English Spelling Reform
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11-02-2016, 11:21 AM
RE: English Spelling Reform
(11-02-2016 02:41 AM)Glossophile Wrote:  [*]Not necessarily. The key is to make transcription easy and quick, so that people can just use whatever system they prefer, transcribing things when necessary.

Don't court stenographers already have a grammar to make transcription quick and easy?

#sigh
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11-02-2016, 11:34 AM
RE: English Spelling Reform
You know what they say; no issue is too obscure to have its own dedicated patrons.

This sort of all-consuming proscriptive reform is only possible in illiterate or totalitarian societies. I wouldn't hold my breath.

A more strict phonetic/orthographic correspondence is theoretically better, but comprehensive education already renders the difference moot in developed societies.

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11-02-2016, 03:58 PM
RE: English Spelling Reform
(11-02-2016 11:18 AM)Glossophile Wrote:  I agree. It's not the language I want to simplify. It's the spelling. Confusing the two is like using the word "music" to refer to the electronics inside an iPod.

Spelling is directly connected with how we use and perceive language. By simplifying the spelling you inevitably simplify the language. Meaning is lost.

For example, we have 5 ways to write the sound "ee" in Greek. The words λύπη, λείπει and λίπη, as different as they may look, are all pronounced pretty much like "leepee". Some people ask for all the ee's to be written in only one way so that kids don't have a hard time trying to figure out which one to use. If we did that, we wouldn't be able to tell those words apart, nor understand the meaning of their derivatives.

(11-02-2016 11:18 AM)Glossophile Wrote:  Depending on how it's handled, this may actually be a good thing. It means the spelling is keeping pace with natural changes in the language that it seeks to represent. If you update things regularly enough, each individual update will probably only affect a relative few words, thus making it far less disruptive than what would be needed if you procrastinated for a few centuries (as English has done).

See above. Change is not always good.

(11-02-2016 11:18 AM)Glossophile Wrote:  I think some earlier remarks of mine on this issue bear repeating.

Glossophile Wrote: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.

That's quite true for English words that come from Greek, Latin or French. Sure, who cares where it comes from? However that is not the point. You are actually supporting my argument here. The complexity of the word actually helps the student tell what it means. Yet, how would a simplified spelling be useful in the case of (the many) homophones in English?

Also, no, I'm not saying that it's important to know if the root is Greek or Latin or whatever. In order for the student to know what "hyper" means, he needs to know its spelling. How would he know if it's "hyper" or "high per" if you simplify their spelling? Isn't meaning lost?

(11-02-2016 11:18 AM)Glossophile Wrote:  Yes, and the classical Greeks also more-or-less spoke as they wrote and wrote as they spoke. Even without the pitch accent and breathing marks that came later, ancient Greek orthography was still more streamlined than that of modern English.

Sure, it was. But it was also complicated. They did not simplify their spelling because they would lose meaning and meaning is important if you want to talk about democracy and philosophy.

(11-02-2016 11:18 AM)Glossophile Wrote:  Also, again I must ask, why should literacy, a fundamental tool meant for the masses, be catered so disproportionately to specialists such as yourself? It's great that current spelling allowed older pronunciations make sense to you (even though I think that's also symptomatic of the problem), but etymology/philology is relatively few people's proverbial cup of tea. So why should such esoteric interests (which I actually share) be foisted upon the general population?

As I said, if you simplify the spelling, you simplify the language and if you simplify the language, you simplify meaning and consequently thinking. You basically tell people it's ok to be dumb. It's definitely not an extremely hard thing to learn. You won't make anyone smarter by simplifying spelling. You can be successful, communicate, even be an accomplished writer and suck at spelling.
It doesn't have to do with etymology and philology, it has to do with being educated and having a wealth of words to express a variety of thoughts.

There have been examples in Greek of words being imported or recycled from Ancient Greek and, because they sounded similar to other contemporary words, they ended up with the same spelling, thus confusing people about their meaning, me included.

(11-02-2016 11:18 AM)Glossophile Wrote:  Congratulations on your degree in English! I have one in linguistics.

Thanks! My degree is in English language and philology, but I actually majored in English linguistics Smile
(not that I didn't regret not choosing literature later Laugh out load )

(11-02-2016 11:18 AM)Glossophile Wrote:  I don't necessarily claim that spelling reform will make everyone 100% competent, but I think it's safe to say we can definitely come significantly closer to that ideal than we currently are.

See above, I do not think simpler spelling makes people more competent. I had some courses in learning disabilities and although studies showed that English-speaking students take more time to spell properly, the competence they achieve is not lower than students of other languages (I've been trying to find the relevant studies but Google isn't being cooperative).

(11-02-2016 11:18 AM)Glossophile Wrote:  I'm sorry, but this argument has always sounded snobbish and elitist to me. There are plenty of other fundamental academic hurdles to separate the men from the boys and the women from the girls, and most of those challenges are actually necessary for their respective endeavors to work properly. Algebra, for example, is daunting for many students, but it cannot be simplified, because if it were any simpler, it wouldn't be able to fully serve its intended purpose. This cannot be said of English spelling, which is far more complex than it needs to be in order to function as an efficient means of written communication.

But spelling is not just an efficient means of written communication. It reflects language, and our thoughts depend on our language. "Efficient" does not mean "ideal".

(11-02-2016 11:18 AM)Glossophile Wrote:  Actually, that's even less realistic, because pronunciation is actually part of the language itself, and the nature of human language does not lend itself well at all to deliberate and consciously directed change. It is quite rare for a language to undergo any real and lasting changes via anything besides collective and unconscious evolution.

Spelling, on the other hand, being a kind of technology layered atop language to make it more portable and durable, is a much more feasible target for deliberate and systematic design and re-design.

I was mostly joking there. However I do think it's not realistic to expect to change spelling just like that. Most changes in spelling that have actually occurred were mostly based on its evolution through the mistakes and common usage by people. There's not much that's systematic about it. It's rather chaotic if you ask me.

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11-02-2016, 04:02 PM
RE: English Spelling Reform
Is... is anyone going to point out while we're at it that coup d'etat is two words?

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11-02-2016, 04:05 PM
RE: English Spelling Reform
(11-02-2016 04:02 PM)cjlr Wrote:  Is... is anyone going to point out while we're at it that coup d'etat is two words?

Well, its meaning isn't Angel

And it's actually three.

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11-02-2016, 04:35 PM
RE: English Spelling Reform
(11-02-2016 04:05 PM)undergroundp Wrote:  
(11-02-2016 04:02 PM)cjlr Wrote:  Is... is anyone going to point out while we're at it that coup d'etat is two words?

Well, its meaning isn't Angel

And it's actually three.

Yes, 3. It looks goofy and is pronounced goofy if it is spelled out as coup de etat, thus the first e and the space are elided to make it d'etat.
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11-02-2016, 04:44 PM
RE: English Spelling Reform
(11-02-2016 04:35 PM)Fireball Wrote:  
(11-02-2016 04:05 PM)undergroundp Wrote:  Well, its meaning isn't Angel

And it's actually three.

Yes, 3. It looks goofy and is pronounced goofy if it is spelled out as coup de etat, thus the first e and the space are elided to make it d'etat.

Je parle francais, guys. I do know where the expression comes from.

Whether or not contractions count as multiple words is something I'm not aware has a definitive answer.
(but I'd note that nobody would say quelqu'un is two words...)

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11-02-2016, 04:55 PM
RE: English Spelling Reform
(08-02-2016 04:55 PM)Glossophile Wrote:  In my self-introduction, I mentioned that I am an advocate of radical English spelling reform, and that seems like precisely the sort of fringe movement that could provoke some interesting conversation among members of a forum like this one.

My hope is that some of the same rationalist perspectives used in debates on (a)theism may be brought to bear on the notion of spelling reform as a worthwhile if not ultimately necessary move. I've heard several common arguments so often that I've come to refer to them by particular names. But these are mostly deployed by average Joes and Janes who at least don't explicitly identify as skeptics, rationalists, etc. I would be very interested in hearing the perspectives of those who are more active in the skeptical/rationalist community on this rather obscure topic.

My aim is threefold: to educate interested parties in the issues addressed by spelling reformers, to exercise my explaining/debating chops, and to uncover any flaws in my own reasoning, so please ask questions and/or give your opinions, and hopefully we can all learn something in the course of our discussion/debate.

To start, my contention is that English orthography is far more complex than its function demands and that significant simplification would enable children and non-native English speakers to become functionally literate much faster than they currently do. There are at least a few studies which seem to converge on the suggestion that it takes English-speaking children about three times longer to acquire foundational literacy than it does speakers of many other alphabetic languages. I think this issue is now more relevant than ever due to English's unprecedented role as a global lingua franca. There are now two or three non-native speakers of English for every native, and every one of them has to wrestle with the convolutions of standard English spelling.

An Englsih professor at the U of Minn in 1970 had us try out a few new spellings. I have written arrove and enuff every since. His list was close to 20 words, and he assured us if we all used them and pressed out friends to do so that within our life times they would take root and be popular. Aint happened not even to my 2 favorites.
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11-02-2016, 04:59 PM
RE: English Spelling Reform
(08-02-2016 06:34 PM)Chas Wrote:  
(08-02-2016 06:32 PM)ClydeLee Wrote:  English has some trouble in that way but I'm not sure a reform of this type could ever effectively be pushed through nor probably should it.

Mainly, when "movements" in language like this are directed or sought out to be done via guidelines and rules, that generally is a poor result. Languages shift and evolve over time.

Plus how would it result in effectiveness. Would you merely change some spelling rules for teaching kids. But when you have a generational divide? Would what you are teaching children confuse more of their parents and older generations to the point that they have a more complicated manner of trying to read/write the same things? In this day and age it's also vastly different. Adults across the English language now read and write things into adulthood. I heard it said recently that really the data showed before the internet/home computers, something like only 10% of adults after highschool/college ever wrote more than a couple paragraphs the rest of their lives. (this being in the late 20th century era, not so sure about say pre wwii) Maybe they would occasionally write a letter or thank you note style things & write out legal forms, but not anything beyond that.

My point is nowadays people across generations and age groups write & read things online. If you changed how you taught things to kids, how does that reverberate. That's why I wonder if this could ever take off successfully.

I suspect its success could almost rival the success of Esperanto. Drinking Beverage

Two more comments from me. Spanish had a rofrmation just a couple of centuries ago. Their spelling is about 98 per cent by rules that do not deviate, and secondly many kids text in an almost new language.
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11-02-2016, 05:04 PM
RE: English Spelling Reform
On a sidenote, I learned Chinese much, much faster than I learned French. So in my case, at least, there was more to it than the theoretical difficulty of the writing system. To start with, I simply found it more interesting.

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