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Re: USAGE: Diversity and uniformity AND No rants! (USAGE: di"f"thong) -- responses to Andreas and Ray.

From:Andreas Johansson <andjo@...>
Date:Wednesday, June 7, 2006, 21:24
WARNING: Heavy snippage ahead!

Quoting Benct Philip Jonsson <bpj@...>:

> Andreas Johansson skrev: > > > When you said "new letters" I, rather understandably I would think, assumed > you > > were talking about actual new letters, not old one with diacritics. > Throwing in > > a few â's and ô's would be unlikely to hamper me much. > > Well, after all we dó regard _å ä ö_ as separate letters > in Swedish, and in Spanish they even regard some digraphs > as separate letters.
No matter what the lexicographers and alphabetizers say, I'm afraid I'll always think of |å ä ö| as variants of |a| and |o|. I'm *particularly* likely to think that way when discussing in a language the usual orthography of which don't recognize them. But this is getting off-topic.
> >>I think you missed my point again: it's just a matter of what > >>one is used to. English speakers may be bothered by British- > >>American spelling differences *initially* -- and the same is > >>true of 'new' versus 'old' German spelling(*), and the differences > >>between the mainland Scandinavian languages, or even between > >>Spanish and Italian -- but after a while you do get used to > >>a variation that is not only limited but even principled. > > > > > > None of these examples seems really pertinent - American English, British > > English, old-style German, new-style German, Bokmål, Nynorsk, etc, are all > > standardized orthographies in themselves. If everyone would spell as they > see > > fit, we'd have hundreds of variants of Swedish alone, and you'll risk > having to > > get used to a new one every time you picked up a book. Certainly, as you > note > > below, you'd eventually learn to become better at learning new variants, > but > > it's still an extra burden. > > Well, I may have too great a confidence that people would strive > to write phonemically!
I very much suspect you do.
> It is perhaps also pertinent that I do > subvocalize while reading. I'm aware that I'm unusual in this, > and that it may even be dysfunctional.
The wiki article ( claims that there's no evidence it has any negative impact, and even hints competent readers do more of it. Then again, it comes with a warning for possible lacking neutrality. Whatever the case, I don't.
> > (Also, if how many people spell in informal online settings is any guide, > the > > variation would commonly be less than principled. This fear is reinforced > by > > the fact that, as you probably know, in older Swedish texts you can find > > several different spellings of the same word within the same paragraph.) > > I assume you are referring to informal spelling of *English*? > The fact that English spelling so much has lost synch with > the phonemic spelling principle that its writers have no feeling > for what written representations of its phonemes would be normal or > functional is hardly an argument against more phonemic spelling!
I was thinking of both English and Swedish, actually. Certainly, informal English spelling tends to be more chaotic than informal Swedish, but both exhibit plenty unprincipled variation even when allowing for obvious typos and the like. Example: My sister rather consistently spells _jag_ [jA:] and _idag_ [I'dA:] (thos being her normal pronunciations of the words) in informal texts as _ja_ and _idag_. If there's any principle to this, I'm pretty sure it isn't phone*ic. Tangential: For some reason, I've taken to spelling these silent or optional g's as gamma in my personal notes.
> Granted. What I advocate is not *random* variation, but > to allow a greater variation reflecting variation in > pronunciation.
I'm pessimistic about the feasibility of achieving this except by simply creating new prescriptive norms for various dialects. Andreas