English Spelling Reform
Post Reply
 
Thread Rating:
  • 0 Votes - 0 Average
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
12-02-2016, 02:47 PM
RE: English Spelling Reform
(12-02-2016 02:33 PM)Glossophile Wrote:  Chas, I agree that part of a message's meaning does lie in the component words, but spelling is not an inherent property of any word. "English" and "Ingliç" are both the same word.

Spelling is a property of the written word. I have no idea what you mean by 'inherent' there. Did you mean 'intrinsic'?

Quote:I also agree that my mother tongue ought to be respected (as should any language). So why can't we respect it enough to represent it faithfully and authentically in writing?

I don't consider that respectful.

Quote:Again, it seems that many of the criticisms boil down to a confusion of medium and message. The persistent argument that some meaning or sophistication of expression is lost in simplified spelling is like arguing that upgrading from cassette tapes to MP3s somehow makes the lyrics less meaningful or the melody less nuanced.

Bad analogy. MP3 has lower dynamic range than magnetic tape, LPs, or CDs, so the music will be less nuanced.

If anyone is confusing the medium and the message, it is you. You claim the content does not at all depend on the spelling but that is clearly untrue.
Information is lost, but is lost information that you denigrate so it is not important to you.

Since there is zero chance of this change happening, I'm not going to argue it any longer.
Keep on rockin' the hobby horse. Dodgy

Skepticism is not a position; it is an approach to claims.
Science is not a subject, but a method.
[Image: flagstiny%206.gif]
Visit this user's website Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
12-02-2016, 02:51 PM
RE: English Spelling Reform
(11-02-2016 09:40 PM)Glossophile Wrote:  Undergroundp, much of what you're saying could easily be turned into an argument for reform, just a different kind of reform than what I'm advocating. For example, let's take the words "fair," "bear," "bat," and "right." Each of these words has at least two different meanings. If we take your reasoning to its logical conclusion, we would be quite justified in proposing that we have a different spelling for each meaning. For instance...

fair = just and equitable
phair = carnival or traveling amusement park
phare = beautiful (literary/poetic)

bear = large, omnivorous, plantigrade mammal common in temperate woodlands
bair = carry; endure or tolerate
bere = give birth to

bat = small, nocturnal mammal with membrane wings and echolocative abilities
batt = stick used in baseball
baght = swat like a cat does with its paw

right = correct or morally commendable
right = legal and/or socially contractual entitlement

Now, imagine that these distinctions were a part of standard English orthography and I came forward with a proposal much like the one I'm proposing now. In such a parallel universe, you would most likely count these words among the ones that would become confusing much like those Greek words all pronounced /lipi/.

Meanwhile, in the actual universe, we seem perfectly fine with the ambiguity of "fair," "bear," "bat," and "right." These cases and many others don't seem to cause any great amount of confusion. What's more, there are cases in English where a homograph not only fails to alleviate the ambivalence of a homophone but also actually creates ambivalence where it doesn't even exist in the spoken form. One classic example is "tear," which could be /tɪə˞/ (eye secretion) or /tɛə˞/ (rip or shear). A phonemic spelling reform would actually split this spelling and any other one like it into two or more respectively clearer forms.

Your examples are not really to the point. The main reason we don't confuse the words above are because at least two of the meanings you gave for each one are etymologically related. Fair-just and fair-beautiful both come from a word that means "beautiful". Bear-give birth to is somewhat of a metaphor of bear-carry. Bat-verb and bat-object are also very obviously related. Right-entitlement is something that is right-just/correct for people. Now, a bear, a bat and a fair are things you wouldn't confuse in conversation, at least not with their homographs.

The case of "tear" is one of the very rare ones that confuse people.

(11-02-2016 09:40 PM)Glossophile Wrote:  In order for what I call the Homophone Argument to be valid, you would have to offer some objective linguistic (i.e. not historical) criteria for determining which homophones should be split and which ones are perfectly acceptable. Then, you would have to agree not only to merge any and all words that are thus shown to be manageable but also to split any and all words that are selected by that criteria for splitting, even if it means deviating from current conventions in either direction (towards more or less differentiation).

All I'm saying is that there is a reason a word is spelled as it is. Spelling is not arbitrary. And I've just shown you that the "different meanings" you ascribed to the words above were not that different after all.

And I'm really not sure I understand what you're talking about here.

(11-02-2016 09:40 PM)Glossophile Wrote:  If your ultimate goal in making this argument is to support the orthographic status quo in its entirety, as I suspect it is, then your challenge seems even greater. Not only must your criteria be objective and synchronically linguistic, but the lines that they draw must happen to precisely match current rules.

Why should I care about the orthographic status quo? What I care about is preserving language complexity (and yes, even spelling complexity) because language complexity = complex meaning = complex thinking = progress.

(11-02-2016 09:40 PM)Glossophile Wrote:  Unless you can do this, then the Homophone Argument is just special pleading. Why is a word like "fair" just fine, while using "nait" for both of the following meanings is apparently going too far?

1) period of time when the sky is dark due to the sun being behind the relevant hemisphere of the Earth
2) aristocratic warrior of medieval Europe or any similarly feudal culture.

Because you can talk about a "knighting ceremony", but you can't talk about a "nighting ceremony". As I noted before, the words you used had similar meanings, thus their being homophones does not cause confusion (and if you said you'd organize a fair, who would be confused?), but a "knight" has nothing to do with "night".

(11-02-2016 09:40 PM)Glossophile Wrote:  Sorry, but I still don't understand this sentiment. Speech does not distinguish between homophones, but spelling does. Does that mean that a written text becomes linguistically simpler as soon as it is read aloud? If the spoken form can convey adequate meaning, even in the case of lofty and/or complicated concepts, why wouldn't an orthography that reliably encodes those spoken form be any less clear? If one can recognize the word "filosøfi" or "dimokrøsi," why would those particular spellings make the ideas that they represent any harder to discuss? Any word that we can say, we can spell phonemically (e.g. Søkrætik, Pleitønizøm, ripablik, ilekçøn).

The spoken form can convey adequate meaning because if someone does not understand you, you'll be right there to explain. Can you ask Aristotle what he meant when he talked about "ethos"? Would it be so easy for you to find out what it means, had the word not retained its spelling 2500 years later?

If you change the spelling of a word now, its meaning may subsequently change and then be lost forever. This is a thing that actually happens.

I think you're missing my point here.

(11-02-2016 09:40 PM)Glossophile Wrote:  Again, I don't understand this sentiment. I could write an explanation of Einstein's special or general theory of relativity in reformed spelling, and it wouldn't detract in the slightest from its genius. You seem to be confusing the medium with the message again. Have I diminished the eloquence or importance of the Declaration of Independence by transcribing it into a phonemic spelling? I don't see how I could.

Probably not, but as I said above, when you simplify language, meanings are lost. The simplifications in my language the past two millenia have made it so that many Ancient Greek words need to be interpreted in phrases (because there are no equivalent words in Modern Greek) and still, their meaning seems confusing and vague to us, because we have lost the concepts these words represented. We can only guess what they may have meant through etymology, which would be utterly destroyed if such a simplification in spelling took place in Greek.

Now, you may say, "why do we even care about what Ancient Greeks meant anyway and why should this be so important?"
Well, as I mentioned before, spellings affect meaning. Meaning affects the way you think. I recently talked about English using the same word for two separate concepts, for which Greek has two words; love and eros.

American people may talk about "love" and mean anything from loving your family, friends, spouse, to even a teenage fling. Greeks definitely won't. In my language, the concepts of love as in deep affection and love as in infatuation, passion or desire are distinct and thus affect even the way we think about them.

This is just a simple example to show you that words affect the way we think. By simplifying the spelling, you simplify the meaning and thus the very way our brain works. Don't you think that is important?

Complex thoughts require complex vocabulary. You may say that vocabulary can be complex without complex spelling, but I think I've provided enough evidence so far to show that once you simplify spelling, meanings are lost. The brain has a special way of assigning meanings to words and etymology is important.

(11-02-2016 09:40 PM)Glossophile Wrote:  It's a rather poor reflection at the moment, and I think my mother tongue deserves a better mirror.

Most people who like English like it for its randomness. Complex words are pleasing to the eye. Plus English is still one of the easiest languages to learn in the world. I honestly fail to find a reason to make any of its components simpler.

Unless there's clear evidence that easier spelling means better communication and higher literacy rates (and there's probably none), there seems to be no reason whatsoever to change anything.

Also, and sorry if I missed it your reply to it, as others have said, your idea of reform does not account for all the different accents that people in a single country may have.

(12-02-2016 12:25 PM)Stevil Wrote:  When I write "minute" am I talking about the passage of time or something that is physically small? these two words are pronounced differently but have the same spelling. Go figure?

Yes, but a minute is minute Wink

(12-02-2016 02:12 PM)Stevil Wrote:  In my opinion, literacy trumps some people's insistence that the history of words is important.

Except this is not the argument we've presented so far against it at all.

(12-02-2016 02:27 PM)Stevil Wrote:  The wealth and prosperity of a country might also have something to do with it, the education on offer too? Many factors are afoot.

Exactly. That is why despite the almost identical level of phoneme-to-letter transparency in Finnish and Greek, Finnish people learn how to spell much faster and are generally more literate than Greeks.

"Behind every great pirate, there is a great butt."
-Guybrush Threepwood-
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
12-02-2016, 02:56 PM
RE: English Spelling Reform
(12-02-2016 02:38 PM)yakherder Wrote:  I've studied both and honestly found very little difference in the time required to pick up writing (or to forget the characters if I stopped using them :/). The number of stokes is less, which helps in some characters, but this is often accomplished by removing or altering radicals that otherwise had meaning within the character. Removing the heart radical from the character for love, for example. This can actually make it more difficult by making the strokes used seem more random.
Chinese has something like 50,000 to 60,000 characters.
English has 26 characters.

A complex English character is something like "K" if you can call that complex.
A complex Chinese character is
[Image: chinese_character.jpg]

Sure if you know the history of the character and radicals etc then perhaps it can make it easier for you to remember, but you have to spend the time learning the history or the character and radicals which requires more classes, more study.

Where English uses phonetics, Chinese is more akin to cryptic crosswords where "big learn" means university or "electric brain" means computer.

You may think that the English characters are random, but hell, there are only 26 to remember and they have very few strokes. 26 is easier to remember than 50,000.
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
12-02-2016, 02:59 PM (This post was last modified: 12-02-2016 03:07 PM by undergroundp.)
RE: English Spelling Reform
(12-02-2016 02:43 PM)Stevil Wrote:  The written words aren't all that important. The message being conveyed is what is important.

The following is perfectly readable and understandable, and easy to read quickly. The message is conveyed even though the written words have been bastardised and buggered.

http://www.ecenglish.com/learnenglish/le...n-you-read
"I cnduo't bvleiee taht I culod aulaclty uesdtannrd waht I was rdnaieg. Unisg the icndeblire pweor of the hmuan mnid, aocdcrnig to rseecrah at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it dseno't mttaer in waht oderr the lterets in a wrod are, the olny irpoamtnt tihng is taht the frsit and lsat ltteer be in the rhgit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it whoutit a pboerlm. Tihs is bucseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey ltteer by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Aaznmig, huh? Yaeh and I awlyas tghhuot slelinpg was ipmorantt! See if yuor fdreins can raed tihs too."

Is the following readable and understandable? Why (and to what extent)? Why not?

þis kyng lay at Camylot vpon Krystmasse
With mony luflych lorde, ledez of þe best,
Rekenly of þe Rounde Table alle þo rich breþer,
With rych reuel ory3t and rechles merþes.

"Behind every great pirate, there is a great butt."
-Guybrush Threepwood-
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
12-02-2016, 03:04 PM
RE: English Spelling Reform
(12-02-2016 02:47 PM)Chas Wrote:  
Quote:Again, it seems that many of the criticisms boil down to a confusion of medium and message. The persistent argument that some meaning or sophistication of expression is lost in simplified spelling is like arguing that upgrading from cassette tapes to MP3s somehow makes the lyrics less meaningful or the melody less nuanced.

Bad analogy. MP3 has lower dynamic range than magnetic tape, LPs, or CDs, so the music will be less nuanced.
But of course, in his analogy, he was focusing on the lyrics rather than the dynamic range, analogies are used for a specific comparison, if you point to another aspect which wasn't the focus of the analogy then you completely miss the point of analogies.
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
12-02-2016, 03:07 PM
RE: English Spelling Reform
(12-02-2016 03:04 PM)Stevil Wrote:  
(12-02-2016 02:47 PM)Chas Wrote:  Bad analogy. MP3 has lower dynamic range than magnetic tape, LPs, or CDs, so the music will be less nuanced.
But of course, in his analogy, he was focusing on the lyrics rather than the dynamic range, analogies are used for a specific comparison, if you point to another aspect which wasn't the focus of the analogy then you completely miss the point of analogies.

Did you miss the part where he said "or the melody less nuanced"?

"Behind every great pirate, there is a great butt."
-Guybrush Threepwood-
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
[+] 2 users Like undergroundp's post
12-02-2016, 03:10 PM
RE: English Spelling Reform
(12-02-2016 02:56 PM)Stevil Wrote:  
(12-02-2016 02:38 PM)yakherder Wrote:  I've studied both and honestly found very little difference in the time required to pick up writing (or to forget the characters if I stopped using them :/). The number of stokes is less, which helps in some characters, but this is often accomplished by removing or altering radicals that otherwise had meaning within the character. Removing the heart radical from the character for love, for example. This can actually make it more difficult by making the strokes used seem more random.
Chinese has something like 50,000 to 60,000 characters.
English has 26 characters.

A complex English character is something like "K" if you can call that complex.
A complex Chinese character is
[Image: chinese_character.jpg]

Sure if you know the history of the character and radicals etc then perhaps it can make it easier for you to remember, but you have to spend the time learning the history or the character and radicals which requires more classes, more study.

Where English uses phonetics, Chinese is more akin to cryptic crosswords where "big learn" means university or "electric brain" means computer.

You may think that the English characters are random, but hell, there are only 26 to remember and they have very few strokes. 26 is easier to remember than 50,000.

True, but there are only just over 200 radicals. While this is still a lot more than letters in the English alphabet, they can still be learned in a matter of months. And as someone who has studied them, when I look at that complex character, I don't see a daunting puzzle. I see 11 distinct radicals, two of which are repeated.

'Murican Canadian
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
12-02-2016, 03:10 PM
RE: English Spelling Reform
(12-02-2016 02:59 PM)undergroundp Wrote:  Is the following readable and understandable? Why (and at what extent)? Why not?

þis kyng lay at Camylot vpon Krystmasse
With mony luflych lorde, ledez of þe best,
Rekenly of þe Rounde Table alle þo rich breþer,
With rych reuel ory3t and rechles merþes.
Nope, I couldn't make out most of that.

This king lay at Camelot upon Christmas with music by lorde, listening to the best of, Renkly of the Round Table and the rich barber, with Rich Reuel on the bag pipes.
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
12-02-2016, 03:12 PM
RE: English Spelling Reform
(12-02-2016 03:07 PM)undergroundp Wrote:  
(12-02-2016 03:04 PM)Stevil Wrote:  But of course, in his analogy, he was focusing on the lyrics rather than the dynamic range, analogies are used for a specific comparison, if you point to another aspect which wasn't the focus of the analogy then you completely miss the point of analogies.

Did you miss the part where he said "or the melody less nuanced"?
Melody is very different to dynamic range. Dynamic range is the contrast in volume. In particular it means the drums sound less punchy. It doesn't affect the melody at all.
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
12-02-2016, 03:12 PM
RE: English Spelling Reform
(12-02-2016 03:04 PM)Stevil Wrote:  
(12-02-2016 02:47 PM)Chas Wrote:  Bad analogy. MP3 has lower dynamic range than magnetic tape, LPs, or CDs, so the music will be less nuanced.
But of course, in his analogy, he was focusing on the lyrics rather than the dynamic range, analogies are used for a specific comparison, if you point to another aspect which wasn't the focus of the analogy then you completely miss the point of analogies.

He said 'lyrics and melody'.

Skepticism is not a position; it is an approach to claims.
Science is not a subject, but a method.
[Image: flagstiny%206.gif]
Visit this user's website Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
Post Reply
Forum Jump: