." Shamelessly copy-pasted from Angelfire.
SuperRobotWars
Posts: 3,906
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2/3/2011 10:04:17 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
Don't we call this text lingo?
Minister Of Trolling
: At 12/6/2011 2:21:41 PM, badger wrote:
: ugly people should beat beautiful people ugly. simple! you'd be killing two birds with the one stone... women like violent men and you're making yourself more attractive, relatively. i met a blonde dude who was prettier than me not so long ago. he's not so pretty now! ha!
:
: ...and well, he wasn't really prettier than me. he just had nice hair.
brian_eggleston
Posts: 3,347
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10/6/2011 2:17:42 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
"We are gathered here today to mourn the loss of a dearly beloved and learned gentleman..."

All words ending '-ed' used to be pronounced with the full weight given to the final syllable, so it was: pronounc-ed rather than pronounc'd.

The English language is still maturing.
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brian_eggleston
Posts: 3,347
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10/6/2011 2:34:32 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 10/6/2011 2:21:28 PM, F-16_Fighting_Falcon wrote:
Brian, I don't understand how saw and soar could possibly be pronounced the same?

Saw, sore and soar are all pronounced the same in British English and rhyme with war, aren't they in American English?
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RoyLatham
Posts: 4,488
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10/6/2011 2:40:07 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
I don't think simplified spelling is worth the effort. Logic supports the theory, but there are over two billion users of the English language who would have to be retrained, and millions of books that would have to be transcribed. How many common words have illogical spelling? I'm guessing a few hundred. There would still be many grammatical irregularities to learn (go <>went, was<>is>will be, etc.) The spelling irregularities are a minor part of the problem.

Compare English to Chinese. An educated person must learn 20,000 phonetically arbitrary ideograms. Its amazing that it's done at all. The task of learning a few hundred irregular spellings cannot be an enormous problem if a task a thousand times more difficult is accomplished.
F-16_Fighting_Falcon
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10/6/2011 2:46:56 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 10/6/2011 2:34:32 PM, brian_eggleston wrote:
At 10/6/2011 2:21:28 PM, F-16_Fighting_Falcon wrote:
Brian, I don't understand how saw and soar could possibly be pronounced the same?

Saw, sore and soar are all pronounced the same in British English and rhyme with war, aren't they in American English?

Um no, they aren't.
Sore/Soar have an r at the end.
kohai
Posts: 380
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10/6/2011 3:07:56 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
Here is another issue

We drive on a parkway and park on a driveway? What is the logic behind that?

A king rules a kingdom, so why doesn't a queen rule a queendom?
1) Whatever has contradictory attributes does not exist.
2) The Biblical God has contradictory attributes.
3) Therefore, the Biblical God does not exist
Logic_on_rails
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10/6/2011 8:11:21 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
The difficulty in simplifying English spelling isn't worth the effort. If the US couldn't get the metric system changed there's no way one could ever simplify language.

Of course, we should hand it to the youth of today for their 'passionate interest' in developing a more 'economical and efficient' vocabulary which is used to maximise their communicative abilities in ways such as text speak.

I obviously don't believe in the paragraph directly above, in fact I never resort to such language. I think a better solution is merely to teach people better before getting to issues such as simplifying English.
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