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Re: more English orthography

From:Muke Tever <alrivera@...>
Date:Saturday, May 13, 2000, 8:28
> From: Nik Taylor <fortytwo@...> > Subject: Re: CONLANG Digest - 10 May 2000 (still mainly English) > > Muke Tever wrote: > > And here's the perversity point of the argument: If the _current_
> > is SO BAD that native readers of a reformed version _can't_ figure it
> > 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.
But in most cases you _wouldn't_ have to, as most dialects (IME...) have the same phonemic distinctions within themselves as each other, even if the phonetic realizations differ. And most of the cases I can think of offhand regard vowels or R.
> 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!
I still don't see how this follows. OK. My dialect, _phonemically_, has the vowels of: bot, bait, bat, bet, beet, bit, bite, but, boat, book, boy, bout, boot, beaut, -ble, Bert It also has an 'o' that I think of as different though it only appears before r or in foreign words: bore. (Phonemically doesn't conflict with "boat" AFAICT) I also have the consonants of: bee, chew, do, though, fee, go, hi, jaw, key, low, me, no, -ing, pie, ray, sea, she, tea, thick, vow, way, you, zee, and "zh". How many on this list, (with American accents/dialects) does this _not_ map to their phoneme inventory? (I make _no_ prescription to the phonetic values of these sounds.) Are there too many sounds? Not enough? Which ones are missing/extra?
> And even if our orthography was COMPLETELY regular, a large-scale change > would leave native readers of the new orthography lost with the old.
Not if they grew up with it, as they likely would have to.
> > 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.
"Most" people don't _want_ to read things from 1500! And I'm entirely sure that _spelling_ is not the only difference between 1500- and 2000-English.
> > Every native speaker of Latin is dead, that doesn't stop people from
> > Latin, teaching Latin, and coining new words from it. > > Yes, but there aren't many who can read it.
It doesn't take many...
> > 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
> > 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?
Expensive? Hah, I'll do it for free, just give me food and a place to sleep.
> > Bingo! Now, why wouldn't they learn the Old Spelling, when all the
> > 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.
True, but if it were me, I'd be searching the Internet for an English-alphabet version of it.
> > Now, consider basic necessity. In most cases, especially with the > > proliferations of modern times (and the amount of static texts in
> > media like the Internet), familiarity with both spelling systems would
> > important. > > And why force people to learn TWO different spelling systems? Now > you're making an argument for NOT reforming the spelling.
That's rubbish. ANY spelling reform will require people to know two different spelling systems, even if it's only the people contemporaneous with the change.
> Learning two spelling systems is a heck of alot harder than learning one!
Not if the new spelling system is based on the _regularities_ of the old!
> > 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.
"igh" as /Igh/ (/I/ is English "short i", isn't it?) bighorn (sheep), bighearted, bighead "igh" as /Ig/: Bordighera (place name) "igh" as /i/ (English "long e") Brighid (person) ( is only giving me search results through 'floodlight', because there's too words with -igh- for it to show on one page ;p)
> > I think it would be /I"land/ if I tried to read 'iland' without
> > 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.
But not in this context, not long _I_... it'd be long _E_ if anything, as in "Somaliland". Other words with -iland- in them have short I: "philanderer" and its derivatives, or "Swaziland". "Thailand" has long I, but only because of the A in front of it. With just -ila-, you have short i words like _annihilate_, _assimilate_ (or any derivative with "similar"), _Attila_, _cartilage_, _cilantro_, _compilation_, _dilapidated_, _enchilada_... You get long I for prefixes that already have long I: bilabial, antilabor.
> > "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.
Actually the regular rule I'm aware of is that 'augh' has silent 'gh' after front vowels and f 'gh' after back ones.
> 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).
Yes, names are all evil.
> From: Barry Garcia <Barry_Garcia@...> > Subject: Re: CONLANG Digest - 10 May 2000 (still mainly English) > > CONLANG@LISTSERV.BROWN.EDU writes: > >(I STILL have no idea how 'slough' should be pronounced.) > > One way is said like "slew" (dictionary writes the pronunciation as > "slou"), and it's a swampy area, like the nearby Elk Horn Slough > > another, as my dictionary pronounces is "sluf" which is what snakes do > when they shed their skins.
Instinctually I want to use the 'sluf' form for both meanings though, 'slew' always rubs me wrong for some reason ;p
> From: John Cowan <jcowan@...> > Subject: USAGE: English spelling reform` > > If you learn to read this (in American Reg.Ing.): > > Foarscore and seven years ago our faathers braught forth > on this continent a new nation, conceeved in liberty, and > dedicated to the propozition that aul men ar created equol.
> How hard is it going to be for you to read the British Reg.Ing. version, > which I will not spell out in detail but which uses "advaanced", "taask", > and "laast"? > > And indeed, how hard will it be to read the original? Not very, I submit.
> From: John Cowan <jcowan@...> > Subject: Re: CONLANG Digest - 10 May 2000 (still mainly English) > > Muke Tever wrote: > > > And here's the perversity point of the argument: If the _current_
> > is SO BAD that native readers of a reformed version _can't_ figure it
> > then the current orthography NEEDS to be changed. > > Just so. And then you have to decide what goals you have in mind when > changing it. Regularized Inglish has the goal of making *reading* easy; > once you have learned the sounds of the letters and their standard > combinations in your dialect, you can convert any written word to > the corresponding spoken word with fair reliability. > > It is not a goal to make *spelling* equally automatic: you simply have > to know that "hate" is spelled "hate" and not "hait" or "haight".
Mmm, like Spanish. Aside: When I was little, I always hated eating beans (=habichuelas)... and my parents told me one day I wouldn't have to have them if I could spell it... of course I was wrong from the first letter ;p
> > But it isn't the current spelling, is it? ;) > > I can easily imagine island's 's' being added in as a clue to the > > pronunciation, by analogy with words like 'isle'. > > Reg.Ing. simply drops these silent "s" letters, as in aile, apropo, > chassi, debri, demene, ile, ilet, iland, lile, vicount.
The 's' in 'viscount' is silent? Oops! *Muke runs to his dictionary* And it's a _long I_ too! Oh deario me! I had it as 'vihs-count', or 'vee-comt' if I was feeling French. Oh well, too late. But "demesne" _does_ have long _a_ though, at least around here.
> > >Except when they undergo unconditioned phonemic splits. > > > > What's 'unconditioned' mean here? > > "Not determined by the surrounding sounds".
Does that include stress?
> From: "Daniel A. Wier" <dawier@...> > Subject: Re: Regarding "Number Nine"... > > Actually, I miscalculated the whole thing. In fact, I changed my mind on > "Nine". Now it's seven, with the following alphabet: a i k n p t u. (I > might make it eight if I include h.) > > So back to square one.
Oval seven! <-- REALLY obscure reference. Now it beats my brownie language that I invented the last time minimal phonologies came up on this list. (And which I haven't touched since, except for a lot of work on the alphabet). It had eight, p e t a k u sh i.
> From: Carlos Thompson <chlewey@...> > Subject: Artlang-driven English spelling reform > > Inspired on the English spelling reform, I was thingking in > a pseudo spelling reform, which could drive English into a > more phonetic language but it's not aimed to go that way. > > First, it will take diagraphs and changed for extended or > accented Latin letters, like changing <th> /T/ with <þ> > (thorn).
Hehe. I've tried that too. Rather, sort of. I did make an alphabet like, though. The main principles of it were that 1) It would have new letters for new sounds, not old letters with diacritics 2) The new letters would at least marginally recognizable as to function. 3) One phoneme, one letter. The main problems, of course, are that 1) Using new letter shapes kills its chances of appearing over the Internet (by luck, all the characters are in Unicode, actually, but it's a technical hassle). 2) No provision was made for other recognizability. As for sticking to 1) it is mostly there, except for syllabic l, which is barred like Polish ew (?), and 'eng', which is n with ogonek. Also the capitals of the "long vowels" are the same as the short ones but with macrons. The "new" letters: ash; edh; a kind of small curved capital E, or a reversed Cyrillic hard 'e'; that up arrow I mentioned yesterday; "IPA lambda"; n-ogonek; barred o (which I think is superfluous...); "latin letter ou", looks like an eight open at the top; Cyrillic l; Cyrillic "lje" apparently; "latin esh"; thorn; IPA "latin small letter upsilon"; ezh, gamma, and l-bar. They stand for: a in bat, dh, long e, long i, schwa/'uh', ng, long o, oo as in book, oi as in boy, ow as in bough, sh, th, long u, zh, syllabic r, and syllabic l respectively. It's all horribly ugly of course, but I like it ;p (Also, x means ch--it's an obsession of mine. G is always hard, and your choice of k or hard c. An alternate method had c being ch, x being ks, and hard c always being k) I also plan to make one that uses all kinds of regular diacritics instead of new characters. (And is more backwards compatible: retaining unambiguous disambiguations, like the w in wright or doubled consonants like -tt- and -ck-.) When I'm done, whichever I like best will go to my Future English conlang (hey, I really need one). Is there a standard function of most diacritics in European languages, like tilde for nasal vowels, acute accent for stress, etc? Or do individual languages make them up as they go along?
> From: "Daniel A. Wier" <dawier@...> > Subject: "Frogman" -- an IE language! > > While Orcish is an isolate language based on nothing, I decided to make > Frogman an Indo-European offspring. But a lot has changed in the
> as it has become a tonal language. Here I'm working out the
> phonological changes.
> The other consonants are h, which result in low tone (the three laryngeals > h1 h2 h3 are preserved; I'm not sure how each one is to be realized), s > (results in high tone), r, l, v (= w or v), and j (last four result in low > tone).
I don't understand H1 H2 H3 either. One website gives them as /h/, /x/, and /xw/, respectively. But MHO they might be "farther back" than that. I don't understand either H by itself on Gwinn's site.
> Gramatically, the language is a bit simpler; it behaves much more like an > agglutinative language than an inflected one. There are as many as ten > cases (at least seven or eight anyway) but only one declension (like > Finnish); verb grammar might be a little tricky, but who knows...
So where'd the extra cases come from, and where's the other declensions gone? :)
> From: Nik Taylor <fortytwo@...> > Subject: Re: USAGE: English spelling reform` > > John Cowan wrote: > > And indeed, how hard will it be to read the original? Not very, I
> > The more you talk about Regularized Inglish, the more that seems to be > the only reasonable proposal I've seen. Of course, most proposals want > as close to a one-to-one correspondence, which *would* make Old and New > spelling mutually unintelligible. That's the kind of thing I was > talking about.
I tried not to imply that! ;\
> From: Nik Taylor <fortytwo@...> > Subject: Re: Artlang-driven English spelling reform > > At least, that's one draft for their orthography. The phonology's > fairly set, but the orthography keeps changing ...
Make them stubbornly continue to write in 20th-century English spellings.
(joke!! If Terra Novan's the one I think it is, that'd be terrybli impractical.) I know I've been terribly off-topic a lot lately--force of bad habit--but I promise to work on absolutely nothing but my new Mukaic language next week! It's based on IE, of course, 'cause I'm not up to creating a corpus of original roots yet. [I'll have to for daimyo though...] As examples, the numbers (so far) are: obo, ûbo, suri, cubore, pecu, sê, sefsem, ozô, noîn, êgem. Also the family relationships râte, sêzô, mâte, pite. Circumflected vowels here are 'glottalized'. There's no grammar yet (nor indeed that many words), I've just been working on the sound changes so far. ...It has to sound just right, yanno? *Muke! _____________________________________________ NetZero - Defenders of the Free World Click here for FREE Internet Access and Email