Re: USAGE: No rants! (USAGE: di"f"thong)
|From:||Herman Miller <hmiller@...>|
|Date:||Monday, May 29, 2006, 18:55|
Henrik Theiling wrote:
> Here's a poll:
> 1) Do you think English spelling should be reformed?
> [x] No, it should not be reformed
> [ ] Yes, it should be reformed, but only slightly
> [x] Yes, and we need a whole now spelling
> [ ] I don't care
I read standard English very quickly, and anything out of the ordinary
slows me down. On the other hand, English spelling is a real mess. Even
after you've learned all the words in the everyday vocabulary, you've
got to deal with place names and personal names, and many of those are
> 2a) Do you think English spelling is phonemic?
> [x] No
> 2b) Do you think English spelling is phonetic?
> [x] No
> 3a) Do you think English spelling should be phonemic?
> [x] Yes
Up to a point. Korean spelling is a good example of a system that isn't
exactly phonemic but works well for the language. Something like that
might work for some variety of English. But distinguishing between
homonyms like "read" vs. "reed" (or past tense "read" vs. "red") is also
desirable, even though the distinction isn't phonemic (as far as I know
in dialects that I'm familiar with).
> 3b) Do you think English spelling should be phonetic?
> [x] No
On the one hand, it would be nice to be able to show that the /k/ in
"Wisconsin" is unaspirated (which might not be apparent from the
spelling). But phonetic spelling really isn't a good choice for a
writing system for any language, especially one with as many variations
> 4) Which spelling would you prefer for current 'laugh'?
> [x] laf
Or läf, or læf, but preferably something not using the Latin alphabet.
> 5) Who is the most important group of people you think of when
> proposing/rejecting a spelling reform?
Martian colonists. :-)
> 6) How should one cope with different dialects?
I think a variation in spelling according to dialect would be
reasonable; we already have variations like tire vs. tyre, color vs.
colour, aluminum vs. aluminium etc. Läf vs. lâf (or whatever) would be
no different. On the other hand, it wóuld be nice to preserve
distinctions that exist in some dialects but not others, like "which"
vs. "witch", "talk" vs. "torque", "cot" vs. "caught", "Mary" vs. "marry"
vs. "merry", etc. So the spelling wouldn't be perfectly phonemic for anyone.
> 7) Have you thought about or (tried to) invent(ed) a spelling reform
> [x] Yes
> [ ] No
I've considered a couple of different methods, including the Latin
alphabet with lots of diacritics, a new alphabet, or marks like furigana
on top of the existing letters. I think a whole new alphabet may be the
best option; the Shaw alphabet is a good attempt, but the letters look
too much alike. Something more like the Deseret alphabet would be better.
> 8) Which other lang do think needs a spelling reform?
> [ ] Chinese
> [ ] Danish
> [ ] Faeroese
> [ ] French
> [ ] German
> [ ] Japanese
I like the idea of using Cyrillic letters to write Irish. I don't know
anything about Faeroese spelling. Danish, French, and German seem more
or less reasonable once you learn the rules. French has lots of silent
letters, but at least they're more or less consistent about it, unlike
English. There are minor issues, but nothing as serious as the problems
with English spelling. Chinese and Japanese already have reasonably good
romanizations, but they have a lot of homonyms, so it makes sense for
them to continue using Chinese characters. It makes it a lot harder than
it needs to be for learners, though.