English Spelling Reform
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11-02-2016, 05:14 PM
RE: English Spelling Reform
(08-02-2016 09:54 PM)Glossophile Wrote:  How would information be lost if all texts are either already transcribed or easily transcribable by software?

What other form of disruption would there be that would last for generations?

The amount of text in existence is enormous, I'm sure (to the point that "enormous" doesn't really do it justice), which is why I've proposed the development of on-demand transcription software, so that only the more important texts have to be transcribed en masse. The really obscure stuff can be transcribed as needed on a personal basis.

The transcription would be done mostly by computers, which means that very little training will be necessary. What I imagine is that human transcribers would only get involved when the computer encounters a word it doesn't quite know what to do with and alerts them that it needs some help, which I think would be a proportionally rare occurrence.

Chinese has already been alphabetized in the form of Pinyin, unless by "alphabetized" you meant rendered into an alphabet for use as an official standard orthography rather than a teaching aid for the traditional characters.
But would the old timers accept the Bible rewritten in New English? "If saying Thee and Thou was good enuff for Jesus they are good enuff for me!"
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11-02-2016, 05:25 PM
RE: English Spelling Reform
(08-02-2016 11:08 PM)WillHopp Wrote:  Spelling bees would suffer. Children learn to spell the most complicated words through origins and historical usage, etc. The history of a language is beautiful.

So tell me, under your system, would you change foreign words that perfectly explain what they are describing, such as lasagna (lazanya) or dejavu (dayzavoo)? I have to admit it pisses me off when I read a container in the cheese aisle that says "Parmasan" when it's parmigiano. There seems to be this underlying pompous attitude when foreign words that are easily pronounced or spelled get changed to suit English speakers. Why Spain and not Espana? Why Italy and not Italia? It's not as if we are using different letters. There is no fucking Y in the Italian language yet whoever came up with the spelling forced a Y in there. Are we not capable of pronouncing or spelling Italia? Really?

Sorry, but this whole topic is a non-starter for me and the simplifying of words is just irritating. If there is a need to do this then I see that as a blight on our overall educational system, not a problem that needs a patch, but a cure.

I have often railed against the way writers of Spanish in modern day America abuse our language. For example Nuevo York is somehow twisted out of New York. Do we change Rio De Janeiro into River of January when we write their proper names in English? Or if Hurricane Juanita hit our coast wed call it Hurricane Juanita instead of Anglicizing it, but Hurricane Andrew was always referred to as Hurican Andrez in even the Spanish version of the Miami Herald.
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11-02-2016, 06:40 PM
RE: English Spelling Reform
(11-02-2016 11:21 AM)GirlyMan Wrote:  
(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?

They have funky little typewriters that record phonetic spelling. It is then recast into the words used during the spoken testimony later.
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11-02-2016, 09:40 PM (This post was last modified: 12-02-2016 11:03 AM by Glossophile.)
RE: English Spelling Reform
Undergroundp, much of what you're saying could easily be turned into an argument for reform, just a different kind of reform than what I'm advocating. For example, let's take the words "fair," "bear," "bat," and "right." Each of these words has at least two different meanings. If we take your reasoning to its logical conclusion, we would be quite justified in proposing that we have a different spelling for each meaning. For instance...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

If your ultimate goal in making this argument is to support the orthographic status quo in its entirety, as I suspect it is, then your challenge seems even greater. Not only must your criteria be objective and synchronically linguistic, but the lines that they draw must happen to precisely match current rules.

Unless you can do this, then the Homophone Argument is just special pleading. Why is a word like "fair" just fine, while using "nait" for both of the following meanings is apparently going too far?

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

(11-02-2016 03:58 PM)undergroundp Wrote:  Spelling is directly connected with how we use and perceive language. By simplifying the spelling you inevitably simplify the language. Meaning is lost. [...]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.

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

(11-02-2016 03:58 PM)undergroundp Wrote:  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.

Again, I don't understand this sentiment. I could write an explanation of Einstein's special or general theory of relativity in reformed spelling, and it would neither simplify the thoughts expressed nor detract in the slightest from their genius. You seem to be confusing the medium with the message again. Have I diminished the eloquence or importance of the Declaration of Independence by transcribing it into a phonemic spelling? I don't see how I could.

(11-02-2016 03:58 PM)undergroundp Wrote:  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".

It's a rather poor reflection at the moment, and I think my mother tongue deserves a better mirror.

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11-02-2016, 09:50 PM
RE: English Spelling Reform
(11-02-2016 09:40 PM)Glossophile Wrote:  It's a rather poor reflection at the moment, and I think my mother tongue deserves a better mirror.

Your mother tongue deserve respect and for you to stop annoying her. Drinking Beverage

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11-02-2016, 11:19 PM
RE: English Spelling Reform
Glossophile, if you can't get traction with us what makes you think that a school board is gonna listen to you? You need to sell your stuff better.

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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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11-02-2016, 11:34 PM
RE: English Spelling Reform
(08-02-2016 04:55 PM)Glossophile Wrote:  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.
Sounds very practical and smells like progress. I'm all for it.

Conservative traditionalists will hate it though.
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12-02-2016, 12:54 AM
RE: English Spelling Reform
Language changes all the time anyway. Dost thou not know this? Smile

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12-02-2016, 02:08 AM
RE: English Spelling Reform
(12-02-2016 12:54 AM)Banjo Wrote:  Language changes all the time anyway. Dost thou not know this? Smile
Word.
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12-02-2016, 05:34 AM
RE: English Spelling Reform
(12-02-2016 12:54 AM)Banjo Wrote:  Language changes all the time anyway. Dost thou not know this? Smile

Indeed it does. The beauty of English and its success as a language is that it is in many ways totally anarchic and has evolved despite periodic attempts to "clean it up" or "reform" it.

There are many varieties of English and many different contexts for the use of words or indeed meanings.

"Fanny" in UK English means something very different to the word's use in US English.

There are always new words being added to vocabularies and the meaning of words evolving. 100 years ago the word "gay" meant something very different to that commonly used today.

So any attempt to "reform" is doomed.

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