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Re: CONLANG Digest - 10 May 2000 (still mainly English)

From:Nik Taylor <fortytwo@...>
Date:Friday, May 12, 2000, 6:07
Muke Tever wrote:
> And here's the perversity point of the argument: If the _current_ orthography > is SO BAD that native readers of a reformed version _can't_ figure it out, > then the current orthography NEEDS to be changed.
Well, I think the orthography is fine. Yes, it's rather complex, yes, there are many exceptions, but it works. Every other change would require widespread re-education, and be barely an improvement for most people, because you'd first have to choose a dialect to base the new spelling on. Speakers of other dialects would find it maybe a slight improvement, but not worth the difficulty of changing. Speakers of the dialect on which the new spelling was based would have only relatively minor difficulty changing, altho it would take some time for them to gain speed in the new spelling, but other dialects' speakers would require a lenghty re-education period! And even if our orthography was COMPLETELY regular, a large-scale change would leave native readers of the new orthography lost with the old.
> You have lots of faith in education!
No, just experience. Most people can't even read something from, e.g., 1500 without modernized spelling. And the spelling changes are relatively minor from then.
> Every native speaker of Latin is dead, that doesn't stop people from reading > Latin, teaching Latin, and coining new words from it.
Yes, but there aren't many who can read it.
> English, however, is _not_ a dead language--it has _millions_ of native > speakers--and it would take much more than a _spelling reform_ to cause the > end of all its literature in _one generation_!
Of course not, but the "translation" would be expensive. Certainly, things like Shakespeare would be translated, but what about relatively obscure writers?
> Bingo! Now, why wouldn't they learn the Old Spelling, when all the literature > of the past couple hundred years is written in it?
Um, because it's hard? If there were great literature written in, say, a Greek-alphabet version of English, that wouldn't mean I'd want to learn that Greek-alphabet version, no matter how great the literature was! But that doesn't mean that I wouldn't be being deprived by the inability to read it.
> Now, consider basic necessity. In most cases, especially with the > proliferations of modern times (and the amount of static texts in dynamic > media like the Internet), familiarity with both spelling systems would be > important.
And why force people to learn TWO different spelling systems? Now you're making an argument for NOT reforming the spelling. Learning two spelling systems is a heck of alot harder than learning one!
> Sorry, I never did get the knack for vowel transcriptions. Is /aj/ the > "long-a" vowel in "weight" or the "long-i" vowel in "height"?
/aj/ is the pronoun "I", the "long i". "Igh" BY ITSELF, when not preceded by another vowel, is ALWAYS /aj/, as far as I can tell. If you know a counterexample, give it.
> I don't know what /A/ is supposed to sound like. When I say the "o" as in > "bot", I mean the vowel in bOt, dOt, cOnlang, alOng, hOt, cOdfish, hOllow, > fAther, and swAllow.
/A/ is the sound that doctors traditionally make you say, e.g., "say ahhhh" :-) By your examples, sounds like you use /A/ too.
> I think it would be /I"land/ if I tried to read 'iland' without recognizing > it.
A vowel followed by a consonant followed by another vowel is usually long (or schwa), as in "mile", "file", "silent", "filing", "pilot", etc., thus, I'd asume it was long.
> "augh" isn't very unambiguous either, being either /&f/ as in laughter, /a/ as > in daughter... I know someone whose name is 'Baughman' and that's /af/.
Well, it's fairly unambigous, if you take into account morphemic structure. If -augh occurs at the end of a morpheme, it's /&f/, otherwise /A/. Laughter is based on laugh, which has a morpheme-final -augh, while "daughter" isn't. Baughman I'd interpret as being baugh-man, thus /&f/, but names frequently disobey orthographic rules, even in languages with phonemic spelling systems (e.g., the large number of Spanish names beginning with Y-consonant). -- "If the stars should appear one night in a thousand years, how would men believe and adore, and preserve for many generations the remembrance of the city of God!" - Ralph Waldo Emerson ICQ: 18656696 AIM Screen-Name: NikTailor