English Spelling Reform
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14-02-2016, 01:04 PM
RE: English Spelling Reform
(14-02-2016 12:58 PM)ClydeLee Wrote:  
(14-02-2016 12:45 PM)GirlyMan Wrote:  



bemore turned me on to Mooji. Blame him.



Good so I'm now aware to blame bemore not you when I have my youtube subscription box filled with 15 videos of his stuff because they decide to mass upload in mornings all in one big push.

Yes.

#sigh
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14-02-2016, 01:44 PM
RE: English Spelling Reform
(14-02-2016 11:58 AM)Stevil Wrote:  Yes, and you demonstrated that you don't know what a melody is when you started talking about bells.

...so bells can't have a melody? Consider

(14-02-2016 11:58 AM)Stevil Wrote:  Like I say, lets forget about melody, seeing as it may be unclear for some. But instead focus on his statement that the message in the lyrics are unchanged.

I just told you one post ago that I understand what he was trying to say. We just pointed out that his analogy was flawed. The conversation has moved on since then, I don't understand why you're trying to explain to me something that I just told you I understand.

(14-02-2016 11:58 AM)Stevil Wrote:  When we hear a phrase spoken out loud or written down, in both mediums, the message is the same. We don't need to see it written down, we don't need to see the spelling of it.

Nobody said otherwise.

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14-02-2016, 02:32 PM
RE: English Spelling Reform
(14-02-2016 01:44 PM)undergroundp Wrote:  
(14-02-2016 11:58 AM)Stevil Wrote:  Like I say, lets forget about melody, seeing as it may be unclear for some. But instead focus on his statement that the message in the lyrics are unchanged.

We just pointed out that his analogy was flawed.
His analogy is not flawed, however you state it as if it is a fact.
Your understanding of the term "melody" is what is flawed.

I'm also starting to think that Chas' understanding of what Dynamic Range is (in the context of CD mastering), is flawed. It's not for the purpose of file size compression. It is for the purpose of loudness compression. Allowing them to put the music at a high volume, so it sounds louder to the listener in comparison to other CDs at the same playback settings. It doesn't change the melody, not even slightly.

(14-02-2016 01:44 PM)undergroundp Wrote:  
(14-02-2016 11:58 AM)Stevil Wrote:  When we hear a phrase spoken out loud or written down, in both mediums, the message is the same. We don't need to see it written down, we don't need to see the spelling of it.

Nobody said otherwise.
Well, there you go then, Spelling doesn't matter in terms of comprehension. If it improves literacy then it seems to be win/win.
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14-02-2016, 02:40 PM
RE: English Spelling Reform
(14-02-2016 02:32 PM)Stevil Wrote:  His analogy is not flawed, however you state it as if it is a fact.
Your understanding of the term "melody" is what is flawed.

I'm also starting to think that Chas' understanding of what Dynamic Range is (in the context of CD mastering), is flawed. It's not for the purpose of file size compression. It is for the purpose of loudness compression. Allowing them to put the music at a high volume, so it sounds louder to the listener in comparison to other CDs at the same playback settings. It doesn't change the melody, not even slightly.

Why don't you explain it to me then? Why don't you explain why bells can't have melodies? Does a bell only make one particular sound? Can't you have a melody of bells in a song?

Can't a song be compressed enough to make sounds (and consequently even a whole melody in the background) inaudible?

I never said the pitch or the notes change.

(14-02-2016 02:32 PM)Stevil Wrote:  Well, there you go then, Spelling doesn't matter in terms of comprehension. If it improves literacy then it seems to be win/win.

...ignoring all the arguments I have presented against it.

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14-02-2016, 03:42 PM (This post was last modified: 14-02-2016 03:57 PM by Glossophile.)
RE: English Spelling Reform
(14-02-2016 05:51 AM)undergroundp Wrote:  I've actually often had to read a sentence more than once to understand it because there was a simple spelling mistake in it. Both in Greek and English.

That's odd. I can't say it never happens to me, but it's quite rare for a misspelling to trip me up to anything near that extent. Even in French, I barely stumble at all when people use the past participle in place of the homophonous infinitive. I notice it, of course, but the mental adjustment is practically instantaneous.

(14-02-2016 05:51 AM)undergroundp Wrote:  That extra split second it takes you to process the sentence with the spelling mistake is as important as the whole alleged problem of literacy you're trying to present.

How do you figure that?

(14-02-2016 05:51 AM)undergroundp Wrote:  For the sake of the argument, I tried to find a word I didn't know to see if I can deduce its meaning.
So, the word is λυμεώνας (one who brings destruction). It's quite easy to tell what it means, because its root λύμη (destruction), although ancient, forms the modern word λυμαίνομαι (cause destruction).

Now, if that word was transcribed as "λιμεόνας", we would have two problems:

- We wouldn't be able to tell if the λιμ part came from λύμη (destruction), λιμήν (port) or λοιμός (famine).
- We would have more trouble distinguishing the gender and type of the noun (if we could distinguish it from an adjective) because the ending -ώνας also gives grammatical information.

I'm not going to pretend to know your language better than you, but wouldn't a word derived from λιμήν use the genitive stem λιμέν- as the root? According to the WordReference.Com dictionary, even the modern Greek nominative form uses it. Feel free to enlighten me if I'm missing something here.

With respect to your broader point, wouldn't context solve many of these root ambiguities in much the same way as it does for some whole words (e.g. English "bear")? Plus, did you have to consult a dictionary to confirm your prediction as to the word's meaning? If so, what have the morphological clues really spared you?

Nevertheless, I am willing to concede that, if root homophony is as prevalent as you suggest, a strictly 1:1 mapping of symbol to sound may not be ideal for a language like Greek.

But two important points remain. First, I suspect that English lacks sufficient root homophony to justify its polyvalence. Second, while the spelling of a spoken form cannot always be predicted from sound alone in Greek, the pronunciation of a particular written form is predictable from spelling alone (again, correct me if I'm wrong). English, on the other hand, cannot even claim the latter advantage. So even if the reform allowed for different spellings of the same sound for the sake of homophone differentiation, shouldn't the same spelling always make the same sound, at least?

(14-02-2016 05:51 AM)undergroundp Wrote:  Well yes, there's no reason a spelling reform would hinder that process, I was just saying, even when you try to simplify and abstract, language may need to go back to complexity. The fact that the word me does not work after the word between is the result of trying to simplify the word (from εμού to μου) to make it easier, but in the process stripping it off of its meaning by making it identical to a possessive pronoun (μου/my).

So? In English, the feminine object and genitive pronouns look and sound identical (i.e. "her"), but that doesn't seem to cause any confusion. More to your actual point, though, notice that you said language may need to go back to complexity, not spelling. If a new pronoun is emerging or if an old one is making a comeback, a phonemic spelling system can simply encode the sound of that pronoun, and whatever extra clarity it brings to the spoken form will automatically be brought to the written form as well.

(14-02-2016 05:51 AM)undergroundp Wrote:  Oh, so now cultural heritage is important? Tongue

I never said it wasn't. What I do contend is that there are better ways to reflect heritage. First of all, the heritage reflected in far too many English spellings is paradoxically anything but English (e.g. French, Latin, Greek, etc). Secondly, the use of letters like 'þ' not only doesn't clash with the goal of orthographic regularity, but actually helps accomplish it. It both contributes to consistency in spelling and emblazons English writing with an emblem of its ancient roots. It's a way to have our cake and eat it too! In fact, I think using such emblematic characters is a more profound way of showing linguistic patriotism than comparatively superficial arrangements of more generic symbols.

(14-02-2016 05:51 AM)undergroundp Wrote:  Have you heard about copyrights? Tongue

Given that the reform would be a cooperative endeavor that publishers would eventually have a stake in, I would imagine that some agreement or compromise could be reached for the greater good. If not, then the feature that uploads new transcriptions to a digital library is not critical.

(14-02-2016 05:51 AM)undergroundp Wrote:  Yes, in the case of such complex and hard languages as Chinese, not in the case of simple, international languages such as English.

I think you're confusing the script with the language it represents. Mandarin itself is actually even more of an analytic (i.e. morphologically simple) language than English.

(14-02-2016 05:51 AM)undergroundp Wrote:  ...because Greek dialects are so many and so diverse that I even change the way I speak when I go back to my hometown, which has no "official" dialect. We share the exact same language and spelling with Cypriots, yet when they use their own dialects, we can't even make out words.

The difference here is, all these dialects have evolved despite the spelling because that is just how they pronounce the words. When a man from Crete reads the word καπάκι (kapaki) as καπάτσι (kapachi) it is not because he thinks the letter "κ" represents the sound "ch", it's just the way he pronounces it.

And that's exactly analogous to how I envision the situation with reformed English spelling. For example, one feature of Australian English is a lowering of the diphthong /eɪ/, as in "cake," to /æɪ/. Now if an Australian were to read the word "keik" as if it were "kæik," it wouldn't necessarily be because he/she thought that 'ei' represented the 'æi' sound (or even that 'e' represented the 'æ' sound), but rather, it would just be the way he/she pronounces it.

(14-02-2016 05:51 AM)undergroundp Wrote:  And you have yet to present compelling evidence for advantages of such a change that would render any disadvantages insignificant.

Children taking 1/2 or even 1/3 of the time it currently takes them to attain foundational literacy isn't advantage enough for you, especially in a culture that could really use a boost to its educational and intellectual capital?

As for millions of people "taking one for the team," I believe that this is the primary persuasive challenge of the spelling reform advocate, and I will admit that it is an extremely ambitious goal, but I think it's worth the attempt.

As for the musical playback analogy, despite the fact that my choice of specific formats to compare may have been unfortunate, I think you're all intelligent enough to understand what I was trying to say. Like Matt Finney and I have both pointed out, you can simply restate the analogy with a comparison between two formats of your choice (e.g. vinyl records to cassette tapes), maybe with the newer one indeed having better dynamic range, and my point would be made. Here's the analogy in more general terms.

Claiming that some meaning or sophistication of expression is lost in reformed spelling is like claiming that upgrading from an older, lower-fidelity/resolution/range audio medium to a more modern, higher-fidelity/resolution/range audio somehow makes the lyrics less meaningful or the melody less nuanced.

Chas, feel free to plug in any older format along with the overall highest-quality modern format you can think of into the above formula, and my point should be both clear and valid. While I admit to perhaps choosing exemplary formats poorly, this tangent about what exactly constitutes "melody" is just nitpicky.

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14-02-2016, 03:54 PM
RE: English Spelling Reform
(14-02-2016 02:40 PM)undergroundp Wrote:  Why don't you explain it to me then? Why don't you explain why bells can't have melodies? Does a bell only make one particular sound? Can't you have a melody of bells in a song?
Oh, my.

Yes you can play a melody on bells if you have lots of bells tuned for different pitches (notes). But this is beside the point.


(14-02-2016 02:40 PM)undergroundp Wrote:  Can't a song be compressed enough to make sounds (and consequently even a whole melody in the background) inaudible?
If you turn the volume off, then off course that impacts the melody. With no sound, there is no melody.
Are you stating that as a consequence of digitising sound from the master tapes onto a CD medium that it is inevitable that some of the melodies notes will be inaudible? Do you call that a nuance on the melody as a result of the CD medium?
Is this your issue with Glossophile's analogy?

As far as I understand it from Chas' issue is that he expects that the "information" has changed and in particular that there has been "information loss". And this is true, there is information loss when converting analogue to digital. This has nothing to do with compressing for Dynamic Range, but lets just assume he is talking about converting from analogue to digital. Some aspects of the sound quality have been affected. The sound has changed slightly. But the notes still remain, their pitch is preserved, their timing is preserved. So, although the music has been impacted, the melody has not.
We still recognise the song, because the melody is the same, we might just notice that it doesn't seem as crisp as on vinyl.
It doesn't matter if you are playing guitar or piano or flute or bells. It still might be possible to play the same melody on all these instruments. As long as the instrument allows you to be true to the pitch and the timing. You get those two things right, then you get the melody right.

If you want to put a nuance on the melody, then you might want to alter the timing or alter some of the notes. A human often puts "feeling" into a song and this can be achieved by shifting the timing ever so subtly. But a computer playing the song will do it with 100% timing. A person might also chose to do a staccato (which alters the duration/timing) rather than a quarter note. They might choose to do a vibrato (which alters the pitch), they might do a trill (which alters the pitch and timing). If they do these things then they are putting nuances onto the melody.
If they do volume swells, this is a change in the sound, but not a change in the melody. If however a note is completely removed (i.e. volume = 0) then this would count as a change in the melody. But this is a very obscure and extreme objection. Why do you assume that a whole note will disappear simply because of digitising analogue music for a CD medium?

When looking at a analogy does it make sense to go to such an extreme level to reject the analogy? Can't you simply take the analogy for what message it is trying to convey rather than trying as hard as you can to claim that the analogy is invalid?




(14-02-2016 02:40 PM)undergroundp Wrote:  I never said the pitch or the notes change.
You need the pitch or the timing to change in order for the melody to be impacted.



(14-02-2016 02:40 PM)undergroundp Wrote:  ...ignoring all the arguments I have presented against it.
I did a degree in Computer and Mathematical science. I'm no literary expert. I'll leave that discussion up to you and Glossophile.

From my (simple) perspective, if verbal communication is adequate and if writing can recreate verbal communication then it is adequate (despite the various spelling). If a person mis-spells something then that doesn't necessarily impact my ability to comprehend the message behind what I am reading.

Do I get confused when a USA person writes "color" instead of "colour" or "catalog" instead of "catalogue" or "categorize" instead of "categorise"?

My concerns with Glossophile's system is with regards to people's respective accents, and the fact that accents change. And I am also wondering about the impact for deaf people.
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14-02-2016, 09:16 PM
RE: English Spelling Reform
(14-02-2016 03:54 PM)Stevil Wrote:  
(14-02-2016 02:40 PM)undergroundp Wrote:  Why don't you explain it to me then? Why don't you explain why bells can't have melodies? Does a bell only make one particular sound? Can't you have a melody of bells in a song?
Oh, my.

Yes you can play a melody on bells if you have lots of bells tuned for different pitches (notes). But this is beside the point.


(14-02-2016 02:40 PM)undergroundp Wrote:  Can't a song be compressed enough to make sounds (and consequently even a whole melody in the background) inaudible?
If you turn the volume off, then off course that impacts the melody. With no sound, there is no melody.
Are you stating that as a consequence of digitising sound from the master tapes onto a CD medium that it is inevitable that some of the melodies notes will be inaudible? Do you call that a nuance on the melody as a result of the CD medium?
Is this your issue with Glossophile's analogy?

As far as I understand it from Chas' issue is that he expects that the "information" has changed and in particular that there has been "information loss". And this is true, there is information loss when converting analogue to digital. This has nothing to do with compressing for Dynamic Range, but lets just assume he is talking about converting from analogue to digital. Some aspects of the sound quality have been affected. The sound has changed slightly. But the notes still remain, their pitch is preserved, their timing is preserved. So, although the music has been impacted, the melody has not.
We still recognise the song, because the melody is the same, we might just notice that it doesn't seem as crisp as on vinyl.
It doesn't matter if you are playing guitar or piano or flute or bells. It still might be possible to play the same melody on all these instruments. As long as the instrument allows you to be true to the pitch and the timing. You get those two things right, then you get the melody right.

If you want to put a nuance on the melody, then you might want to alter the timing or alter some of the notes. A human often puts "feeling" into a song and this can be achieved by shifting the timing ever so subtly. But a computer playing the song will do it with 100% timing. A person might also chose to do a staccato (which alters the duration/timing) rather than a quarter note. They might choose to do a vibrato (which alters the pitch), they might do a trill (which alters the pitch and timing). If they do these things then they are putting nuances onto the melody.
If they do volume swells, this is a change in the sound, but not a change in the melody. If however a note is completely removed (i.e. volume = 0) then this would count as a change in the melody. But this is a very obscure and extreme objection. Why do you assume that a whole note will disappear simply because of digitising analogue music for a CD medium?

When looking at a analogy does it make sense to go to such an extreme level to reject the analogy? Can't you simply take the analogy for what message it is trying to convey rather than trying as hard as you can to claim that the analogy is invalid?




(14-02-2016 02:40 PM)undergroundp Wrote:  I never said the pitch or the notes change.
You need the pitch or the timing to change in order for the melody to be impacted.



(14-02-2016 02:40 PM)undergroundp Wrote:  ...ignoring all the arguments I have presented against it.
I did a degree in Computer and Mathematical science. I'm no literary expert. I'll leave that discussion up to you and Glossophile.

From my (simple) perspective, if verbal communication is adequate and if writing can recreate verbal communication then it is adequate (despite the various spelling). If a person mis-spells something then that doesn't necessarily impact my ability to comprehend the message behind what I am reading.

Do I get confused when a USA person writes "color" instead of "colour" or "catalog" instead of "catalogue" or "categorize" instead of "categorise"?

My concerns with Glossophile's system is with regards to people's respective accents, and the fact that accents change. And I am also wondering about the impact for deaf people.
How is that a good anology. You've spent sooo much miranderin about a defense and claims of an anology but keep going to those... I can understand words altered easily... yes us functioning adults can.

It's not at all the same when you're talking about a mind that gas already pre-recgonized the concept and grasps the ideas already.

It's about helping those with low literacy and comphrension states views it. Not highly literate adults.

Does a kid who is taught keik know when he comes across cake, quickly know they're the same word so it's no bothersome.

Well you seem to think it's fine if it speeds up development at 4, 5, 6... but what about folks at 8, 9, 10, 11? If not, how quickly are you working to change texts, do you need to? What a 10 year old grasps isn't certainly the latest comparable to an adult aware of the points in how to read if you remove vowels, jumble letters, spell phonetically, or spell with accents... because that adult probably fully grasps the words and ideas more.

"Allow there to be a spectrum in all that you see" - Neil Degrasse Tyson
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14-02-2016, 11:00 PM
RE: English Spelling Reform
Stevil, you may be interested in the following comment (slightly edited here) that I posted in an online discussion group for reform advocates:

Glossaphile Wrote:Furthermore, depending on how regional variants map onto the sounds of the standard accent, many of them are quite unlikely to be affected at all by the teaching of a more phonemic orthography. In the traditional accent of the American Southeast, for example, the long monophthong /a:/ consistently corresponds to the standard diphthong /aɪ/, which in my proposed system as wall as at least a few others, is usually spelled as 'ai.'

Now, sounds are mostly taught to young children via sample. For instance, the teacher may tell a student, "The special pair 'ai' makes the sound in the middle of the word 'pipe.'" The young speaker of Southeast American English will, upon hearing that, begin learning to map the written diphthong 'ai' onto his native sound /a:/. Provided that he/she does not also conflate it with, for instance, /ɑ:/ or /æ/, which is highly unlikely, that is perfectly fine. From then on, whenever he/she sees 'ai,' he/she will instinctively say /a:/, and whenever he/she hears his/her local compatriots say /a:/, he/she will instinctively write 'ai.'

Imagine, for instance, a schoolchild named Susie in Alabama wishing to write aboute a bike. Her local pronunciation would be /ba:k/. Since she has learned to associate /a:/ with 'ai,' she will readily spell it as "baik." She then e-mails this text to a penpal named Brandon in Ohio. Since he has learned to associate 'ai' with /aɪ/, he will readily decode "baik" into /baɪk/, his own local pronunciation of the same word. The intended meaning is conveyed without any confusion whatsoever, and perhaps more importantly, neither one needed to modify his/her own accent or sound/symbol associations in order to encode or read the message correctly.

A similar example can be imagined for differences between American and British penpals. British English /əʊ/ corresponds unconditionally to American English /oʊ/ (this is the sound traditionally referred to as a "long O"). So, a British child learns to associate /əʊ/ with 'ou,' while an American child learns to associate /oʊ/ with that same sequence of letters. When the British sender wants to convey the word "boat," he/she will write "bout" according to his/her native pronunciation of /bəʊt/. The American, upon receiving it, will decode "bout" according to his/her own accent as /boʊt/, which he/she will then recognize as denoting a vehicle that travels on water. No break in communication whatsoever.

Now, it should be noted that not all dialectal sound variants map onto each other in such a neat 1:1 way, but I think enough of them do that the dialectal variation issue is significantly less daunting than it may seem at first glance.

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Ἡ μόνη ἱερᾱ̀ ἀληθείᾱ ἐν φυσικῇ φιλοσοφίᾳ ἐστίν ἡ ἱερῶν ἀληθειῶν σπάνις.
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16-02-2016, 04:35 PM
RE: English Spelling Reform
Very late reply, sorry about that.

(14-02-2016 03:42 PM)Glossophile Wrote:  
(14-02-2016 05:51 AM)undergroundp Wrote:  That extra split second it takes you to process the sentence with the spelling mistake is as important as the whole alleged problem of literacy you're trying to present.

How do you figure that?

The same way you figured that the problem of literacy is big enough to demand such a change.

(14-02-2016 03:42 PM)Glossophile Wrote:  I'm not going to pretend to know your language better than you, but wouldn't a word derived from λιμήν use the genitive stem λιμέν- as the root? According to the WordReference.Com dictionary, even the modern Greek nominative form uses it. Feel free to enlighten me if I'm missing something here.

Not necessarily. The modern Greek nominative form of the word "port" is actually "λιμάνι". The word "λιμένας" sounds somewhat like Katharevousa and is only used in very specific contexts and words (e.g. "αερολιμένας", the formal word for "airport", instead of the the more common "αεροδρόμιο"). The word for "lake" is also distantly related to it and it's spelled "λίμνη". Words have evolved a lot and their roots can be surprising.

(14-02-2016 03:42 PM)Glossophile Wrote:  With respect to your broader point, wouldn't context solve many of these root ambiguities in much the same way as it does for some whole words (e.g. English "bear")? Plus, did you have to consult a dictionary to confirm your prediction as to the word's meaning? If so, what have the morphological clues really spared you?

Your initial question was about whether the relationship of words would be obvious with such a radical change of spelling in Greek and I used that example to show you that no, the relation would not be obvious. I was not talking about recognizing which homograph the word is in context as much as about knowing what new words mean. In Greek, that skill is quite important.

Yes, I did have to check a dictionary, but that's only because I'm pretty awesome at spelling and etymology and I had to find a word I didn't know for my example and that was pretty hard Tongue
Had it been another word, I wouldn't need to confirm my prediction. I sometimes play a quiz game, a part of which is about finding the right meaning of a word (usually a rare, obscure one). I'm pretty good at that, even if I have never heard the word before.

About the spelling, it did give away the fact that it was a noun and not an adjective.

(14-02-2016 03:42 PM)Glossophile Wrote:  Nevertheless, I am willing to concede that, if root homophony is as prevalent as you suggest, a strictly 1:1 mapping of symbol to sound may not be ideal for a language like Greek.

Definitely, and as I've mentioned before, perhaps my reactions are probably provoked by a hypothetical change in Greek spelling, because I guess that's how my brain processes the whole issue (since English is not my mother tongue).

(14-02-2016 03:42 PM)Glossophile Wrote:  But two important points remain. First, I suspect that English lacks sufficient root homophony to justify its polyvalence. Second, while the spelling of a spoken form cannot always be predicted from sound alone in Greek, the pronunciation of a particular written form is predictable from spelling alone (again, correct me if I'm wrong). English, on the other hand, cannot even claim the latter advantage. So even if the reform allowed for different spellings of the same sound for the sake of homophone differentiation, shouldn't the same spelling always make the same sound, at least?

That is the case with Greek indeed, except for some very minor details in pronunciation that you can only guess if you're a native and know the words (for example in the word "συγχωρώ", the letter γ is pronounced as a ν, again going back to its etymology, which is συν+χωρώ).

And yes, I can at least agree with what you're saying here. But that would be the preferable way only if I did agree with the reform in general Angel

(14-02-2016 03:42 PM)Glossophile Wrote:  So? In English, the feminine object and genitive pronouns look and sound identical (i.e. "her"), but that doesn't seem to cause any confusion. More to your actual point, though, notice that you said language may need to go back to complexity, not spelling. If a new pronoun is emerging or if an old one is making a comeback, a phonemic spelling system can simply encode the sound of that pronoun, and whatever extra clarity it brings to the spoken form will automatically be brought to the written form as well.

You're right about that. I said all that keeping in mind that spelling is a part of language. However I cannot think of an example of a change in spelling that went back to a more complicated version, so I guess my example was not much to the point. I do need to stress though that my example still shows that any kind of simplification may alter the meaning of a word.

(14-02-2016 03:42 PM)Glossophile Wrote:  I never said it wasn't. What I do contend is that there are better ways to reflect heritage. First of all, the heritage reflected in far too many English spellings is paradoxically anything but English (e.g. French, Latin, Greek, etc). Secondly, the use of letters like 'þ' not only doesn't clash with the goal of orthographic regularity, but actually helps accomplish it. It both contributes to consistency in spelling and emblazons English writing with an emblem of its ancient roots. It's a way to have our cake and eat it too! In fact, I think using such emblematic characters is a more profound way of showing linguistic patriotism than comparatively superficial arrangements of more generic symbols.

That's one point we can agree on. Plus those old English letters look pretty Tongue

(14-02-2016 03:42 PM)Glossophile Wrote:  Given that the reform would be a cooperative endeavor that publishers would eventually have a stake in, I would imagine that some agreement or compromise could be reached for the greater good. If not, then the feature that uploads new transcriptions to a digital library is not critical.

Still, you can't expect every single publisher or writer to agree (and to be honest, I believe most would not), so you would inevitably lose texts.

(14-02-2016 03:42 PM)Glossophile Wrote:  I think you're confusing the script with the language it represents. Mandarin itself is actually even more of an analytic (i.e. morphologically simple) language than English.

Wait, what script are we talking about here? Isn't Mandarin simply... Chinese? I mean at least in its written form. I wouldn't call that script "morphologically simple" at all.

(14-02-2016 03:42 PM)Glossophile Wrote:  And that's exactly analogous to how I envision the situation with reformed English spelling. For example, one feature of Australian English is a lowering of the diphthong /eɪ/, as in "cake," to /æɪ/. Now if an Australian were to read the word "keik" as if it were "kæik," it wouldn't necessarily be because he/she thought that 'ei' represented the 'æi' sound (or even that 'e' represented the 'æ' sound), but rather, it would just be the way he/she pronounces it.

I actually used that example to show you that different dialects and pronunciations did not exist before the spelling. The script was not introduced to Cretans after they started pronouncing words the way they do, they always had it. In your case, you would be introducing a foreign script and attempting to explain to everyone how everything is pronounced. That's much harder than you make it seem. Why should anyone apart from linguists easily recognize how the symbols æ or ʃ are pronounced?

(14-02-2016 03:42 PM)Glossophile Wrote:  Children taking 1/2 or even 1/3 of the time it currently takes them to attain foundational literacy isn't advantage enough for you, especially in a culture that could really use a boost to its educational and intellectual capital?

Where do you get those numbers from? I thought the example you showed me was about Chinese. There's absolutely no reason to assume that the rates would be the same for English.

And I'm pretty sure you're talking about the United States here. I wouldn't say you share the same culture with the British, the Canadians or the Australians.

(14-02-2016 03:42 PM)Glossophile Wrote:  As for millions of people "taking one for the team," I believe that this is the primary persuasive challenge of the spelling reform advocate, and I will admit that it is an extremely ambitious goal, but I think it's worth the attempt.

It is a challenge indeed and I guess that is the reason why it's not more popular and why most of us even in here don't think it could ever work.

(14-02-2016 03:42 PM)Glossophile Wrote:  As for the musical playback analogy, despite the fact that my choice of specific formats to compare may have been unfortunate, I think you're all intelligent enough to understand what I was trying to say. Like Matt Finney and I have both pointed out, you can simply restate the analogy with a comparison between two formats of your choice (e.g. vinyl records to cassette tapes), maybe with the newer one indeed having better dynamic range, and my point would be made. Here's the analogy in more general terms.

Claiming that some meaning or sophistication of expression is lost in reformed spelling is like claiming that upgrading from an older, lower-fidelity/resolution/range audio medium to a more modern, higher-fidelity/resolution/range audio somehow makes the lyrics less meaningful or the melody less nuanced.

Chas, feel free to plug in any older format along with the overall highest-quality modern format you can think of into the above formula, and my point should be both clear and valid. While I admit to perhaps choosing exemplary formats poorly, this tangent about what exactly constitutes "melody" is just nitpicky.

I think this is the 23984762958th time someone says this in this thread, so for the 23984762958th time, I will reply to it and hope you and Stevil get it.

We perfectly and completely understood your analogy. We did. Both me and Chas. The discussion that ensued was about whether your specific example was a good one or not and not about trying to understand your analogy. These are two, very different, separate things. Saying that if you choose another format your analogy will be valid is totally and completely irrelevant because the point of the secondary discussion was specifically about mp3 files.

(14-02-2016 03:54 PM)Stevil Wrote:  Are you stating that as a consequence of digitising sound from the master tapes onto a CD medium that it is inevitable that some of the melodies notes will be inaudible? Do you call that a nuance on the melody as a result of the CD medium?
Is this your issue with Glossophile's analogy?

Yes, pretty much. I'm not a native speaker of the language, so perhaps my idea of the word "nuance" as a "slight change" is mistaken. I did not focus on "melody" as a single melody in the song, but rather as any of the song's melodies that may be rendered inaudible in a heavily compressed file.

(14-02-2016 03:54 PM)Stevil Wrote:  As far as I understand it from Chas' issue is that he expects that the "information" has changed and in particular that there has been "information loss". And this is true, there is information loss when converting analogue to digital. This has nothing to do with compressing for Dynamic Range, but lets just assume he is talking about converting from analogue to digital. Some aspects of the sound quality have been affected. The sound has changed slightly. But the notes still remain, their pitch is preserved, their timing is preserved. So, although the music has been impacted, the melody has not.
We still recognise the song, because the melody is the same, we might just notice that it doesn't seem as crisp as on vinyl.
It doesn't matter if you are playing guitar or piano or flute or bells. It still might be possible to play the same melody on all these instruments. As long as the instrument allows you to be true to the pitch and the timing. You get those two things right, then you get the melody right.

If you want to put a nuance on the melody, then you might want to alter the timing or alter some of the notes. A human often puts "feeling" into a song and this can be achieved by shifting the timing ever so subtly. But a computer playing the song will do it with 100% timing. A person might also chose to do a staccato (which alters the duration/timing) rather than a quarter note. They might choose to do a vibrato (which alters the pitch), they might do a trill (which alters the pitch and timing). If they do these things then they are putting nuances onto the melody.
If they do volume swells, this is a change in the sound, but not a change in the melody. If however a note is completely removed (i.e. volume = 0) then this would count as a change in the melody. But this is a very obscure and extreme objection. Why do you assume that a whole note will disappear simply because of digitising analogue music for a CD medium?

I was not talking about a single note. I was talking about a whole melody that could be in the background and be inaudible when compressed (maybe not literally inaudible, but extremely hard to notice). I mean, if I had a dollar for every time I heard a heavily compressed song (my mum tends to compress hers to extremes to save space on her tiny mp3 player, so I would know) and when I heard the original I was like "well, shit, I had never heard that flute back there"...

The experience of this happening is too familiar to me to ignore that specific analogy.

(14-02-2016 03:54 PM)Stevil Wrote:  When looking at a analogy does it make sense to go to such an extreme level to reject the analogy? Can't you simply take the analogy for what message it is trying to convey rather than trying as hard as you can to claim that the analogy is invalid?

And that is what I did. Had I not, the discussion about the reform would stop until I figured out what the analogy actually was. But as I said above, this was not about understanding the analogy, it was a whole new discussion that (perhaps mistakenly, because it was off topic) happened to take place inside this thread.
I insisted on the issue precisely as much as you did.

(14-02-2016 03:54 PM)Stevil Wrote:  From my (simple) perspective, if verbal communication is adequate and if writing can recreate verbal communication then it is adequate (despite the various spelling). If a person mis-spells something then that doesn't necessarily impact my ability to comprehend the message behind what I am reading.

All the more reason to keep things as they are.

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20-02-2016, 03:05 PM (This post was last modified: 20-02-2016 03:09 PM by Glossophile.)
RE: English Spelling Reform
(16-02-2016 04:35 PM)undergroundp Wrote:  Your initial question was about whether the relationship of words would be obvious with such a radical change of spelling in Greek and I used that example to show you that no, the relation would not be obvious. I was not talking about recognizing which homograph the word is in context as much as about knowing what new words mean. In Greek, that skill is quite important.

Wouldn't most new words (at least beyond a certain grade level in school) be encountered in context anyway?

(16-02-2016 04:35 PM)undergroundp Wrote:  I said all that keeping in mind that spelling is a part of language. However I cannot think of an example of a change in spelling that went back to a more complicated version, so I guess my example was not much to the point. I do need to stress though that my example still shows that any kind of simplification may alter the meaning of a word.

And we're back to square one, it seems. As I've said, spelling is no more a part of language than the circuitry inside an iPod is a part of any songs played on it. And no, simplification of spelling cannot by itself alter the meaning of a word. Even if it does render meaning less readily transparent, obscuring something is not the same thing as changing it.

(16-02-2016 04:35 PM)undergroundp Wrote:  Still, you can't expect every single publisher or writer to agree (and to be honest, I believe most would not), so you would inevitably lose texts.

Not necessarily. Even if some publishers refuse to permit their texts to be uploaded to a public digital transcription library, private users would still be able to transcribe them on a need-to-read basis.

(16-02-2016 04:35 PM)undergroundp Wrote:  Wait, what script are we talking about here? Isn't Mandarin simply... Chinese? I mean at least in its written form. I wouldn't call that script "morphologically simple" at all.

I'm not talking about the script. I'm talking about the language.

(16-02-2016 04:35 PM)undergroundp Wrote:  I actually used that example to show you that different dialects and pronunciations did not exist before the spelling. The script was not introduced to Cretans after they started pronouncing words the way they do, they always had it. In your case, you would be introducing a foreign script and attempting to explain to everyone how everything is pronounced. That's much harder than you make it seem. Why should anyone apart from linguists easily recognize how the symbols æ or ʃ are pronounced?

Before the spelling or before the script? You seem to be using the two terms interchangeably here. A script is a repertoire of raw symbols and marks. A spelling is an arrangement of such characters.

Assuming you meant script, yes, the Cretans had it long before their modern dialect developed, but the standardized orthography using that script was likely introduced after those Cretan dialect features emerged. In the same way, the differences between Australian and American or British English would all predate the introduction of a new Roman-script spelling system, even though English has been written in the Roman script for centuries before the colonization of Australia,

As for anyone besides linguists being familiar with IPA glyphs, they wouldn't have to. That's the beauty of diaphonemes! An example that I gave earlier in this thread might help.

Glossophile Wrote:In the traditional accent of the American Southeast, for example, the long monophthong /a:/ consistently corresponds to the standard diphthong /aɪ/, which in my proposed system as well as at least a few others, is usually spelled as 'ai.'

Now, sounds are mostly taught to young children via sample. For instance, the teacher may tell a student, "The special pair 'ai' makes the sound in the middle of the word 'pipe.'" The young speaker of Southeast American English will, upon hearing that, begin learning to map the written diphthong 'ai' onto his native sound /a:/. Provided that he/she does not also conflate it with, for instance, /ɑ:/ or /æ/, which is highly unlikely, that is perfectly fine. From then on, whenever he/she sees 'ai,' he/she will instinctively say /a:/, and whenever he/she hears his/her local compatriots say /a:/, he/she will instinctively write 'ai.'

Imagine, for instance, a schoolchild named Susie in Alabama wishing to write aboute a bike. Her local pronunciation would be /ba:k/. Since she has learned to associate /a:/ with 'ai,' she will readily spell it as "baik." She then e-mails this text to a penpal named Brandon in Ohio. Since he has learned to associate 'ai' with /aɪ/, he will readily decode "baik" into /baɪk/, his own local pronunciation of the same word. The intended meaning is conveyed without any confusion whatsoever, and perhaps more importantly, neither one needed to modify his/her own accent or sound/symbol associations in order to encode or read the message correctly.

It would work the same way with the Australian example. An Australian child learns to associate /æɪ/ with 'ei,' while an American child learns to associate /eɪ/ with that same sequence of letters. When the Australian sender wants to convey the word "cake," he/she will write "keik" according to his/her native pronunciation of /kæɪk/. The American, upon receiving it, will decode "keik" according to his/her own accent as /keɪk/, which he/she will then recognize as a large pastry treat. No specialized linguistic knowledge is required.

(16-02-2016 04:35 PM)undergroundp Wrote:  Where do you get those numbers from? I thought the example you showed me was about Chinese. There's absolutely no reason to assume that the rates would be the same for English.

And I'm pretty sure you're talking about the United States here. I wouldn't say you share the same culture with the British, the Canadians or the Australians.

I base those numbers on the studies that I cited earlier as well as one other that I haven't cited yet but would be happy to share if you so wish. The results seem to indicate that Turkish first-graders are better readers than American first-graders, and it isn't until third-grade that the Americans catch up and show comparable proficiency.

And yes, I was talking mostly about US culture. I love my country, but I'm tired of it being, in too many ways, the laughing stock of the First World.

(16-02-2016 04:35 PM)undergroundp Wrote:  I think this is the 23984762958th time someone says this in this thread, so for the 23984762958th time, I will reply to it and hope you and Stevil get it.

We perfectly and completely understood your analogy. We did. Both me and Chas. The discussion that ensued was about whether your specific example was a good one or not and not about trying to understand your analogy.

If you understood my analogy, then why nitpick the imperfect details? You got the point, so let's move on.

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