English Spelling Reform
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09-02-2016, 08:41 PM
RE: English Spelling Reform
I actually read a book called the Adventure of English. I'm probably one of the few nerds that actually found it interesting :/

But changing it to be more phonetic in nature, for example, would really only help those with minimal education objectives. Those with plans on going into more obscure areas of the language would be hindered by the lack of predictable patterns.

Which again is why I'd rather just switch to something else for common use and leave everything else intact for those with a reason to get into it.

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09-02-2016, 09:16 PM
RE: English Spelling Reform
(09-02-2016 08:13 PM)yakherder Wrote:  If we were to go through such a radical change, I'd rather it be in the form of switching to a more rationally constructed language that is not English like Esperanto. I don't see it happening. People tend to be emotionally connected to things like language. Threatening to change it is viewed as an attack on their culture or way of life. It might be more practical to get everyone on the same page by means of an international standard once robots take over the world and can administrate a global education system with some degree of consistency...and high voltage for reinforcement.

Added words in bold are mine. Angel

A language like English but with a structured spelling scheme has as much chance as adoption of the metric system in the US. Something in the national psyche about gad and EEU https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English_Engineering_units
just go together. Facepalm
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09-02-2016, 09:25 PM
RE: English Spelling Reform
(09-02-2016 09:16 PM)Fireball Wrote:  
(09-02-2016 08:13 PM)yakherder Wrote:  If we were to go through such a radical change, I'd rather it be in the form of switching to a more rationally constructed language that is not English like Esperanto. I don't see it happening. People tend to be emotionally connected to things like language. Threatening to change it is viewed as an attack on their culture or way of life. It might be more practical to get everyone on the same page by means of an international standard once robots take over the world and can administrate a global education system with some degree of consistency...and high voltage for reinforcement.

Added words in bold are mine. Angel

A language like English but with a structured spelling scheme has as much chance as adoption of the metric system in the US. Something in the national psyche about gad and EEU https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English_Engineering_units
just go together. Facepalm

There's a lot of things I think would be neat that won't actually happen. Zombies, for example.

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09-02-2016, 09:29 PM
RE: English Spelling Reform
Of course, as a language nerd, much of my professional marketability beyond basic security lies in the inability of most people to communicate effectively with those they feel they need protection against. So for purely selfish reasons, I'm perfectly content with things the way they are.

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09-02-2016, 10:49 PM (This post was last modified: 09-02-2016 11:00 PM by Glossophile.)
RE: English Spelling Reform
WillHopp, I would consider giving Lady Liberty a Bible and earrings to be more analogous to re-complicating an already simplified spelling. The Statue of Liberty is already an icon of our American culture without any extra baubles. The same cannot be said of vast scores of English spellings, a disproportionate number of which behave more like icons of pretty much any other language besides English itself (French, Greek, Latin, etc).

By your reasoning regarding loan words, we should be pronouncing "nation" more like the French do because it is ultimately a French word. How long would you say a word has to be in English before it becomes fair game for Anglicization, be it phonological or orthographic?

The ever-popular retort of "dumbing down" implies that there's something inherently "smart" about conventional spellings, but I'm afraid that is questionable at best. Current spellings are ultimately "smart" mostly because they are deemed correct by teachers and other authority figures, but that status is frequently not the result of any phonologically or grammatically tractable features within the spellings themselves, but rather, it is simply bestowed from without by cultural fiat. Intrinsically, why is "speak" really any smarter than "speek"?

It's odd that you should mention the "melting pot," because that was the theme of the closing to an academic paper that I wrote on this subject, which I will quote here, since it seems quite relevant. At the very least, this might help you to understand my perspective a little better.

Quote: I doubt anybody who wanted to be taken seriously would claim that our orthography is simple, but few realize the true depth of its notorious incoherence. Fewer still have any more than the vaguest understanding of how it became the creature it is today. Ironically, much of the current nature of the beast stems from the same attribute that many hail as a unique virtue of English: its apparent propensity for importing and integrating vocabulary from an unusually high diversity of sources. While the language’s habit of importation is undeniable, the subsequent integration is far less regular, at least from an orthographic perspective. Where English mainly failed is in systematically naturalizing the written forms of all those borrowings so that they conformed to a cohesive Anglo-Saxon whole. The United States, for example, has traditionally been called a “melting pot.” Nowadays, this metaphor is often deemed outdated and politically incorrect, because it implies glorification of the fact that the various ingredients were stripped of their distinctive qualities in order to blend seamlessly into the precious molten ore being smelted. A popular alternative in contemporary parlance is the “salad bowl,” rejoicing in the maintenance of separate identities which nevertheless cooperate in collectively forming a tasty and nutritious whole. A cultural salad bowl is undoubtedly commendable and almost certain to enrich its host society. A linguistic salad bowl, or at least an orthographic one, may not ultimately function quite as well. Perhaps in the realm of spelling, the melting pot is the better model.

What you have suggested with the example of "rufflecheese" (or as I would spell it, "rafølcíz") is language reform, not spelling reform. I do not in the slightest advocate for the former.

Finally, my advocacy for the Anglicization of loan words would be ethnocentric only if I did not extend the same ideal to other languages. In fact, I actually encourage speakers of other languages to re-spell words borrowed from English according to their own pronunciations and spelling rules. So no, it can't just be chalked up to American chauvinism.

Chas, could you please be more specific as to what claims you find unduly dismissive and/or irrelevant? My analysis of the etymological argument as an after-the-fact justification probably was an untested hypothesis on my part, so I'll concede that to the label of "opinion," but what else did I say on the subject that your found controversial? Is literacy not as fundamental as I've described it to be? Does the average Joe or Jane have more etymological affinities than I've so far supposed?

As for root recognition, why do we necessarily need to know where one came from in order to learn how it's used? For example, in reformed spelling, a student would not need to know that the prefix "haipør-" was originally Greek "ὑπέρ" (Latinized as "hyper-") in order to grasp the fact that it contributes a sense of excess or abundance and therefore deduce at least part of the meaning of a new word like "haipørþérmïø" (traditionally "hyperthermia"). If he/she also knows the root "-þérm-" means heat, as in "þérmøs" (traditionally "thermos"), then the entire word becomes fairly transparent, even without the pupil being aware of the Greek origins of either component.

Yakherder, have you seen the documentary series based on "The Adventure of English" (assuming you mean the one by Melvin Bragg)? It's one of my personal favorites!

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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09-02-2016, 10:59 PM
RE: English Spelling Reform
(09-02-2016 10:49 PM)Glossophile Wrote:  WillHopp, I would consider giving Lady Liberty a Bible and earrings to be more analogous to re-complicating an already simplified spelling. The Statue of Liberty is already an icon of our American culture without any extra baubles. The same cannot be said of vast scores of English spellings, a disproportionate number of which behave more like icons of pretty much any other language besides English itself (French, Greek, Latin, etc).

By your reasoning regarding loan words, we should be pronouncing "nation" more like the French do because it is ultimately a French word. How long would you say a word has to be in English before it becomes fair game for Anglicization, be it phonological or orthographic?

The ever-popular retort of "dumbing down" implies that there's something inherently "smart" about conventional spellings, but I'm afraid that is questionable at best. Current spellings are ultimately "smart" mosty because they are deemed correct by teachers and other authority figures, but crucially, that status is not the result of any linguistically tractable feature(s) of the spellings themselves, but rather, it is simply bestowed from without by cultural fiat. Intrinsically, why is "speak" really any smarter than "speek"?

It's odd that you should mention the "melting pot," because that was the theme of the closing to an academic paper that I wrote on this subject, which I will quote here, since it seems quite relevant.

Quote: I doubt anybody who wanted to be taken seriously would claim that our orthography is simple, but few realize the true depth of its notorious incoherence. Fewer still have any more than the vaguest understanding of how it became the creature it is today. Ironically, much of the current nature of the beast stems from the same attribute that many hail as a unique virtue of English: its apparent propensity for importing and integrating vocabulary from an unusually high diversity of sources. While the language’s habit of importation is undeniable, the subsequent integration is far less regular, at least from an orthographic perspective. Where English mainly failed is in systematically naturalizing the written forms of all those borrowings so that they conformed to a cohesive Anglo-Saxon whole. The United States, for example, has traditionally been called a “melting pot.” Nowadays, this metaphor is often deemed outdated and politically incorrect, because it implies glorification of the fact that the various ingredients were stripped of their distinctive qualities in order to blend seamlessly into the precious molten ore being smelted. A popular alternative in contemporary parlance is the “salad bowl,” rejoicing in the maintenance of separate identities which nevertheless cooperate in collectively forming a tasty and nutritious whole. A cultural salad bowl is undoubtedly commendable and almost certain to enrich its host society. A linguistic salad bowl, or at least an orthographic one, may not ultimately function quite as well. Perhaps in the realm of spelling, the melting pot is the better model.

What you have suggested with the example of "rufflecheese" (or as I would spell it, "rafølcíz") is language reform, not spelling reform. I do not in the slightest advocate for the former.

Finally, my advocacy for the Anglicization of loan words would be ethnocentric only if I did not extend the same ideal to other languages. In fact, I actually encourage speakers of other languages to re-spell words borrowed from English according to their own pronunciations and spelling rules. So no, it can't just be chalked up to American chauvinism.

Chas, could you please be more specific as to what claims you find unduly dismissive and/or irrelevant? My analysis of the etymological argument as an after-the-fact justification probably was an untested hypothesis on my part, so I'll concede that to the label of "opinion," but what else did I say on the subject that your found controversial? Is literacy not as fundamental as I've described it to be? Does the average Joe or Jane have more etymological affinities than I've so far supposed?

As for root recognition, why do we necessarily need to know where one came from in order to learn how it's used? For example, in reformed spelling, a student would not need to know that the prefix "haipør-" was originally Greek "ὑπέρ" (Latinized as "hyper-") in order to grasp the fact that it contributes a sense of excess or abundance and therefore deduce at least part of the meaning of a new word like "haipørþérmïø" (traditionally "hyperthermia"). If he/she also knows the root "-þérm-" means heat, as in "þérmøs" (traditionally "thermos"), then the entire word becomes fairly transparent, even without the pupil being aware of the Greek origins of either component.

Yakherder, have you seen the documentary series based on "The Adventure of English" (assuming you mean the one by Melvin Bragg)? It's one of my personal favorites!

You missed the point of rufflecheese, and your spelling was comical if you think that would be easier for children to spell. As this is a non-starter for me, I'll tap out of this.

But I look forward to your thoughts on future topics of actual worth.

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09-02-2016, 11:04 PM
RE: English Spelling Reform
(09-02-2016 10:49 PM)Glossophile Wrote:  Yakherder, have you seen the documentary series based on "The Adventure of English" (assuming you mean the one by Melvin Bragg)? It's one of my personal favorites!

That is the book I was referring to, but no I have not seen the documentary series. I'll have to check it out when I get a chance.

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09-02-2016, 11:23 PM
RE: English Spelling Reform
(09-02-2016 10:59 PM)WillHopp Wrote:  You missed the point of rufflecheese, and your spelling was comical if you think that would be easier for children to spell. As this is a non-starter for me, I'll tap out of this.

But I look forward to your thoughts on future topics of actual worth.

Just in case you linger long enough to read this, I will only add this: I find it curious that you are so willing to declare my spelling unhelpful for children without first learning the rules by which that spelling was derived. If you wish, I can share a link to a brief tutorial on how my proposed orthography works, and then, if you still think it wouldn't be much easier for children, you will at least be in a better position to defend that judgment.

In any case, I share your hope that we may engage each other again on other topics.

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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09-02-2016, 11:43 PM
RE: English Spelling Reform
  • How will you get people to adopt your new spelling?
  • Standardised spelling is a good thing. It enables people to communicate, even if both have extremely thick accents. So now you say you'll standardise coup d'etat as kudeita, but what rule will you use to assign sounds to letters? Because an Irishman or an Australian is gonna have a different accent.
  • English as it stands has a standard spelling system, which is complex.
  • But e.g. keyboards around the world support standard alphabet. There is a huge amount of existing stuff - signage, government forms, computer character codes - all of which are standardised on the current system, all of which it would be prohibitively expensive to change.
  • There is a huge body of existing printed material which would be prohibitive to translate into the new spelling.
  • That means that everyone will have to learn *two* systems.
  • It's been tried before, and failed. Many people have put together alphabet systems.

I just see the idea as unimportant. We have a working system. Don't fix it.

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(06-02-2014 03:47 PM)Momsurroundedbyboys Wrote:  And I'm giving myself a conclusion again from all the facepalming.
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10-02-2016, 12:17 AM
RE: English Spelling Reform
King Sejong managed a revamp of Korea's written language, as did Mao when he forced the transition from traditional to simplified Chinese. In either case, I think the subsequent increase in literacy rates had more to do with improved education than because of the language modifications.

That said, the Korean alphabet is quite easy to learn, and one of the more consistent alphabets in the world. Chinese, on the other hand, I don't feel was made easier. Some strokes were eliminated from many characters, but so was meaning. Radicals that provided clues as to the meaning of words were dropped, creating a theoretically simpler character that was void of intrinsic clues as to its meaning and origin. I'm pretty sure Hong Kong and Taiwan (which still use traditional) have higher literacy rates than the mainland.

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