English Spelling Reform
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12-02-2016, 07:34 PM (This post was last modified: 13-02-2016 12:56 AM by Glossophile.)
RE: English Spelling Reform
(12-02-2016 02:51 PM)undergroundp Wrote:  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.

Those connections are arguably too obscure to be relevant to general-purpose written communication. Some of them may seem obvious once they're pointed out, but would they readily occur to someone who's just trying to write something that will accurately convey his meaning? The case of "fair" is the worst because, again, it relies on history. What average Joe or Jane is going to know that both adjectival uses of "fair" come from the same source word?

But that's all somewhat beside the point, since there are likely plenty of other examples that are not connected in any tractable way.

(12-02-2016 02:51 PM)undergroundp Wrote:  Now, a bear, a bat and a fair are things you wouldn't confuse in conversation, at least not with their homographs.
[...]
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

Exactly! You're actually proving my point, which is that context very often renders distinctive spelling redundant.

(12-02-2016 02:51 PM)undergroundp Wrote:  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.

I agree with all of this, but there's a part of your equation of sorts that you left out. Apparently, to you, spelling complexity = language complexity (which equals all that other stuff via the Transitive Property), which consequently means that spelling simplicity = language simplicity (which similarly cascades into meaning, thought, etc). That is the part that I think is fundamentally wrong. For any thought or meaning, no matter how lofty or complicated, if it can be expressed in speech, it can be expressed just as well in phonemic spelling (this follows naturally if the spelling is just a cipher for speech). Nothing need be lost.

(12-02-2016 02:51 PM)undergroundp Wrote:  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?

But it hasn't, has it? It was originally ΗΘΟΣ, wasn't it? And no, I can't know precisely what Aristotle had in mind when he used the word, because he's dead. The most archaic spelling in the world won't make him any less dead, nor his original meaning any more accessible to us. We can still understand what he meant to the extent that we can because the word itself passed from Greek into presumably Latin or French and then into English, each time bringing its meaning (or at least a reasonable semblance of it) along with it, even as the spelling changed from its original form. The inherited word then becomes available for use in translations of Aristotle's work.

(12-02-2016 02:51 PM)undergroundp Wrote:  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.

[...]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.

First of all, words and even the associated concepts sometimes fade out of usage in a language with or without spelling reform (or even any writing system at all). Secondly, why would Ancient Greek matter so much to the average modern Greek citizen? I understand that they'd be proud of their heritage, as well they should be, but there are far more practical ways to show that pride than to insist on letting archaisms permeate written discourse. Why do you think Katharevousa eventually lost out to Dimotiki? The only people for whom the ancient etyma ever really matter are people who are almost certainly trained in the classical language anyway. So again I ask, why should a tool meant for the general populace (i.e. literacy) be so disproportionately deferential to the esoteric interests of a relative few?

(12-02-2016 02:51 PM)undergroundp Wrote:  Now, you may say, 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.

The Sapir-Whorff hypothesis only holds true to a lesser degree than what was initially thought, and certainly not to any degree that I think would justify orthographic conservatism on the basis that you've proposed. Americans and other English speakers really have no trouble conceiving of the distinction between platonic love and romantic love. As I've just demonstrated, there are even words to differentiate them when context doesn't make it clear (and that doesn't even count the more colloquial ways, like "just as friends").

Moreover, how is this relevant to spelling? The distinction that you're talking about would remain in Greek no matter how it was spelled, and the same can be said of English "platonic" and "romantic" (or, as I would spell them, "pløtonik" and "roumæntik"). Even if the Sapir-Whorff hypothesis were true in a stronger and more deterministic sense, it would still be language itself that would determine thought, not how the language happens to be encoded in writing.

Finally, you can take any pair of languages, and in each one you could probably find a word whose meaning encompasses that of two or more separate words in the other. There's nothing special or telling about that.

(12-02-2016 02:51 PM)undergroundp Wrote:  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.

You seem to be confusing "meanings" with etymological trivia and/or minimizing the aid of context in clarifying homophones (or at least the ones that aren't already spelled identically in traditional spelling, which seems to me a double standard).

(12-02-2016 02:51 PM)undergroundp Wrote:  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.

Well, in addition to the Unifon experiment that I mentioned, there's also this 2003 study.

As for the diversity of dialects, I did respond to this. Here's the relevant comment:

glossaphile Wrote:What I've proposed is to base standard reformed spelling on a roughly equal compromise between the standard British and standard American broadcast accents. It would be politically neutral and at least passively understood by the widest range of people. No individual speaker's own regional dialect will be a perfect match for this hybrid accent, but the idea is to spread the discrepancies thinly across the English speaking world, so that from the perspective of any individual speaker, the divergences will be much fewer and further apart than the multitude of universal difficulties that currently hinder people across all regional varieties.

Now, with regards to the music playback analogy, as Matt Finney has already pointed out, the specifics don't really matter. You could simply substitute any older, lower-fidelity format with a newer, higher-fidelity format of your choice (maybe vinyl records and some digital format that does have high dynamic range) into the analogy, and my point would still be made.

The only sacred truth in science is that there are no sacred truths. – Carl Sagan
Sōla vēritās sancta in philosophiā nātūrālī est absentia vēritātum sanctārum.
Ἡ μόνη ἱερᾱ̀ ἀληθείᾱ ἐν φυσικῇ φιλοσοφίᾳ ἐστίν ἡ ἱερῶν ἀληθειῶν σπάνις.
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12-02-2016, 09:23 PM
RE: English Spelling Reform
(12-02-2016 03:33 PM)onlinebiker Wrote:  
(12-02-2016 02:10 PM)yakherder Wrote:  Only Odin should be capitalized. All others should be footnotes.

I never asked --- have you read "The Long Dark Tea-time of the Soul: by Douglas Adams????

Odin's in it, as is his unruly son who gets superglued to a floor.....

Much fun....

I haven't, but looking at it on Amazon right now and it seems like my kind of story. I'll throw it on my Kindle and check it out some time.

'Murican Canadian
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12-02-2016, 10:25 PM
RE: English Spelling Reform
(12-02-2016 06:21 PM)Chas Wrote:  
(12-02-2016 05:56 PM)Stevil Wrote:  His analogy is fine. Compression does not cause any nuances on the melody.

You don't understand compression nor nuance.

Where is the nuance? In the data. Compression causes data loss. Q.E.D.
I have provided examples of what I would consider to be nuances on the melody.
Use of tremelo, vibrato, staccato etc, these things change the pitch and/or the length of the note. Melody is based on pitch and length/timing. You make subtle changes to those things then you have nuances on the melody.

Changes to relative volumes has no impact on the melody.
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13-02-2016, 01:11 AM (This post was last modified: 13-02-2016 01:16 AM by Glossophile.)
RE: English Spelling Reform
Let me try an informal experiment. Below are what I consider some of the most elegant and meaningful words ever spoken.

==========
From this distant vantage point, the Earth might not seem of any particular interest. But for us, it's different. Consider again that dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every superstar, every "supreme" leader, every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there: on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that in glory and triumph they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner. How frequent their misunderstandings! How eager they are to kill one another! How fervent their hatreds! Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.

The Earth is the only world known, so far, to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit? Yes. Settle? Not yet. Like it or not, for the moment, the Earth is where we make our stand. It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we've ever known.
==========

Now, here it is in my reformed spelling system (only one of many that have been proposed).

===========
From ðis distønt væntij point, ði Érþ mait not sím ov eni pørtikyulør intrøst. Bat for as it's difrønt. Kønsidør øgen ðæt dot. Ðæt's hiør. Ðæt's houm. Ðæt's as. On it, evríwan yu lav, evríwan yu nou, evríwan yu evør hérd ov, evri hyúmøn biiñ hu evør woz livd aut ðeør laivz. Ði ægrigøt ov awør joi ænd saførriñ, þauzøndz ov konfidønt rilijønz, aidioløjíz, ænd íkønomik doktrinz, evri hantør ænd forrijør, evri hiørrou ænd kawørd, evri krieitør ænd distroyør ov sivølaizeiçøn, evri kiñ ænd pezønt, evri yañ kapøl in lav, evri maðør ænd fáðør, houpføl caild, inventør ænd iksplorrør, evri tícør ov morrølz, evri kørapt politiçøn, evri súpørstar, evri "súprím" lídør, evri seint ænd sinør in ðø histørri ov awør spíçíz livd ðeør: on ø mout ov dast søspendid in ø sanbím.

Ði Érþ iz ø veri smól steij in ø væst kozmik ørínø. Þink ov ðø rivørz ov blad spild bai ól ðouz jenørrølz ænd empørrørz, sou ðæt in glorri ænd trayømf, ðei kud bikam ðø moumønteri mæstørz ov ø frækçøn ov ø dot. Þink ov ði endløs krüøltíz vizitid bai ði inhæbitønts ov wan kornør ov ðis piksøl on ðø skeørsli distingwiçøbøl inhæbitønts ov sam aðør kornør. Hau fríkwønt ðeør misandørstændiñz! Hau ígør ðei ar tu kil wan ønaðør! Hau férvønt ðeør heitridz! Awør poscørriñz, awør imæjind self-importøns, ðø dilúxøn ðæt wi hæv sam privlijd pøziçøn in ðø yúnivérs ar cælinjd bai ðis point ov peil lait. Awør plænit iz ø lounli spek in ðø greit inveløpiñ kozmik dark. In awør øbskyuørriti, in ól ðis væstnøs, ðeør iz nou hint ðæt help wil kam from elsweør tu seiv as from awørselvz.

Ði Érþ iz ði ounli wérld noun sou far tu harbør laif. Ðeør iz nouweør els, æt líst in ðø niør fyúcør, tu wic awør spíçíz kud maigreit. Vizit? Yes. Setøl? Not yet. Laik it or not, for ðø moumønt, ði Érþ iz weør wi meik awør stænd. It hæz bin sed ðæt østronømi iz ø hambliñ ænd kæriktør-bildiñ ikspiørrïøns. Ðeør iz pørhæps nou betør demønstreiçøn ov ðø foli ov hyúmøn kønsíts ðæn ðis distønt imij ov awør taini wérld. Tu mi, it andørskorz awør risponsibiliti tu diøl mor kaindli wið wan ønaðør ænd tu prizérv ænd ceriç ðø peil blu dot, ði ounli houm wi'v evør noun.
==========

Now, what exactly do you think has been lost in transcription, if anything? I admire and respect Carl Sagan greatly, so I wouldn't dream of doing this if I believed for a second that it diminished the power of his words in any way.

The only sacred truth in science is that there are no sacred truths. – Carl Sagan
Sōla vēritās sancta in philosophiā nātūrālī est absentia vēritātum sanctārum.
Ἡ μόνη ἱερᾱ̀ ἀληθείᾱ ἐν φυσικῇ φιλοσοφίᾳ ἐστίν ἡ ἱερῶν ἀληθειῶν σπάνις.
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13-02-2016, 01:35 AM
RE: English Spelling Reform
What has been lost is familiarity. I have no desire to learn your new system. Neither do a lot of people. The system that we have works well enough. Appeals to how difficult is is for children or people from China to learn it are not going to make me change my mind. Provide me with a reason why it would be advantageous for *me* to learn it?

We'll love you just the way you are
If you're perfect -- Alanis Morissette
(06-02-2014 03:47 PM)Momsurroundedbyboys Wrote:  And I'm giving myself a conclusion again from all the facepalming.
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13-02-2016, 01:50 AM
RE: English Spelling Reform
A phonemic spelling system is primarily intended for children and non-native speakers. To a hypothetical person who was raised with reformed spelling, the new system would be the one with the greatest familiarity. So loss of familiarity from the perspectives of current readers and writers seems to me a rather short-sighted reason to offer against reform.

If reform is ever implemented, you personally may not necessarily have to learn the new orthography. Old and new codes would coexist probably for a few decades, during much of which everyone would most often get to choose which system they deal with. The idea is that the younger generation(s) would likely develop a preference for the reformed spelling, allowing the traditional orthodoxy to be phased out as they get older and those with such preference become more active and prominent in society.

The only sacred truth in science is that there are no sacred truths. – Carl Sagan
Sōla vēritās sancta in philosophiā nātūrālī est absentia vēritātum sanctārum.
Ἡ μόνη ἱερᾱ̀ ἀληθείᾱ ἐν φυσικῇ φιλοσοφίᾳ ἐστίν ἡ ἱερῶν ἀληθειῶν σπάνις.
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13-02-2016, 02:16 AM
RE: English Spelling Reform
What are the advantages of your system for anyone? I can easily read what you wrote because I am familiar with standard spelling and the relationship between letters and sounds seems pretty straightforward, but it doesn't seem *better* than the current system, just *different*.

It seems like there are still rules for spelling to be learnt, only now we have a whole bunch of accents to add to letters as well as the standard Roman ones.

We'll love you just the way you are
If you're perfect -- Alanis Morissette
(06-02-2014 03:47 PM)Momsurroundedbyboys Wrote:  And I'm giving myself a conclusion again from all the facepalming.
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13-02-2016, 02:58 AM (This post was last modified: 13-02-2016 03:10 AM by Glossophile.)
RE: English Spelling Reform
(13-02-2016 02:16 AM)morondog Wrote:  What are the advantages of your system for anyone? I can easily read what you wrote because I am familiar with standard spelling and the relationship between letters and sounds seems pretty straightforward, but it doesn't seem *better* than the current system, just *different*.

It seems like there are still rules for spelling to be learnt, only now we have a whole bunch of accents to add to letters as well as the standard Roman ones.

There are still some rules (fewer than 10) to be learned aside from the basic mapping of sounds to symbols and vice-versa, but crucially, those rules hold true invariably. Not a single word will ever violate them. These are not just generalizations like those found in traditional spelling and touted as so-called "rules" in spite of their exceptions. These are true rules, and once known, they can be used to easily derive accurate spellings of any English words without the need for rote memorization.

Independent literacy researcher Masha Bell identifies 83 "rules" that govern English spelling, but she also states that a whopping 72 of them have at least some exceptions. Depending on how they're expressed, there are about 7 rules in my system, all of them completely inviolable and able to be stated in two lines or less of 12-point Times New Roman font on an 8.5x11" page with standard margins. All of the unconventional letters and diacritics necessary to type in my system are available on the US-International keyboard layout, a functionality that comes pre-installed on most modern PCs and can be activated within a minute or two with no need for any specialized hardware or software. In fact, their accessibility via this utility was one of the key criteria in deciding which extra characters and marks to use.

If you want to get a feel for how my system works, I invite you to peruse the brief tutorial on my website or the downloadable PDF guide. The latter is a bit more generous with examples.

If you do read any of the above, I do not expect it to change your mind, but at least our discussion can get even more interesting with you being able to critique the specifics of my system as well as the generalities of reform as a whole. That applies to anyone who is willing to learn more about what I'm proposing.

The only sacred truth in science is that there are no sacred truths. – Carl Sagan
Sōla vēritās sancta in philosophiā nātūrālī est absentia vēritātum sanctārum.
Ἡ μόνη ἱερᾱ̀ ἀληθείᾱ ἐν φυσικῇ φιλοσοφίᾳ ἐστίν ἡ ἱερῶν ἀληθειῶν σπάνις.
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13-02-2016, 03:16 AM
RE: English Spelling Reform
(13-02-2016 01:11 AM)Glossophile Wrote:  Now, here it is in my reformed spelling system (only one of many that have been proposed).
Wow, seems pretty interesting to me. I'll need to look through your tutorial and guide before I can begin to appreciate the beauty in it.
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13-02-2016, 03:29 AM
RE: English Spelling Reform
... Wot iz RLS?

Well, since you've gone to so much trouble, and since you're not claiming to be God or whatever other strange thing the next crank is going to say, I will peruse your website - at my leisure Wink Despite my negative comments so far language and so forth is interesting to me, so at least you have my vote for having thought about this very carefully.

However, before I even do so, even if your system is demonstrably better (and I have no doubt it is) than current, I think the "massive installed user base" - if I can borrow a term from computing - of people who are using the old system, is going to be a huge hurdle for you to overcome.

Not only do you have to show that your system is better, you have to show that the cost of converting to it is worth it.

Your model of kids and others being taught it at school - I don't know if that's viable. It will take a long time to reach critical mass anyway.

We'll love you just the way you are
If you're perfect -- Alanis Morissette
(06-02-2014 03:47 PM)Momsurroundedbyboys Wrote:  And I'm giving myself a conclusion again from all the facepalming.
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